You may be tempted to feel overwhelmed by all of the thought and consideration that must go into projecting a budget. Be of good cheer. It gets easier.
Keep the following in mind as you go about this task:
- Obtain as much factual data as you can before settling on a budget projection in any of the categories shown on the Budget Worksheet (MS Excel). The final version of your budget should be formatted like the Sample Project Budget (MS Excel). Above all, make sure you know what you intend to accomplish with your project and be sure of the resources it will take you to achieve your intended results. Every element of a budget must relate to an activity you intend to engage in. Otherwise, the budget is inaccurate and will confuse potential funders. If you hold off on creating your budget until after you have finalized decisions about your project Objectives and Methods, you will generally find the process of projecting a budget much easier.
- To get an idea of how much to budget in various cost categories, talk to organizations that supply services, rent equipment, or employ personnel in positions like those you need. If you are a project of Community Partners, we have a copy of the Center for Nonprofit Management's annual salary survey you can refer to. Ask other nonprofits about specific costs they incur. Talk to other Community Partners project leaders or talk directly to our staff.
- A budget is a planning tool designed to help you think through and get a handle on all aspects of your project that will cost money. You may not hit every number during your first year of operation, but if you use this tool well, you should come close.
- You probably will not use all of the categories in our materials. We include them to help you consider all possible costs.
- Take your time, but give yourself a reasonable deadline for developing your budget. The first time through will be the most challenging. Subsequent budgets will prove easier to develop.