A reflection on budgeting

Author: Susan Martin

Published on: 29 December 2017

Sitting quietly watching around him, the Wise Old Owl observed their faces.

He didn’t consider himself to be particularly “Wise” or particularly “Old”, but having been named Richard he decided it was better than being permanently known as “Dickie Bird”.

He waited for the audience to settle and started to speak; “I am going to tell you story, a story of events that happened a long way away, many years ago. Once there was country of many tribes, two of the tribes amicably shared life in a beautiful valley. The two tribes lived peaceably, we will call them “Debere” and “Credere. However, in spite of their many similarities, they ran their finance in very different ways. The Crederes always looked at their budget annually; worked out what they needed to spend; how to raise the money and then divided all the amounts by twelve. At the end of each month they could sleep easy as they had fulfilled their obligations. The Debere worked to a different system. They looked at their finances, collected all taxes, donations and charges, and made payments they were forced to or at the end of the year. This caused hard feelings between the tribes. Those who paid monthly to the Central Tribe Council felt that they were unfairly subsidising those who didn’t pay regularly”.

Wise Old Owl stopped and looked around, paused and continued “What do you think they did?” he asked. Heads were shaken. “I will tell you” he continued “they decide that Deberes would no longer receive the shared benefits brought by working together. One morning in the tenth month, as the weather was getting colder they woke up to no heating or light; the shops had not received deliveries and the workers from other Tribes had all gone home. They looked for their leader and couldn’t find him. All they found was a note, saying he had left as his salary hadn’t been paid for ten months”.

So why have a budget?

We are often told that a budget is an important way for the PCC to manage the Parish Finances. However, many on a PCC or in a congregation don’t know why it’s important. Maybe you set a budget at the beginning of the year and never hit any of the numbers. You wonder, “what’s the point?” Or, you set a budget and always come in over on revenue and under expenses, so you think, “I can do this without a budget”. Budgeting takes time and a lot of mental energy that is hard to drum up sometimes. So, why is it important? Here are three reasons why a budget is important for your Parish.

  1. A budget, that is shared, gets everyone singing from the same page Unless everyone knows what it costs to turn on the lights and the heating; pay the insurance; pay the Parish Share, it is hard to know how much a PCC needs to raise through its collections and fund raising events.
  2. A budget helps you to see changes you need to make ahead of time When you set your budget at the beginning of the year, you can see problems or other issues to address ahead of time. Your budget helps you to plan out the year, understanding when you need to make payments. Also it takes the worry out of how you will handle cash flow shortages or even better, windfalls!
  3. A budget gives you a measuring stick When a PCC uses a budget to help manage funds, it can determine whether or not it is on track. The budget is based on what you want to happen and what you think is going to happen. As you move through the year, you can analyse whether you are doing better, worse, or exactly as you thought you’d be doing. You can make adjustments to your plans to help you get to where you want to go. If you don’t have a budget, you won’t know that you didn’t get there! If you don’t have a budget you won’t know when to ask for help!

The author...

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Susan Martin

Diocesan Board of Finance Executive Committee Member

Diocesan House
109 Dereham Road

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