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Sunday, September 19, 2021

Picnic Day fares well with budget after losing ASUCD subsidy

JERO REAL / AGGIE

Picnic Day generates enough revenue to cover expenses; ASUCD Controller, Picnic Day staff differ in sponsorship totals

During the drafting of last year’s budget, it was decided that Picnic Day, an ASUCD unit, would no longer receive a subsidy and would instead have to generate revenue for the association.

Now, a year later, Picnic Day is nearly hitting the mark toward generating the allocated revenue. According to ASUCD Controller Jin Zhang, ASUCD budgeted for Picnic Day to garner $30,000 in business sponsorships. Picnic Day advocated for $17,500, but the unit actually raised $33,500.

However, the numbers given by Picnic Day chair Chelsea Hernandez and Picnic Day business manager Nick Lee contradict those from Zhang.

“In terms of sponsorship, we got $26,550, so it’s obviously not the 30 [thousand dollars] we were expected to have and it’s just because there were just a lot of changes this year,” Hernandez said. “One of our typical sponsors, one that we’ve had for the past few years, Amazon, decided not to be a sponsor this year.”

Both Hernandez and Lee spoke about the difficulties of finding sponsors for Picnic Day.

“Ever since the change of being a subsidy-receiving unit to a revenue-generating unit, the search for sponsorships hasn’t changed too significantly,” Lee said via email. “Because my team and I had a higher goal for how much money we had to raise, we reached out to more than 200 companies, ranging from smaller and local companies and larger corporations. Even though we reached out to over 200 companies, only maybe 25% of them responded and maybe about 5 companies responded with a yes, which is a mere 2.5% rate of acceptance of sponsoring Picnic Day this year.”

Above meeting the revenue goal from ASUCD, Hernandez focused on making sure that, at the very least, all programming for Picnic Day was paid for.

“Thankfully we were fortunate enough to at least be able to afford Picnic Day,” Hernandez said. “For me, it was just seeing the stress being put on the business director,  especially as we got closer to it, and then just myself being really concerned. There was a point where we weren’t sure we would be able to afford everything and we were a little behind. It was a little frightening and there was a lot of pressure. […] Our focus was just to pay for Picnic Day, that is our main focus to put on this day.”

Zhang explained that Picnic Day is doing quite well for itself with its current budget.

“Picnic Day is doing really, really well in terms of the revenue they were expected, what was proposed,” Zhang said. “Some numbers haven’t come in yet and they aren’t going to be able to give you a direct number either unless there is some new information […] Honestly, we budgeted $47,000 in terms of what they could make, and currently they are at 43 [thousand dollars] without food sales. Picnic Day is doing particularly well for itself.”

Hernandez views Zhang as very understanding of the reality of running a unit and working within a budget.

“The controller this year seems very understanding of the issue,” Hernandez said. “Last year during budget hearings it seemed like we were expected to support other units, which I of course understand, I mean I am involved in a former unit, but it’s just a lot of pressure to put on that one person to support everyone else. It’s not easy and it’s especially hard tabling next to ASUCD and hearing, ‘Oh, we have this $13 million budget,’ and then working in a unit where it’s like you’re having to pay back to ASUCD.”

When it comes to next year’s budget, Lee has a few recommendations.

“Recommendations I would make toward the Picnic Day budget for next year is to think through where we’ll want to spend money, and reallocate funds in the correct subaccounts to accurately reflect what the Picnic Day Board intends to spend next year,” Lee said via email.

Zhang is also receptive to what the unit director thinks they can achieve within reason.

“We are hoping that they can make as much as they did last year, minimum, but that’s what we’re hoping for,” Zhang said. “I think it is very important, however, to take into consideration what the unit director wants and what they project, what they think they can do.”

Written by: Kenton Goldsby — campus@theaggie.org

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