It’s hard to believe that we are almost halfway through the year and before you know it budget planning will begin. Although some may prefer to take their chances with the White Walkers rather than face another budget season, here are four tips that may help to conquer the fear of this process and help you to make it through.
Call in all of your “Armies.” It takes more than just one person to win the war on budget prep. As you start the process, make sure to pull in all of your resources. Meet with your program managers, fund development directors, leaders and stakeholders. Each team member will play an important role in gathering the information necessary to complete the mission and end up with a comprehensive and realistic budget. It will be vital to ensure that everyone is aware of the role that they will play in the process, the timelines involved and that they are invested in the successful outcome of the process.
Each of the “Kingdoms” comprise only one part of the whole. Similar to the seven kingdoms within Westeros, an association typically has many departments or divisions that contribute towards a consolidated organizational budget. Each one of these components will need to be evaluated independently of the whole. Some common areas of review will include membership, conferences and events and administrative just to name a few. For example, when evaluating your membership revenue, review your membership counts, make any necessary updates for either attrition or growth and then assign the dues amount to the total membership numbers to calculate the projected membership revenue budget for the coming year. When evaluating the conference budget, begin by estimating attendees which will allow you to then calculate both revenue and direct expenses such as food and beverage. Once you have captured the activity for each of the individualized program areas, roll those up into one master budget in which they are each contributing towards the support of the overall organization.
Learn from The Past. Let’s face it, if we all had the powers of the three eyed raven, we certainly would not be talking about preparing for budget season. As nice as it would be to have the power to see into the future when preparing an annual budget, what we do have the power to do is learn from the past. Having a solid understanding of both current and past activity can help us to learn important lessons, evaluate trends and then apply what we have learned towards making predictions on future activity. It is important to review at minimum a full program cycle in order to account for cyclical activity. This historical activity can often serve as the starting point for budget preparation to which current and future assumptions can then be applied.
Embrace the end result – Or not. Finally, when all is said and done, the results might not always be what you may have expected. Programs might need to be restructured, sometimes not all will survive. There might even be a few dissenters within your “armies” that don’t agree with all of the decisions made. This is all ok. It is part of the process and often times can spark creative discussions on alternative strategies or approach. Just remember that whatever the results may be, it is in fact a budget. Something to work towards and benchmark against but it is not set in stone and can be impacted. And for those who just can’t accept the end results, there is always the opportunity to burn it all down and rewrite your story from the ground up.
If you find yourself fearing budget time (rather than winter), the Accounting Team at Talley Management Group can help with whatever your needs are, even if it’s just for a one-time project.