By: Christine Lent
Did you take this year’s financials and merely increase every category 10 or 20% and say this is your budget?
Do you know that when you begin to have goals and measure them, you greatly increase your chance of achieving the growth you want for your organization? A budget can become the roadmap for actionable steps that will achieve the success you want. A well prepared plan begins with zero-based budgeting. The first step is to look at current program goals and ensure they are aligned with your mission and your strategic plan. Have program managers justify costs & discuss their programs for the upcoming year before including it in the budget. Don’t just increase current year expenses and say you have a budget! Gather input from all members of the management team. Assumptions should be data driven and not emotion based. I had a client explain to me that they must include a certain program in their budget because they had always done an arts & crafts project in an after-school program & the kids expected it! While there may be a legitimate reason to include this in their budget, this reason is purely based on emotion. Get the data to support your case for inclusion. Build consensus & buy-in among your management team & Board member before finalizing your annual budget. After getting Board approval of the final budget, communicate the budget with all stakeholders. Be sure to look at variances to the budget throughout the year & use the data to change course, if needed. After getting Board approval of the final budget, communicate the budget with all stakeholders. Be sure to look at variances to the budget throughout the year & use the data to change course, if needed. Budgets are useful tools and shouldn’t be stored on the shelf after completion; they can make all the difference in a successful year.