Five Good Ideas

Five Good Ideas about creating a good budget

Published on 25/05/2016

Our budgets are an important tool we can use to define our nonprofit organizations – to our funders, to our boards, to our staff, to ourselves. We need to have a strong budget in place to ensure we work on the right projects, provide a clear reason to donate, and help our clients see that we are serving them in the best way we know how. You may never have looked at budgets this way, but they really are just another way to tell your organization’s story. Lois Fine shared her five good ideas about creating a good budget. See why it is important to get behind, inside and through the numbers so that the story you tell is one that will really be heard.

Five Good Ideas

  1. Your budget lives in the house of the strategic plan. Build it from the ground up, tend to it line by line, and keep your windows wide open.
  2. Make sure your fundraising targets are realistic. Zero-based budgeting can be over-rated. Facing a deficit head on just might be better than relying on a fundraising plug.
  3. Ask any question: none is too small. When you’re approving the budget, no question is too small and no idea too big.
  4. Pay attention to capital purchases, they can be tricky. They eat up cash and put amortization costs into your budget for years.
  5. You can always change your forecast but the budget is the budget. You cannot budge it.

Five Good Resources

  1. National Council of Nonprofits: Budgeting for Nonprofits
  2. Nonprofits Assistance Fund: 10 Step Annual Budgeting Checklist
  3. The Wallace Foundation: A Five-Step Guide to Budgeting for Nonprofits
  4. DiverseCity onBoard Board Governance Training: Finance Fundamentals (developed by Lois Fine) is one of seven courses offered through this training program
  5. Charity Village: Budgeting basics and Realistic budgeting

Bonus resource: The Dirty Little Secret of NonProfit Boards

Lois Fine

Director of Finance and Information Technology, YWCA Toronto

Lois Fine, CPA, CGA, has over thirty years of accounting experience in the non-profit and charities sector. She is the Director of Finance and Information Technology at YWCA Toronto, with oversight of an annual budget of over $30 million. In this role, she recently oversaw the finances related to the construction of an $80 million 300-unit green and affordable housing project for women in downtown Toronto. She has consulted in the sector widely, serving agencies, private and public foundations, as well as government funding bodies. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Central Toronto Community Health Centre, Playwrights’ Guild of Canada, as well as serving on the Accounting Standards Oversight Council of Canada (AcSOC). AcSOC has oversight of the two standard setting boards in the country. She has chaired an allocations panel for United Way of Greater Toronto, and has served on the Board of the former Social Housing Services Corporation Financial Inc. An experienced instructor, Lois has taught Financial Management at the Emerging Leaders Program at the Schulich School of Business, York University, as well as for the Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association, Maytree, the Toronto Hostels Training Centre and Centennial College Non-Profit Certification Program through United Way. Lois is also involved in the Arts Community and is a writer/performer/producer.

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