It's budgeting time again? Here are some thoughts on how to create better budgets.
•Understanding numbers is an important part of the budgeting process. However, it's not the most critical part. The most critical part is the strategic planning that goes along with the budgeting process. Getting a "numbers person" on your team will allow you to focus on the strategic planning and forget about the numbers.
• Remember that money is a tool. To properly prepare a budget, you need to know what that tool is going to do for you. If you needed to build a house, you wouldn't select random tools to work with. Instead, you would plan for which tools you'll need and what time. The same is true of budgeting.
• Many student executives are guilty of following a budget formula from year to year and then moving money around to cover additional expenditures later in the year. This is an inefficient way to manage money. Do some planning to know where your money will work best and hardest for you.
• At the same time, you might want to develop a list of budget goals. These are statements about how you expect your funds to work. For example, "From the $5,000 I am putting into elections I expect returns in the form of more voters." This helps you focus on where you financial needs are greatest.
• You should know that your budget does not exist in a vacuum. It is tied to the financial ebb and flow of the Student Body. In preparing your budget, you should know what the institution is experiencing financially. Talk to others and collect data from financial committee records. That information will help you prepare a budget that is in line with the rest of the institution.
• When designing a budget, build in some areas of compromise. If you need a big increase in one area, then try to find another area where you can cut some funds. The Senate has a limited amount of dollars to allocate. Do not request unnecessary funding. You don't necessarily have to match the changes dollar for dollar, but the budgeting committee and the Senate will appreciate your effort. Senate appreciates the efficency of organizations who search for areas where dollars might be saved.
• Don't make budgeting a closed-door process. Invite your other colleagues as well as anyone who has an interest in the budget. Getting input from many individuals will ensure that your budget considers many parameters.
• Cover all of your activities and explain all funding requests in detail. It is also very helpful to include the numbers regarding how much funding the Senate allocated for your past similar request and how much you ended up using of what was allocated. The more information and details you can give the Finance Committee the easier it is to go over the budget. If you have questions or concerns about the budgeting process or would like help creating a budget do not hesitate to contact the Finance Committee chair or any member of the Finance Committee. They will be glad to assist you.