Stock Photos Ministry budgets come in all sorts and sizes. In fact, many churches approach the budget concept from different angles. I’ve been at a church where there wasn’t a budget… just a big pot that all the money was in. If I needed money for something, I just asked the Senior Pastor if there was any money for it. I’ve been at churches where we had budgets, but I never saw it and just spent money within reason. I’ve also been at the church where the budget was an inflexible law where every pen I took from the supply cabinet and every copy from the copier was charged to my meager account. Some churches plan out a budget at the beginning of the year where others allocate percentages of the giving each weekend to the individual ministries. There are many flavors. Hopefully in this little series I’m putting together there will be some good information that is useful to your situation.

Starting somewhere

Where do you even begin? I’ve been at two churches where I was asked to put together a budget where there had not previously been a budget. I remember asking myself this very question. Here are some basic questions to help anyone get started.

1. How many volunteers do you have?

2. How many kids do you have?

From these two numbers you can determine several of your budget numbers. For instance, I like to spend between $15 and $25 on each volunteer throughout the year for appreciation. Knowing how many volunteers you have helps determine an amount for your “volunteer appreciation” account. I pay $12 a person for background checks and run the checks every two years. So I’ll try to budget 2/3 of my current volunteer team times $12 to know how much I need to budget for background checks. Knowing how many kids attend on a regular basis allows me to know how much to budget for craft materials and other supplies.

Second of all, I let the calendar direct my budget allocations. I like to keep my calendar 18 months in advance. Once I know what I’m going to do, I can figure out how much it’s going to cost to do it.

Last of all, I always look at what I did last year. Even if there wasn’t a budget, certainly there is a spending report. How much was spent on certain things? Based on the previous year, do you need more money to be successful or did you have enough?

There are several other factors to consider as well, but hopefully this was just a start. Tomorrow I’ll go more detailed and actually include a few sample budgets and other forms that go with the budget.