Once you’ve translated your dreams into numbers and figured out the various revenue streams you’ll use to fund your ministry, the next step in the budget process is actually crafting your proposal.

Your budget proposal should contain two things: An executive summary and a longer, more detailed proposal.

The executive summary is essentially a “top sheet” for all the money-minded business people on your church council / board. It enables people to see at a glance how much money you’re requesting and what it will fund. Essentially, your executive summary is a spreadsheet containing two columns: The name of each line item (A line item is a budget element that is separately identified) in your ministry’s budget and the cost of that line item (according to the calculations you made when translating your dreams into reality). For example, my youth ministry’s budget contains the following line items:

  • Weekly programs
  • Curriculum
  • Social events
  • Retreats
  • Leadership Development
  • Celebrations (Money for gifts for birthdays, adult leaders, etc.)
  • Visitation (Money for coffee with students and adult leaders)
  • Service events
  • High school summer trip
  • Junior high summer trip.

As you prepare your executive summary, arrange your line items in a logical way – perhaps in order of importance – and then total the cost of all of your line items in order to depict the total amount of money you’re requesting in your ministry’s budget.

Once you’ve compiled your executive summary, use it to craft a longer, more detailed proposal as a separate document. You’ll want to include this along with your executive summary for those stakeholders who are more detailed oriented. When such people see the amount of thought you’ve put into your ministry’s budget, their confidence in you (and your stewardship of whatever money they entrust you with) will grow. 

Your longer, more detailed part of your budget proposal should go line item by line item through your budget. For each line item, first restate the amount you’re requesting from your church’s budget. Next, explain what the money in that line item will be used for. For example, in this part of my proposal, I break my weekly programming budget into two subheadings: Sunday and Wednesday. I then list how much money is required for game supplies, food, technology, experiential teaching supplies, and the like.

After you’ve listed the costs that go into each line item, write 2-3 sentences that explain the why behind the what for each line itemUse this part of your proposal to cast your vision and explain to your stakeholders why each of your line items is vital to your ministry. When people understand the impact of each of your ministry’s programs, it will be much easier for them to fund your ministry, especially when you also take time to educate people about your budget, something we’ll look at more next week.

Other posts in this series: 

Dream Big 

Translating Dreams into Numbers 

Revenue Streams