Coach’s 2023 Budget Training Camp

Coach’s 2023 Budget Training Camp

Football season is just around the corner, and NFL teams are heading to their training camps in preparation for a winning season. The work they do in July/August will pave the way for success or failure once the season begins. At the same time, churches all over America are beginning their preparations for their budget for 2024. The work they do in budget preparations will determine financial success or failure. Most churches will fail. I’m here with my Coach’s 2023 Budget Training Camp edition.

First, let’s establish from a donor’s standpoint why budget planning is so important. There are three classic reasons why donors give to any organization.

  • First, they believe in the organization’s vision. I’ll share more on this later in the post.
  • The second reason is trust in the leadership of the organization.
  • Then finally, they must have confidence in the fiscal responsibility of how the organization manages money.

When you fail to hit or come close to making your budget, it impacts how your donors view you. Good budget planning and implementation help build confidence in your donor base.

The five most common mistakes churches make in budget preparation. There are five major mistakes most churches make when it comes to setting the budget.

  1. Unrealistic Expectations – This is the most common mistake made. Churches tend to always believe they can raise more than is possible. The result of this expectation is to increase the budget beyond the church’s capacity to support the increase. Why do they do this year after year? I find they make the mistake of basing their budget on:

    Need versus reality. Most churches base their budget on need rather than reality. I might think I need a Lexus, but if my budget can’t meet that expectation, I need to revise my expectations. A Toyota Camry will get you there just like a Lexus but for half the price.

    Your “need” must be supported by your ability to raise dollars to support that “need.” You may well have the needs you say you do. However, setting your budget too high can lead to difficult decisions later in the year when you are stretched too thin. Don’t let need cloud your judgment of your giving capability.

    What is a realistic increase? I believe in taking a step of faith. However, there is a difference between faith and folly. Here are some key things to consider if you are thinking of increasing next year’s budget.

    * The larger your budget, the smaller the increase should be.

    * 2% to 3% should be the norm if you are growing and outside factors like inflation and the economy are not working against you. During times of crisis or economic stress, I recommend freezing your budget or keeping increases below 2%.

    * Anything over 5% is risky unless your attendance has increased by 10% or your giving has increased by the amount of your next year’s budget increase.

    Any increase should be supported by facts, not hope. It’s always better to set your budget too low than too high.
  2. Poor Planning – This is one result of unrealistic expectations. Too few churches look at past giving trends or current giving trends as a means of projecting potential future giving. The lack of planning almost always guarantees you will not make your budget. Again, not being able to meet your budgeted needs forces you later in the year to make tough decisions that could have been avoided with good planning.
  3. Emotionless Presentation – Failing to connect the budget with the vision of the church. People give to life change, not hitting a line on a spreadsheet. Not only when we present the budget, but weekly, we must make the case for why people should give to support your work. Life change stories illustrate a church’s collective power using its finances for Kingdom growth.
  4. Disconnected Leadership – Several years ago, I wrote a book entitled The Top Ten Stewardship Mistakes Churches Make. The first chapter says it all, “The Disconnected Pastor.” Here I expand that to include all leadership. Too often, churches set their budgets and then do nothing else. Those days are gone.
  5. No Plan of Action – Without a plan of action, it is doubtful you will meet your budget numbers. From churches running thousands to those running less than a hundred, I have found that few churches have a stewardship/generosity plan of action. When you fail to plan you are planning on failing. Get a plan and work your plan!

Why is budget planning important for you? Here are a few key reasons why you need to plan well your next year’s budget…

  • Poor planning almost always guarantees you will NOT make the budget.
  • Poor planning can cause you to lose momentum.
  • Poor planning forces you to make tough decisions later in the year.

One of my long-time Brooks Giving Mantras is, Get a plan and work your plan! If you are increasing your budget, how do you plan on meeting that increase? You must have a plan of action to make that budget, or you are relying on hope, and hope is not a strategy.

Mark Brooks – The Stewardship Coach

Missions and Ministry Moment (aka Offering Talk) – This week’s talk can be accessed after you register at:

Share this post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *