It’s Budget Season
For churches with fiscal year January-December, October is the time to put together your budget for the following year. Budgeting is important as it defines how much money is available to support planned ministries. Budgets act like a map for church leaders and set expectations for spending. A worship leader or head of Sunday school should know what amount of money they have available for planning purposes. Finalizing the budget now will allow time to effectively plan next year’s programs.
Here are a few actions steps that may be helpful as you put together next year’s budget:
Look back over the previous 2-3 years of data to spot trends in income and expenditure. Use this information to set reasonable goals for your budget. Be realistic.
Consider Expense Cuts
Although this can be a difficult step it may be necessary to make expense cuts in your budget. Are there ministries that are not effective or non-essential? It is usually better to make one big expense reduction for the year. Making too many expense cuts can be destabilizing.
Appoint a Treasurer
Most churches should have a Treasurer that is responsible for keeping watch over the finances. If you do not have a Treasurer, someone should be appointed to take on this role. The individual doesn’t need to have a finance background, but it would be best if they had some knowledge of budgeting.
Account for Seasonal Trends
For most churches, there are fluctuations in attendance during certain times of the year. Remember to put more money aside during these months to offset lower giving months.
Budget for Reserves
It is important to have money set aside for maintenance and repairs. Even if there are no immediate needs it is best to plan in advance for large ticket items such as a new roof or parking lot. Having a reserve fund may also minimize panic when unplanned maintenance is required.
Prepare Monthly Reports
Monitoring the budget on a monthly basis can help identify issues before it is too late. Monthly reports should be reviewed by the Treasurer and shared with the Board.
For additional information about budgeting and reporting consult the C&MA Finance Manual’s chapter five. The manual is available on rmdcma.com/members.
I would also be happy to help and am available to address any questions about budgeting.