The budget is a key tool that keeps track of and monitors the finances of your student organization. Depending on the frequency of your transactions and your intended spending, your budget may look different and should be geared toward the goals and plans of your group. To prepare a budget for your group, please consider the following:
Benefits of a Budget
Having a budget in place for your group finances is extremely beneficial in the following ways:
- Money Management: Plan out your finances and be aware of how much you will need for each initiative
- Resource Allocation: Figure out how much you need to allocate to each initiative to achieve your goals
- Guide Decision-Making: Have an outline to guide financial decisions by looking at the bigger picture instead of getting too caught up in the current initiative
- Reality Check: Be aware of what you are capable of given any possible financial constraints
- Future Planning: Considers the future so that sufficient financial resources are set aside for each initiative
- Securing Finances: Plans out financial resources as buffers just in case
- Identifies Issues In Advance: Recognizes early on if additional funds need to be raised, allowing time to plan for fundraising
- Reference for Future: Serves as a reference for following years, guiding successor teams on how to allocate their financial resources
Before Preparing Your Budget
Prior to preparing a budget, your team should consider the following:
- What is the timeframe of your budget? – Are you planning your budget for a semester or for one academic year?
- What are you group's goals for the year? – What is your group's vision?
- How is your group planning to accomplish your goals? – Consider your events or other initiatives
- What resources will you group need for your plans? – Consider resources that need to be acquired and how much financial resources will need to be allocated to acquire each
- Where are your financial resources coming from? – Consider membership fees, sponsorships, funding, fundraising, etc
To prepare your budget, make sure your group does the following:
- Outline your plans for the timeframe of your budget (eg. events, initiatives, etc)
- Determine your current financial standing – record the financial resources currently available to you from funding, carry-over from previous years, etc
- Estimate any additional funding and when you expect it to arrive – eg. UTMSU funding, additional funding, fundraising, awards, etc
- Plan out the resources needed for each initiative or event in your plan and the financial resources needed to acquire them
- Review and assemble everything into a budget
- Present the budget to your group – Ask for any feedback and have members vote for budget approval
- Revise the budget as needed
Note: Make sure that you always allocate more money than needed and be flexible with your budget in the case that changes need to be made as situations arise.
Throughout your term, it is important to monitor your finances to ensure that you are following your budget and, if not, making changes to your budget accordingly.
- Determine a minimum balance – Decide on a minimum balance that will be in your group bank account at all times and do not dip into this amount for resources.
- Be clear about how your group will make financial decisions – Do all financial decisions require voting by the entire team? Who is in charge of making financial decisions?
- Keep clear records of your finances – Throughout the term, keep track of all the financial transactions of your clubs, including both expenses and revenue to monitor your finances
- Periodically compare your financial records and budget – It is important to refer back to your original budget to ensure you're on track or make necessary changes to get back on track
Note: Near the end of your budget period, remember to review the outcomes of your expenses and revenue to consider your priorities for the next budget period