As the new year gets underway, so does the budgeting process for many ministries. It can be a laborious endeavor, can’t it? How do you make sure it’s worth the effort? One key is to build a budget that aligns directly with your missional priorities. It may take a bit of extra work, but this is one time when every ounce of that effort will be well spent.
And while you have to be careful when importing business practices into ministry contexts, this is also an area where the experience of businesses can be helpful. Check out this insight from Andrew Cravenho in his Entrepreneur article “The 5 Essentials for Aligning Your Budget with Your Business Strategy”:
In order to enable your business to function smoothly and do better, it is not only important that your budget mirrors its strategic goals, but you also need to have specific guidelines with regard to the steps to achieving those goals.
Here’s a summary of the five essentials Cravenho proposes.
- Get as many insights as you can. Involve all your leaders in the vision casting and budgeting process. Make sure they all appreciate the interdependence of strategy development and financial forecasting.
- Have a long-term vision. Many ministry initiatives take more than 12 months to play out. The budget needs to reflect this longer view.
- Measure your performance indicators. “Communicating the metrics that define success to teams enables them to determine whether they are on track and empowers them to modify their plans accordingly.”
- Set realistic goals. This means you need to be specific in how you allocate ministry monies to achieve ministry goals.
- Tweak your strategy as, and when, required. Cravenho recommends quarterly reviews of organizational plans and progress toward them. “By doing so,” he says, “you will be able to detect your mistakes and know where you’re faltering before a small problem snowballs into a huge crisis.”
What does does it look like to align your budget with ministry priorities? Here’s one example from ECCU Marketing Account Manager Ryan Garcia, who’s part of The Cause Church in Brea, California:
Our church is focusing on the generations for 2018. So our end-of-year giving emphasis was to redo and upgrade our youth and children’s ministry facilities. This aligns directly with our church’s mission of family ministry being one of five important pillars of the church.
Entrepreneur published another helpful article by a well-known ministry financial expert. For more ideas about how to ensure that the money God brings your way ends up funding the work he’s called you to do, you might also want to check out “Dave Ramsey’s 5 Budgeting Tips for Small Business Owners.”