Financing & Budgeting for Your ACS Student Community

Financing and budgeting are among the most critical components of keeping your student community healthy. Actively maintaining and monitoring a budget allows you to balance expenses associated with your community activites against the money you have available to ensure that you don't overspend.

This page connects you to tools and resources for setting up a budgeting system for your community and explores potential options to help finance your events and activities.  

Find Grants

A variety of grants and scholarships are available to help fund your existing (or future) student chapter or GSO.

For starting a community:
  • Starter Grant: Apply for this grant before you apply for your ACS charter and get $300 to start (or reactivate after 5 years of being inactive) your student chapter or GSO.
For active student chapters and GSOs:
  • Engagement Grant: This grant can be used for a wide variety of events, such as community outreach, member retreats, and professional development. 
  • DEIR Grant: This grant is specifically for efforts to broaden diversity, equity, inclusion, and respect within your chapter or GSO
  • Professional Meeting Grant: This grant will help you fund members' participation in virtual or in-person conferences.

Establish a Budget

Community leaders should review the group’s goals and plans annually and estimate associated costs. Potential costs include:

  • Hosting events: Supplies, transportation, venue rental, speaker honoraria, promotions
  • Attending/presenting at conferences: Registration fees, transportation, housing, poster printing, meals
  • Chapter/GSO overhead: Subscriptions, ACS premium package memberships (if applicable), promotions, and a small amount of extra money to cover unexpected expenses

You can use the previous year's expenses as a starting point, but expect growth in your community's size and inflation to drive costs up some each year.

Identify how much funding you will need to bring in to cover your projected costs. Revise your plans as necessary to ensure that your revenues cover your costs.

Leaders should also revisit the budget regularly to ensure that funds are being spent appropriately and that you have sufficient funds.

Track Revenues and Expenses

Your treasurer and/or other financial officer(s) should track all revenues and expenses as they're incurred so that nothing is overlooked. Most groups create a ledger on a Google Sheet or similar shared document. You could also use budgeting software or a ledger, if preferred.

Whatever you use to track expenses, only your treasurer should have permissions to make changes to keep your budget information secure. However, all officers should be able to view the data, for transparency and accountability.

Additional tips:

  • Detail your expenses. Note the amount, the date, and description, no matter how small the expense. Details improve transparency and document your financial responsibility.
  • Save all receipts in a central location. These verify expenses and are often required for reimbursements.
  • Complete any forms required by your institution promptly.
  • Use the student chapter financial report template [XLS] to report your expenses to ACS in your annual report. (Student chapters only.)

Where to Find Funds

Having multiple funding sources helps ensure you have enough money to reach your goals. It's also a good strategy to prevent pulling too much from any one source, and provides backup in case one source provides less than expected. 

Some common sources of revenue for ACS Student Chapters and GSOs are:

  • Institutional funding: Some colleges and universities provide funds for student clubs. Ensure your chapter or GSO is an official club within your institution to be eligible for these funds.
  • Grants: Active chapters and GSOs are eligible for specific ACS grants. You can also look for other grants both inside and outside of ACS.
    - Tips from inChemistry Magazine for better grant applications
  • Dues: Chapters and GSOs can collect dues from their participants. Remember to keep the fee low to encourage participation.
  • Fundraisers: Raising money through goggle sales or pie-a-professor opportunities can have the additional benefit of bringing chapter participants together for a fun activity. When fundraising, remember to account for the cost of the fundraiser. (E.g., If you spend $200 purchasing goggles and sell 50 of them for $10 each, you’ll have raised $300, not $500.)

Store Your Funds

Keeping all of your funds in a central location ensures they remain available even after your treasurer graduates. Set up a bank account specifically for your student chapter or GSO that can be accessed by your faculty advisor and appropriate officer(s).

  • Opening a US Bank Account 
    US student chapters and GSOs opening a bank account for the first time should contact ACS for:
    - An IRS form SS-4
    - An Employer Identification Number application
    - Instructions for completing the forms prior to contacting the bank
  • Opening a non-US bank account
    International student chapters should work with their faculty advisor to open a chapter bank account in accordance with local regulations.

Need more tips? Check out the Budgeting in 5 Steps infographic from inChemistry Magazine to learn how to manage your budget responsibly.

Fundraising Ideas

Need to raise money? Here are some of the great ideas student chapters and GSOs have tried:

Chemistry-themed sales

  • Liquid nitrogen ice cream (Be sure to stir it well!)
  • Periodic table of treats (Decorate cupcakes or cookies with atomic symbols and arrange in the shape of the periodic table.)
  • Holiday themed test tubes filled with candy 
  • Goggles, lab coats/aprons, lab notebooks, or ACS Exam study guides
  • Hats or t-shirts designed by your members
  • Exam care packages with chemistry cookies or study breaks with snacks and chemistry games
  • ACS swag

Other ideas

  • Raffles: Contact local businesses for donations or raffle off lunch with a popular professor
  • Contests: Design a t-shirt, write a poem
  • Sales: Coffee, doughnuts, gift cards, car washes, or other items
  • Restaurant nights: Work with a local restaurant to receive a portion of the income for an evening
  • Recycling drives: Check with local organizations for paid options to recycle aluminum, glass, paper, ink cartridges, phones, etc.
  • Coin drives: Students can put coins into large jugs to vote for a professor to take a safety shower or get a pie in the face at the end of the semester

Fundraising Guidelines

Like any activity, fundraisers benefit from advance planning. Here are a few tips:

  • Start planning your fundraiser 1-3 months in advance, so that you have time to arrange and promote the activity.
  • Promote heavily through social media, flyers, classroom visits, etc. 
  • Use a goal chart to share the fundraiser's progress with the group.
  • Schedule your fundraiser for a time when students (and volunteers) won’t be distracted by other community events.
  • Follow the rules of your institution for fundraising and sales.

Student Community Toolkit

Successfully start and manage your student chapter or GSO with these resources. If you have any questions, email ACS Student Chapters at, ACS International Student Chapters at, or GSO at

Tips for Faculty Advisors

Faculty advisor responsibilities, tips for building a successful group, and other essential information

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