Once you’ve translated your dreams into numbers, the next step in crafting your budget proposal is to determine where your ministry’s budget will come from. Typically, youth ministries derive their budget from a combination of three sources:

  1. Money from the church budget
  2. Student fees
  3. Fundraising.

Once you’ve determined your ministry’s revenue streams, determine what line items in your budget you’ll fund using each revenue stream. (A line item is a budget element that is separately identified. So within your youth ministry’s budget, you will likely have separate line items for things like weekly programming, leadership development, retreats, camps, and mission trips – basically everything you previously dreamed up.) To do this, consider these questions:

  • Under what circumstances will you charge student’s money and therefore collect student fees?
  • If you charge student’s money for various events, how will you make your ministry affordable and accessible to all people regardless of their socioeconomic status?
  • Under what circumstances will you fundraise? Do you need to fundraise to augment your ministry’s regular operating budget or can fundraising be reserved only for special events?

In my ministry, we use money from our church budget to fund our weekly programs, including Sunday School and our midweek gathering. We also use money from our church budget to help offset the cost of large events like retreats and mission trips. In particular, we use the church budget to cover the cost of ministry supplies (curriculum, honorariums, experiential supplies, etc) and the cost of adult leaders who participate in these events. Since adults are already giving their time at a very real cost to their families (and an actual cost in terms of vacation time) we don’t also want to ask adult leaders to cover their trip fees. Additionally, we only  fundraise for our summer mission trips (not for summer conferences). This makes it easier to fundraise for specific causes because we can say things like “$100 will be used to buy windows for the church in Community X” or “$200 will be used as an honorarium for the pastor who’s hosting us.”

Keep in mind that some of your ministry’s largest line items may well derive their funding from a combination of revenue streams. For example: My retreat is funded by money from our church budget as well as student fees. With that in mind, once you determine which of your line items will be funded by multiple sources, calculate how much of that line item you’ll need to request from your church budget. To do this, determine how much you’ll charge students for the event. One easy way to do this is to charge students for their transportation to and from the event, their food, and lodging. Calculate that cost, multiply it by the number of students you expect to participate and then deduct that sum from the total event cost. The remainder is what you’ll need to request in your church budget, which should cover all your other costs associated with the event (adult leaders, experiential supplies, curriculum, honorariums, etc.)

As was the case when you translated your dreams into numbers, show all your work in a master spreadsheet. You (or more importantly, a stakeholder in your ministry) should be able to look at your budget and for each line item listed, see the total cost of that line item and the breakdown of how it’s being funded.

Next week we’ll look at crafting your actual budget proposal.

Other posts in this series: 

Dream Big 

Translating Dreams into Numbers