Ultimately, you are responsible to stay on budget. It’s a matter of integrity. I’ve managed budgets ranging from a few thousand dollars to more than a hundred thousand dollars. Regardless of size, it’s still our duty to keep our spending below the budget. Here are a few things to consider though (this may depend on how your church budgets).
- Just because you have a budget of X doesn’t mean you have X to spend. Many churches set a budget at the beginning of the year based on the previous year and growth trends. The budget you have been given is an estimate, not a guarantee. So, even though you have have X allocated to spend this month, church families may not have given enough to cover your accounts.
- Just because you have a budget of X doesn’t mean you have X to spend. Giving may be on budget but the youth pastor may have gone way over budget last month (Yeah, I did just pick on the youth pastor). Actually it could be many factors. An air conditioning unit could have blown up and had to be fixed… and that wasn’t in the budget. So, your money may have been spent by someone else. This is where things aren’t really fair, but it’s a part of life. Let’s say the YP did overspend. Sure, he’ll have to answer to his over spending, but the fact hasn’t changed that the money in your budget is not there. Remember, it is the church’s money, not ours and if there isn’t money to spend, we have no right to spend.
- Just because you have an annual budget of X doesn’t mean you can spend Y in February. You need to see how your budgeted has been allocated. Is X divided evenly by 12 and allocated as that much every month. If this is the case, and you know you have some big expenses during the summer, you may need to under spend in the months leading up to summer so that you have the room to over spend in the summer. I’ve found that I’ve usually spent 80-90% of my budget by September, so it helps for me to front load a lot of my expenses thorough out the year. That way I’m don’t have to worry about over spending at certain times of the year.
These are all primarily related to cash flow. If a certain money is coming in, then you only have that much to go out. Too many times we take the finance department or the staff person keeping the books for granted. We all get very focused on our ministries and doing what we need to do to make them happen, and the accountant is in his tiny basement office sweating like a pig trying to figure out how to make it all work. Cash flow is one of the biggest killers of businesses, the same is true for churches. So, due what you’re called to do and spend what you’ve been given to spend, but do keep your eye on these other factors… its about being a part of a team.
I certainly don’t want this to all come across negative. I just think its an important thing to consider. It’s your reputation on the line. It doesn’t matter how great a CP you are, but if the finance team is cussing you in the basement… you have something to work on (apparently the finance team has something to work on too… and why are they always in the basement?).
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