To prepare your church or ministry for financial health, you need a plan, also known as a budget. Having faith that God will provide everything your church or ministry needs is important. But it is also important to use proper tools and processes as you wisely steward what God provides. A budget takes inventory of your expected income and expenses, and it helps you decide how to prioritize where you will allocate the tithes and offerings your church receives. But where should you begin? This checklist will assist you as you start to gather information and choose the type of budget that is best for your church or ministry.
A Budgeting Checklist for Churches and Ministries
Click on the image to download a PDF version of the church budgeting checklist.
Tips for Creating Your Church or Ministry Budget
Compile All the Data You Can
To get a clear picture of your church’s finances so you can be a good steward of the funds God provides, we recommend collecting as much information as you can. This may include reports on cash flow, building campaign updates, debt numbers and debt repayment plans, bank statements, and more. Together, this information can give you insight into not only what you spend your money on but also why you choose to incur certain expenses to help accomplish your mission.
Be Transparent About Your Church’s Finances
Your church needs to wisely steward its finances, but stewarding the money God provides doesn’t mean you can’t spend it. You need to pay your staff and ministry expenses, and you likely need to pay for logistical expenses, such as insurance. Having a plan for how you will use the money you receive helps demonstrate transparency to your congregation and to your board or elders.
The funding you receive has a purpose, and your people expect you to use it to achieve your mission, so be transparent about how your church spends money and what it spends money on. A church budget can help you by displaying your projected income and planned expenses clearly and accurately for your people to see.
Invite Feedback From Those Who Are Involved
In most churches, the people who are actively leading church ministries are the people who understand the ins and outs of what is needed to run those ministries. That includes the necessary resources. These staff members or volunteers can inform you of areas that lack funding as well as areas where your church can cut back on expenses, so it helps to involve them in the budgeting process.
Not only will it help everyone be on the same page, but involving them can help you avoid conflicts in the long run. You don’t want to find out later that you cut spending on areas that needed legitimate financial support. Asking your staff for their input also helps empower them to own the process and be accountable for the funding and other resources that their ministries receive.
Know the Questions You Need to Answer on Your Reports
Who reviews the financial reports for your church? Is it you, the elders, your board, a committee, a bank, etc.? What do they need to know? What questions are they likely to ask? The financial reports you generate should answer those questions. Your budget reports, along with your Income Statement, Balance Sheet, and other reports, all contain valuable information about your church finances.
Your Budget Is for Your Church or Ministry
The budget you create is for your church, not a different one. It should be entirely unique to your organization. It may have similar areas to many churches, but it’s not going to be identical. Your specific values, needs, and mission should all be reflected in your church budget.
This church budget checklist is a good starting point for how to create your budget, but your church may need to make alterations based on your particular needs. While this checklist can help you identify some key areas when creating a healthy budget, there is no one-size-fits-all template for a church budget.
You can create a church budget, view your fund balances, and track your budget to actual numbers at any time with Aplos. Watch a short demo to see how your church can use fund accounting software to prepare a church budget, demonstrate transparency, and steward your finances well. You can also try the software free for 15 days.