Where is Your Organization NOT Spending its Money?

© ReSolve, Inc. 2008

Q: Where is your organization NOT spending its money?

A: The easiest way to determine an organization’s priorities is to look at the budget.

But sometimes the most telling stories are not what the organization is spending its money on. Sometimes it is more interesting to consider what the organization is NOT buying.

  • What percentage of your program budget is dedicated to staff training?
  • What percentage of your budget will result directly from ideas generated from your annual planning session (vs. items that are constant across the years)?
  • What percentage of your budget is dedicated to creating a significant, visionary improvement to the quality of life of your community?
  • What percentage of your budget is dedicated to community engagement - to engaging community members directly in your work?
  • What percentage of your budget is dedicated to ensuring your staff / board / volunteers know everything they need to know re: regulatory compliance?
  • What percentage of your budget is focused on “preventing organizational fires” vs. “putting out fires?”
  • What percentage of your budget is dedicated to improving the performance of your governing board?

The list could go on and on. And of course, that begs the next question:

If you are NOT budgeting for these critical items, what future are you creating for your organization, for your community, for the people whose lives you will be affecting?

On a $1 million budget, 1% is $10,000. If you feel any of the line items listed above are important to the ongoing performance of your organization, are you dedicating even 1% of your budget to those line items?

And one last question:

When it comes time for the board to decide whether or not to approve the budget, what will they base that decision on? How will they know whether or not they should approve the budget? What will drive that decision?

Budgets are about priorities first, and money second. What story is your budget telling? And if that is not the reality you want your budget to be creating, what are you going to do about it?

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