Below are 10 tips that we use in preparing a yearly budget:
#1 – Be realistic – I know you’re sure that outreach event is going to take your church from 200 to 2,000 in just one week, but why not look at your past and say, “We’ve grown by 25% each year, I think we can expect the same this upcoming year.”
#2 – Consider the church’s goals – What are you trying to accomplish this year? Are you seeking to do more with missions? Youth? Children? Marketing? All of these things needs to factor into your bottom line.
#3 – Think through your events and calendar – What events are you planning on having? Most events take some kind of budgetary consideration to happen. Also, this will help you not plan too much at the same time and allow you to manage your cash flow better. Too much going out all at once is never good!
#4 – Give your highest impact ministries the greatest priority – Ministry areas that are not vital to the mission of your church can become a money pit. For us, children’s ministry, worship, and teaching have always gotten our best time. attention, and resources.
#5 – Kill what isn’t working – Because we don’t like admitting defeat, we tend to want to sink money into ministry areas that aren’t working. Most of the time, ineffective ministries need a funeral.
#6 – Will this take more staff? – Factor people into the equation. The greatest asset of any church is the staff. You can be effective without technology (believe it or not). But without great people, it isn’t going to happen.
#7 – How is your current staff doing? – Did someone on your staff have a baby? Is there a need that you don’t know about? Talk to them and find where they are before you invest in someone else.
#8 – Look at what you spent your budget on last year – what are the areas you are going to cut? What areas do you want to invest in more. I bet you will be surprised on where all of it went. This happens personally and in church world.
#9 – Look out for the black hole called “Miscellaneous.” We have a decent sized budget that God has entrusted to us. But we never have more than $100 under miscellaneous expense. Anything that’s in there more than once is no longer miscellaneous. Look through these items and find where they fall under and have the staff plan for that expense next year.
#10 – Take a step of faith – we have always looked for God to do more this year than last year. So we plan our budget based on data, but then we always increase it a little more in faith. This isn’t a flippant thing. It’s something we pray about, but it has always stretched us as a staff.
If you want more ideas on how to run a tight ship without turning into the Titanic, you can get a resource I created called “The Cash Crunch” for free here: