While I can’t pretend to be an expert in this area, I have done a couple of them now and thought I would share what I do know. Just this week I did my first draft for the ’08-’09 fiscal year.
There are a few major things you have to look at when you are planning a budget. It won’t give you final answers, but these are questions that will at least begin to formulate a direction you are headed.
- Have you prayed about this?
I know it is cliché. I wish I could say I remembered this one up front every time but I am not that cool. The reality is though that you are spending God’s money to do God’s work so you NEED to stop and pray for the mind of Christ to work in your thoughts and heart.
- What is your church/ministry vision
Everything you do including the way you spend money should be easily traced to how you are trying to accomplish that vision.
EXAMPLE: Ours is reaching and growing, so if I can’t quickly support that I am probably headed in the wrong direction
- What are your ministry/church’s values?
If you value certain things (for most it is some form of the five purposes and excellence, technology, etc.)—if you are saying you value it, put your money where your mouth is (that was too cheesy to use) and prove it.
EXAMPLE: Ours are Outreach, Worship, Connecting and Service. Those along with Staffing to create them are my focus.
- What was your budget last year?
Plain and simple, this tells a lot. Yes a budget can go up based on trends and potential, but if your budget was $2,500 last year it will most likely not be $20,000 next year.
EXAMPLE: Last year my budget was…come on, did you really think I would write that?
- Where is your ministry going?
Where is your ministry going philosophically? Numerically? Short term? Long term? Are you adding programs?
EXAMPLE: Last year I was making a major shift in the way we did programming and hopefully creating awareness for outreach that needed to take place, and our group was on the verge of a numbers boom.
- Where is your church going?
Are you in a time of growth, decline, budget cuts or alternate focus?
EXAMPLE: I have known staff who came to churches nine months in who told them to plan on 10 percent of their budget being cut. I have also known churches who have started a second campus or planted a church and shifted funds and focus mid year.
- What is the financial culture of your church?
How have others past and present made budgets and presented them?
EXAMPLE: I stole the spreadsheet format others had used in the past so that I would not be foreign in my presentation.
- What are your must haves?
While we all know that a new Wii would impact eternity because of the lives it would change, if you are honest with yourself your money may be better spent on leader appreciation.
EXAMPLE: While I have always had the dream of technology and part-time staff, those things didn’t happen in year one and may never happen.
- What is your relationship with the person/group making the final decision?
Are you the new guy? Are you the seasoned veteran? Are you always asking forgiveness? re you the guy who can do no wrong?
EXAMPLE: Perception is reality, so if you are the new guy, know that you have to earn trust and credibility. If you have let this group down before, you may have to regain their trust. No matter which guy you are, you cannot go wrong with organization and clarity in your thought and presentation.
I hope this helped somebody. If you have questions or comments, comment away and let the conversation begin.