The budgeting process is an essential part of the planning process for a congregation.
- The usual operating budget period is for one year.
- The budget should be approved before the year begins.
- The budget should fit onto one page.
In the congregational tradition, the congregation votes to approve the budget. A simpler “summary budget” with fewer line items respects the congregation’s authority. That is, if the congregation votes a budget with $20,000 for Education, then it trusts the committee will make the best use of that money and will report back to the congregation regarding how it was spent. If, instead, the congregation votes a detailed budget that includes
- $16,000 for salary
- $2800 for curriculum
- $500 for snack, and
- $700 for craft supplies
— but then the committee decides to spend $400 for snack and $800 for supplies, then the committee would need to go back to the congregation to ask for approval for a budget amendment. Voting a summary budget of $20,000 for Education takes the congregation’s authority seriously, and allows the committee to make mid-year decisions as needed. Since the detail would be shown in the actual vs. budget reports, the committee would still be held accountable for their decisions.