AMS expands its club fund by $8,000, providing clubs with some economic relief

The AMS has approved a funding increase for the Clubs Benefit Fund to help mitigate financial pressures exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Clubs will now be able to receive $10,000 once per fiscal year — an increase from $2,000 previously — to cover the cost of one-time club events and projects. This new maximum will provide clubs the opportunity to plan larger events that they may have been unable to afford with the previous grant limit.

This is the most recent change to the Club Benefit Fund. In October of last year, the AMS began to automatically provide a one-time payment of $500 to new clubs as startup money.

“We are hoping that the grant increase will allow clubs to continue taking on initiatives despite their financial losses,” VP Finance Lucia Liang wrote in a statement to The Ubyssey.

Liang said that the AMS recognizes that “club events and projects often cost much more than $2,000 which was the previous grant limit.”

“Our goal as a team is to ensure that financial limitations do not deter creativity.”

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic the costs of many UBC clubs have remained consistent despite a transition to remote-learning and extracurricular activities. For the UBC Sailing Club, even though membership has reduced, costs have continued to increase.

“Membership dropped, but we still had to pay everything. Our costs didn’t really change … so our finances were kind of tough this year,” said Emilie Desrochers, the president of the UBC Sailing Club.

The funding covers one-time events but is not meant for recurring costs or basic operating fees. This means that despite reduced membership, the UBC Sailing Club has been responsible for paying for the cost of the storage and upkeep of boats.

“We couldn’t defer our storage … our fees actually did go up at Jericho, which was kind of unfortunate.”

Desrochers is concerned that larger clubs with more expensive upkeep who might not be eligible for the Clubs Benefit Fund will continue to struggle financially.

“I’m interested to see how they will distribute this money. Our club lost more than $10,000 last year. We’re a little bit worried that as a big club we won’t be proportionately helped out,” Desrochers said.

Liang anticipates that funding will be available to all clubs who are eligible to receive it, and that funding won’t be maxed out. In previous years, clubs drew anywhere from $100 to the full $2,000 in funding, which Liang anticipates will continue even with the $8,000 grant increase.

“In the odd case that funds do become strained, we will explore funding projects partially and communicate alternative financial resources to all applicants.”

With the announcement that the fall 2021/22 is slated to be in-person, Desrochers is optimistic that membership to the UBC Sailing Club will continue to increase, which will provide some economic relief.

“We were doing much better than last year … we’re still down about 30% - 40% in membership numbers. So things are looking a lot better than last year, but still not where we’d like them to be yet.”