3 Tips for Keeping Your Church Budget
We’ve been talking a lot about giving here at Clover in the last few months because we know that giving is essential to the life and health of your church. But when all the funds have been pledged and the money starts coming in, the question remains: what do you do with the money that’s been given?
The answer to that question lies in your church budget.
Part of being a good steward of the funds given to your church is developing a healthy, realistic budget.
Trust us, we know budgeting is probably your least favorite subject on the planet. One of the hardest things about church leadership is most definitely developing and staying on a budget. Okay, let’s be honest… staying on a budget is probably one of the hardest things about any part of life!
When you have a limited amount of money and an unlimited list of things you’d like to spend it on, sticking to a budget can be incredibly difficult. But if we want to be good stewards of the gifts given to our church, a budget is essential.
So instead of waiting for the unexpected expense, budget cut, or general overspending, why not try and set yourself up for success in advance? That’s what a budget does!
To help you stay on track, we’ve come up with three easy things you do to maintain your ministry’s budget.
1. Ask for Administrative Help.
Designating one person to watch all your dollars will save you the stress while still ensuring your ministry stays on budget. Recruit someone who loves all things Excel, details, numbers, and logistics to help you follow your spending. While some churches may have a treasurer on staff or on board to do this, others may need to recruit an experienced, trusted volunteer to help. Whoever it is, this will be the person who tracks all your actual dollars spent and manages all your upcoming deadlines—you know, all the fun parts of budgeting! If you have questions about your funds, spending, or financial status, this is the person to help you find the answers!
2. Check In.
Keep tabs on where you are in your budget throughout the year by checking in with your finance or accounting team -- or the volunteer you’ve asked to help. Request periodic financials or track your budget in Excel or QuickBooks. You could also use a particular church finacial software -- or starting looking around for one.
If you don’t have a team helping keep your records, ease yourself in by starting with quarterly reports. Check in on your budget at the end of each quarter to take a look at what your income and expenses look like compared to your annual budget. Are you on track? How does it compare to last year? What are your projections? What adjustments might you need to make to stay within your budget? Checking in on your budget throughout the year may sound tedious, but it will help you be accountable to staying on track in the long run.
3. Deadlines, Deadlines, Deadlines!
Don’t procrastinate! Late fees are real, my friends! Help yourself avoid unnecessary payments or overspending by creating deadlines for each event and project. Think through the details of each major thing on your calendar. When do you need to book your venue? How long does it take to design and print a poster? When is final payment due? Can you pay down a montgage faster? Figure out all your major deadlines ahead of time and try to build in another week or two to create a buffer for your budget. If you go ahead and build in room for delay, you’re less likely to end up without the money when you really need it!
The most important part of deadlines? Sticking to them! Deadlines are designed to help you stay ahead so take them seriously and try not to let one pass without being met. By incorporating just a couple of these things, you’ll avoid the headache of overspending or coming up short when it comes to your budget.