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Budgeting Basics: Translating Dreams Into Numbers

After you’ve let your dreams percolate, the next step in crafting your budget proposal is to translate your dreams into actual numbers.

To do this, go back through your lists, paying particular attention to your answers to this question: What programs, initiatives, events, conferences, training, and trips would enable you to take your ministry from where it is NOW to where you’d like it to be in a year? 

Attach a cost to each idea on your list. Now is not the time to trim your budget or look for shortcuts. Instead, continue dreaming. When you don’t know the cost of something, research it to find out. For example, let’s say your dreams for the next year of ministry include maintaining your weekly program, developing a Student Leadership Team, and taking teens on a summer trip. To begin attaching a cost to each of these large programs, start by breaking them down.

To craft a budget for your weekly program, first figure out how many weeks a year you’ll actually meet, taking into account weeks you might take off for the summer, holidays, or school programs. Then calculate the cost of your meeting each week. To run a single weekly program well, how much money do you need for

  • Food?
  • Game materials?
  • Experiential materials?
  • Visual illustrations or videos? 
  • Curriculum? (Or if you write your own curriculum, books / resources to help you prep your lesson?)

Then multiply the cost of your weekly program by the number of weeks you’ll meet during the upcoming year. Then consider how much money you’ll need for one-time yearly expenses related to your weekly program. These might include things like

  • Technology (Lights, Sound Equipment, Programs, Apps)
  • Licensing for music
  • Instruments
  • Chairs and/or tables. 

Add this to your weekly cost to determine the cost of your weekly program. As you calculate these various costs, create a budget that shows ALL of your work – not just the total for that line item but the smaller components that make up that line item.

In the same way, calculate the cost of your student leadership team. As with your weekly gathering, first figure out how many weeks a year your student leadership team will actually meet, taking into account weeks you might take off for the summer, holidays, or school programs. Then calculate the cost of your meeting each week. To run a single student leadership team meeting well, how much money do you need for

Then multiply the cost of your weekly program by the number of weeks you’ll meet during the upcoming year. Then consider how much money you’ll need for one-time yearly expenses related to your student leadership team. For instance, perhaps you want to host a leadership team retreat. In that case, consider the per person cost for food and lodging. Then multiply this by the number of people you expect to go on the retreat (don’t forget about your adult leaders!) Calculate how much additional money you’ll need for game materials and/or a team-building course, experiential materials, curriculum and/or a speaker honorarium. Also calculate transportation costs. Will you rent vans? A bus? Pay for gas for people? Add everything together to determine the total cost of your retreat. Then add one-time costs to the weekly cost of your student leadership team ministry in order to calculate its total cost. 

Likewise, calculate the cost of your summer trip. To do so, consider the per person cost for food and lodging as well as the conference / mission trip fee to your host organization. Multiply this by the number of people you expect to go on the trip (don’t forget about your adult leaders!) Then calculate how much additional money you’ll need for things like lodging and food on the way to and from your destination, a “fun day” outside the scope of the trip itself, and any other materials you’ll need to bring (like tools or sheetrock for a mission trip). Then calculate transportation costs. Will you rent vans? A bus? Pay for gas for people? Add everything together to determine the total cost of your trip.

Do this item by item for each program you currently have as well as each program or event that you think will help take your ministry from where it is now to where you want it to be. As you translate your dreams into numbers, be sure to also include things that may not be on the lists you created last week, but are still an important part of your ministry. These things might include money to take students and leaders out for coffee, money to celebrate birthdays, honor graduating seniors, and thank adult leaders, a book budget for you, continuing education money for you (and your leaders), and leader’s training (perhaps even a conference). Next week, we’ll look at the first step in using your numbers to craft your actual budget proposal.

 

 

 

 

 

By | 2016-11-19T08:03:14+00:00 November 11th, 2015|Uncategorized|0 Comments

About the Author:

Jen serves as the director of youth ministry at Faith Lutheran Church in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. Jen is the author of The Jesus Gap: What Teens Actually Believe about Jesus and the corresponding student devotional, The Real Jesus (The Youth Cartel). She's currently writing her third book, Unleashing the Hidden Potential of Your Student Leaders (Abindgon Press). Her writing has also appeared in YouthWorker Journal, Immerse, and The Christian Century. When not doing ministry, she and her husband Doug can be found hiking, backpacking, and traveling with their toddler, Hope.

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