Standard for Finances

The Standard: Financial resources must be sufficient to provide the programs that support the mission. The business practices of the science fair are ethical, promote confidence in the science fair’s ability to manage fiscal and material resources in a responsible manner, and follow prescribed budgeting and accounting principles. Resources raised by the science fair are dedicated to the science fair’s operational expenses, including those associated with attendance at ISEF as well as special initiatives that support the mission.

Indicators for all science fairs:

Financial Management

3.1    The governance and leadership exercise prudent control over all financial operations.

3.2    Levels of income and expenditures are in appropriate balance. Current assets are sufficient to meet current liabilities.

3.3    The science fair develops short‐ and long‐range financial plans to ensure resources are available to deliver its programs and services.

3.4    The science fair makes prudent use of resources available through development activities, grants, foundations, and other partnerships.

3.5    The science fair has expense and travel policies that address the levels of support provided for the expenses of volunteers, staff, chaperones and others traveling or expending monies on behalf of the fair.  These policies should also articulate how the expenses of the finalists are covered and any limits or policies that have been established.

Fees/Cost of Participation

3.6    Any fees associated with participation at the science fair are established by governance and leadership with policy that is prudent and inclusive by taking into account the ability of the student population or schools to afford.  Ideally, the policy will address how those without financial capacity are able to participate while protecting their privacy.

3.7    Such fee policy is publicized in advance and schools and/or individuals participating in science fair activities are informed of all financial obligations related to those activities prior to such participation.

3.8    The science fair has written, reasonable, and equitable collection and refund policies. (This can include policies that limit or restrict refunds, but should be clearly articulated and publicized.)

Fundraising Activities 

3.9   The science fair has written policies in place to govern the acceptance and disposition of charitable gifts that are received in the course of its regular fundraising activities. These policies should include procedures to determine any limits on individuals or entities from which the organization will accept a gift, the purposes for which donations will be accepted, the type of property which will be accepted, and whether to accept an unusual or unanticipated gift in light of the organization’s mission and organizational capacity.

3.10     Science fair solicitation and promotional materials will be accurate and truthful and will correctly identify the organization receiving the funds, its mission, and the intended use of the solicited funds.

3.11     All statements made by the science fair in its fundraising appeals about the use of a contribution will be honored.

Special Indicators

Science Fairs operating as an independent non-profit organization

3.12 The science fair implements written financial policies and procedures that are in accordance with accepted business practices.  Such written financial policies should be adequate for the size and complexity of their organization governing: (a) investment of the assets (b) internal control procedures, (c) purchasing practices, and (d) unrestricted current net assets.  The non-profit organization should periodically review its financial policies.

3.13 Those entrusted with overseeing and conducting the financial and business operations of the agency possess appropriate qualifications.

3. 14 The governance annually approves the organization’s budget and periodically assesses the organization’s financial performance in relation to the budget. As part of the annual budget process, the governance should review the percentages of the organization’s resources spent on program, administration, and fundraising.

3.15 Periodic audits or financial reviews are conducted by qualified external agencies and the science fair responds appropriately.

3.16 The science fair carries adequate insurance coverage as assessed by the governance in light of the nature and extent of the organization’s activities and its financial capacity. A decision to forego general liability insurance coverage or Directors and Officers liability insurance coverage shall only be made by the board of directors and shall be reflected in the minutes for the meeting at which the decision was made.

Science Fairs operating under the regulation of a government or university

3.17  Science fair remains in good standing within the structure and regulations of the overseeing financial management.

3.18  In cases in which government or university policy is in direct conflict with SSP science fair financial standards, the science fair will cite the regulation and attempt to meet the spirit of the SSP standard as possible.

Other Standards


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Governance & Leadership

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Programs and Services

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