Six thoughts on organizational budgeting

Part of my responsibility is helping team members navigate the challenging process of budgeting for their ministry activities. Whether it’s one activity, or a season, or a calendar year, there are a number of things that I’ve found that help lead to successful budgeting.

  1. Start with a vision. This is as simple as drawing a picture in your mind of what the world would be like if your activity, season, or year went the way that you wish that it would.
  2. Write a plan to achieve that vision. Every culinary masterpiece requires a recipe, even if it was never written down. But if it was never written down, it will be hard to repeat. So write the plan down. (This will also be helpful as you bring other people in to work with you).
  3. Research. Possibly not in your organization, but somewhere, the activity or season you’re trying to carry out has likely been done before. Find out where and consider how they did it. Are there any lessons you can use to shape your plan to increase your odds for success? Is there any thing financially specific that they did or didn’t do that you can learn from?
  4. Attach dollar signs to your plan. If you’re serving 100 families, how many supplies will it take? How much will it cost to buy that many? Is requesting donations a possibility? Identify opportunities to save money. Consider these factors and turn your plan into a financial plan that evidences your thought and research.
  5. Think through contingencies. How will you modify your plan if resources are limited? if participation is low? if other challenges come up?
  6. Next, present your financial plan, including the components outlined above, to those to whom it’s appropriate. (Supervisor, finance committee, congregation, etc.) Modify based on their requests and then prepare to execute and evaluate* your plan.
*Evaluation while executing AND after executing your plan will contribute to your research phase when preparing for future activities and seasons.

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