Please Sir, I want some more… Budget

OliverMoooooore?  You want more?

Let’s face it, there are moments when the typical nonprofit budget process can descend to Dickensian depths of oppressiveness, misery and hopelessness.

So let’s take a moment to dream up a DIFFERENT story … something joyous … one in which all of the other parameters of your organization’s budget remain the stable, AND…

The reply to your request is, “Why, yes!  Gladly.  Here you go!  Here’s an increase to your organization’s budget of 10 percent!” 

What would YOU do with the money?

  • Pay down debt?
  • Commission a new work?
  • Give (or take) a raise?
  • Save it for a rainy day?
  • Purchase some needed equipment?
  • Hire a new staff position?
  • Increase your advertising?
  • Invest in staff training?

My experience is that it’s pretty easy to spread whatever amount might be allocated – if not to pursue some new ambition, then to relieve some of the risk of core operations.

So, what happens if we adjust the question to ask:  “What would you do with the money to pursue JUST ONE of your organization’s most profound challenges?”

Since you’re reading this blog, I imagine (or at least hope) that “audience building” figures high on your list of profound challenges.  Please let me invite you to LEAVE A REPLY to this blog post – and share whether that really is your organization’s TOP priority – and/or with what other top priorities it competes.

What stops you from actually dedicating a full 10% (or any other significant amount) to doing precisely that?  I know, I know – a balanced budget is a fragile thing.  Finding ANY extra money is always a challenge.

Nevertheless, I frequently wonder whether nonprofit organizations might better manage their budget processes by routinely building in something like a 10% un-allocated cash reserve – with the understanding that must be spent to pursue one of that organization’s MOST PROFOUND challenges.  I’m not talking about a rainy-day fund.  I’m talking about money that is INTENDED to be spent – but with a purpose ON TOP OF whatever that year’s operation depends.

Wouldn’t it be fun & productive to build your budget process around a protected capacity to return to your hard-working staff after & outside of the regular budget process to say, “But wait, there’s more!”

And give your organization a second-helping of budget capacity.

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