The Ultimate Guide to Nonprofit Budgeting + Free Template

Boards also use the operating budget to show projections of various amounts of revenue and their sources. Just as it sounds, an operating budget shows how much you intend to spend on operations nonprofit budgeting for dummies for the next year. Most importantly, nonprofit budgets should be constructed around the organization’s programs and activities, which will help them stay focused on their goals.

  1. That means your nonprofit will be allocated funding for Google Ads indefinitely.
  2. You can download slides below and here’s a transcript of this recording.
  3. She is the author of all previous editions of Grant Writing For Dummies.

You’ll also need to determine how you’ll raise that funding and what sources of revenue will help you fund the project. Board management software is a valuable tool in assisting nonprofits in budget planning. The platform has a feature for granular permissions so that only the people involved in budget planning can access the budget planning details. The budget paints a clear picture of how much cash is coming in and how much is going out.

Generally, when nonprofit organizations consider their budget, they immediately think of their annual budget plan that they finalize between December of the previous year and January of the current one. While this is the master financial plan that the nonprofit will follow throughout the year, it’s not the only budget that nonprofits need to be aware of. Your operating budget, also known as a broad scope budget, gives you a financial picture of the activities your organization has planned for the coming year.

How to Create a Budget Template

Budgeting for nonprofit organizations takes a bit of time, but planning your budget is too important to make the mistake of rushing through it. Keep adding to these tips and best practices and you’ll have the process down in no time. There are several ways to manage budgeting for nonprofit organizations. There are lots of budgeting templates available online or you could create one of your own. Yes, profit in a charity is perfectly acceptable as long as those profits are used for the nonprofit’s charitable purposes and not for the benefit of the Board or key staff.

What is a Nonprofit Budget?

For example, if the organization is planning to launch a new program, then the budget may need to include funds for start-up costs such as marketing and program development. The average small business using Google Ads spends between $5,000 and $12,000 per month on Google paid search campaigns. That’s $60,000 to $150,000 of marketing expenses per year spent solely on ad clicks. Thankfully, Google created a grant to help nonprofits budget for marketing. In the for-profit world, it’s fairly standard to determine a marketing budget by allocating 10-20% of projected gross revenue to marketing and communications. For organizations in the nonprofit sector, try to allocate between 5-15% of your budget to marketing.

An inclusive budgeting process can certainly be challenging and messy and with a great deal of debate. However, this approach to budgeting presents a great opportunity to bring in and unite various perspectives. While there will inevitably be some assumptions in your budget, try to work with real numbers as much as possible.

We strive to provide nonprofit leaders with useful resources, tips, and tools that you can use at your organization. We’d love to hear your feedback about this content and anything else you would like to see more of from NFF. A regularly updated and realistic budget helps you know exactly how much money is coming in and out of your organization, allowing you to manage your resources more effectively. Excel or a similar spreadsheet-software system that allows you to organize, format and calculate data with formulas. Seems obvious, I know, but I have on more than one occasion received a budget typed up in a Word document.

For example, if you have it in your plan to buy new computers for your staff or to build a new website, create a separate budget for those projects. There are a few things to consider when budgeting for expenses in a nonprofit. The first is to make sure that all of the expenses are covered by the income of the organization. The second is to make sure that the expenses are in line with the goals of the organization. The third is to make sure that the expenses are affordable and realistic.

Involve your Board, your staff, and your volunteers in creating the budget and reviewing your revenue and expenses. This not only helps create a more accurate and comprehensive budget but also ensures buy-in across the board. Once the budget has been created, it is important to monitor actual expenses and income on a regular basis. This will allow you to make adjustments as needed to ensure that the organization remains on track to meet its financial goals. Finally, it is important to review the budget periodically to ensure that it remains accurate and relevant.

How to Create a Budget for a Nonprofit

In addition, each of these activities should have a defined separate budget. When you’ve developed a program budget for each of these activities, you’ll then use that information in your larger operational budget. We’ll cover everything from the basics to professional tips that will help you maximize your nonprofit budget. Finally, the board or budget committee should be ready to present the annual budget to any necessary committees and the board for final approval. Consider segregating staff expenses as it usually comprises anywhere from 60% to 90% of an organization’s budget.

The Budget-Building Book for Nonprofits: A Step-by-Step Guide for Managers and Boards

Fixed expenses are those that are constant from year to year, like your organization’s office rent. You can count on this to be the same price from year to year due to the contract you have with your management company. Meanwhile, variable expenses are those that change from year to year. For example, your fundraising expenses might vary depending on the campaigns you’re running.

While regular Google Ad accounts have to pay per ad click, Google Grant participants can display their advertisements for free. These ads enable your nonprofit to appear on Google when someone searches for topics related to your mission. Just to be clear, budgets are prepared by the staff of the organization. However, the board offers important thought partnership at the start of the process, and will be responsible for approving the final budget annually. In our introduction to this blog series, we talked about why budgets are important, and in this blog, we’ll delve into the who, what, where, and when of budgeting. Many experts recommend that you review your budget annually, quarterly, and monthly to make sure your organization is on track.

Benefits to Budgeting for Nonprofits

Mark the events in everyone’s calendars, so that it becomes easier to repeat the process each year. There are many resources around best practices including the Council of Nonprofits and AAFCPAs. There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the steps involved in creating a nonprofit budget will vary depending on the specific organization and its financial situation. You can use ideas from examples of nonprofit budgets to create the one that’s right for you. Google Ad Grants provide eligible nonprofits a $10,000 monthly stipend to spend on paid search ads, helping supplement their marketing budgets.

A trained accountant can help you make sure everything is in order during any of these budget reviews. Reach out to the accountants at Jitasa to ask about how their trained financial professionals can help your nonprofit review and craft the best budget to help you succeed. The best way to estimate what your nonprofit’s expenses will be is by examining what you’ve spent in the past and by collecting quotes for new expenses. Consider which of these recurring expenses are fixed and which ones are variable. A nonprofit accountant will be able to help walk your team through the decision of which forecasting method is best for your budget.

The “Fuzzy Math” section includes tips about better bookkeeping and financial transparency. Once approved by the appropriate committee, the budget will be presented to the full board for approval. Unless something drastic happens, in my opinion, that should be the only approved budget for the year. You should reforecast on a quarterly basis to get an idea of where you will end up for the year, but the board does not necessarily have to approve the reforecast.

Finally, time is an essential component if you’re devising a capital budget. While operational budgets cover the span of a year, your capital budget expands beyond that timeframe. These budgets cover growth initiatives that take several years to complete, such as capital campaigns or building plans. Then, in your operational budget for the year, you’ll include your $15,000 computer lab program expense.

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