Budgeting can be a real time consuming and can require a good bit of work.
A great budget will reflect your vision and the opportunities you plan to pursue in the coming church year. Your budget speaks directly to what you want to do. It answers the question, what do we beleve we are called to do next year in this ministry and how do we want to pay for it? These are the driving questions you need to consider when preparing your yearly budget.
At a recent youth pastor roundtable I heard a youth pastor say, “If you are serious about helping parents disciple their kids then put a line it in your budget for discipling parents. If you don’t budget for it, then ‘helping parents’ will only get your leftovers.” I thought this was very profound.
Budget for Parent Discipleship
If you have last year’s budget and you don’t want to reinvent the wheel, you could add a percent increase to the line item and be done. However, this way leaves a lot to chance and is based on notion that you don’t want to do anything new next year or that you must cut something to fund new vision. This style of budget also limits your ability to promote your vision and calendar with some of the big influencers in the church, the finance committee.
What I recommend is a “zero based” budget. A “Zero base” budget meaning you are not building your budget based on last year budget, and not on the previous years spending but on what you plan to do next year.
Here is a quick list to help you make a budget:
A budget will reflect your vision and calendar for the church.
1. Write Out your Vision for the year including special things you want to emphasis or physical improvement you wish to make. Sometimes it is hard to place a price on a vision, but let’s give it a try.
2. Grab your calendar and make a list!
Make a list of all your activities by type and add to that list any physical improvements you are hoping to make this year as well. Remember your vision components from step 1 and make sure each idea part of the vision is accounted for in your list. If you do not have a plan yet for a vision item not reflected in your budget that is ok. Enter the vision idea like so, “Parents” put it in a category such as Event/Training or any category that you feel it might eventual go.
Here is a quick list of expenses or categories that most youth groups needs to consider in the budgeting process:
Curriculum, Environment, Leaders, Travel, Events, Games, Music, Administration, Snacks, Child Protection Checks.
Obviously, you might combined some of these categories but you need to make as many groups as you need to help you cover everything. This example is not exhaustive.
Big Events/ Trips
- January – MLK Weekend Trip – 30 kids x (Conference cost $100 + $20 Food + $50 Transportation)
- March – D-Now
- June – Summer Camp (extra money for chaperon meals this year)
- Parenting Event with D-Now
- Graduation and Promotion Event
Group Time/ Teaching
Training / Teachers
- Teacher Thank you
- Lunch for training event
3. Now determine the amount of money you will need for each item in the list.
This number is might be an estimate and may be a portion of the whole cost of the item depending on student contribution and fundraisers. In some cases this number might be a “gut feeling” or a number that you have predetermined. Example: Ski Trip $1000 is all you are willing to budget for a ski trip. This number is not based on cost but on your decision.
To come up with an estimate per item this might require you to guess at the number of students and adults that will attend. This will also take some investigative shopping to come up with some good estimates.
Having last year’s budget, expenses, and a computer handy will make this much easier. If you don’t know the number that best represent your vision for the category spend some time digging, asking for help from other youth pastor who may have done this* but make an estimated guess for now.
Here is a quick way to make an estimated guess.
Everyone is different in how they develop their cost for a trip.
Total Cost of Retreat – $6000 (van, food, conference fees, misc.)
- Students fee – $3500 ( the price you will charge the students x no. of students)
- Adult fees – $500
- Fund Raiser – $1000
Budget Request $1000 or 16% of total cost
The example is very limited but should give you an idea.
4. Total all the lines in your category’s and compare to last year’s budget.
5. If there is anything new or unusual in the budget that you feel you need to explain to the Budget team detail it out for them or request a meeting.
A written explanation that you email the pastor and the team in advance of the meeting is the best way to go. That way if they have any question they can ask.
6. Share the budget with your key leaders and pastor and ask for input.
Yes, this assumes you have built in the time needed to do this. But at a very minimum you need to send your pastor a copy before you give this to the budget team. He does not ever need to be surprised.