It’s that time of year again when we’re making sure that we didn’t go over on this year’s budget and we’re trying plan for next year. Budgeting can be one of the most stressful things a children’s ministry leader can do if they don’t have a good plan to handle it. Any of my math teachers will tell you that number-crunching is not my strong suit (thank you to whoever had the brilliant idea to put a calculator in every cell phone. You are a true hero.) but over the years I’ve learned a couple of tricks that have helped me figure things out. So if you’re stressed about what to do or how to do it, rest easy. If I can do it so can you.
Here are the budgeting templates that we use at High Desert Church to put our children’s ministry budgets together (click on the links below to download each one):
Here’s what makes our budgeting a little bit unique:
1. We’re multi-site. We’ve got two campuses and we’re planning on launching a third in the fall of next year.
2. Each children’s ministry at every campus has its own budget. We don’t pull all of our money into one pot like Scrooge Mc Duck did in “Duck Tales.” (Building a giant tower with a huge golden dollar-sign on it is just ridiculous. It’s no wonder that the Beagle Boys were always breaking in!) Each campus has a set limit and a set budget so there’s no confusion as to how much money is really available.
3. Each sub-ministry at every campus has its own budget too. Our Victorville Campus elementary ministry has its own budget and so does our elementary ministry on our Apple Valley campus. Same thing with our nursery and preschool ministries at each campus. This helps everyone know what their limits are.
4. We use the same line-items on every campus and sub-ministry budget. For example, there’s a curriculum budget line in our elementary ministry on our Victorville Campus just like there is on our Apple Valley Campus. Really the only differences in each budget is the campus and the amount (a bigger campus needs a bigger budget; stuff like that). We include descriptions of what each line-item is so there’s no confusion about where and how we do our spending.
5. Everybody chips in on global ministry events and programming. We use the same curriculum at each campus so everyone chips in on that. Our Victorville Campus pays for more of it because we’re currently the biggest campus, have more budget to do so, and use more of it. The same principle applies to big events that we all do together like community events, camps, etc.
Our big secret to budgeting is to keep it as simple and aligned as possible. The less complexity and more standardization there is in the budgeting process, the easier it is to do and the more smoothly it runs throughout the year.
How does budgeting for children’s ministry work at your church? What tips and tricks have served you well over the years? Post them in the comment section.
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