By Meaghan Kelly
It’s no secret that church budgets can be tight. To do the most good with this money, church administrators and facility managers should develop a healthy, long-term financial plan before spending any funds.
Here are five financial goals to strive for when creating and managing a church facilities budget.
#1: Be realistic with your church’s projected income.
When assembling a financial plan, start by taking a look at your church’s income from last year or the last several years. If you have multiple years to look at, identify if previous income shows an upward, static or downward trend. Identifying income trends is important because they will help your department accurately predict available funds for the current and upcoming years.
#2: Create a funding pool dedicated solely to maintenance emergencies.
Pipes burst. Roofs leak. Heaters break. The bottom line is that maintenance emergencies happen.
Thankfully, it’s easy to turn a maintenance crisis into a minor inconvenience. Put your mind at ease by setting aside three to six months of operating expenses. Use this money for unexpected maintenance and repair costs.
#3: Save a portion of your budget for future big-ticket expenses.
In addition to an emergency repair fund, it’s important to save for repairs that will inevitably happen down the road. A church should save funds according to its size and ages of critical assets. Establish a sinking fund for costly asset replacements like a new roof or HVAC system, for example.
#4: Conduct a life-cycle cost analysis for each critical asset within your church.
A life-cycle cost analysis helps facility managers determine cost-effective options for a church’s assets. You’ll determine costs associated with purchasing, owning, operating, maintaining and disposing of an asset. By calculating the total cost of ownership for an asset, you’ll be prepared to make smart decisions on whether or not the asset should be repaired or replaced.
#5: Be prepared to learn from failure and adjust existing budget strategies.
In reality, your financial plan might not work perfectly. This is where a budget strategy review process should come into play. Facility managers should review their financial decisions with church administrators on a monthly or quarterly basis. Budget review meetings will help ensure that your department has the funds it needs during a financial crisis or maintenance emergency.
Looking for more insight on church budgeting best practices? Check out the 2019 Guide to Church Care and Religious Facility Management.