A key component of financial sustainability is the commitment of board and staff to financial management that includes timely review of financial reports and advance planning. One way that board and staff plan for income and expenses in the future is by creating a budget. Approval of the annual budget is one of the fundamental building blocks of sound financial management.
Creating the annual budget is initially staff’s responsibility, but board members (usually those on the “finance committee” and/or “executive committee”) often review the proposed budget and the full board usually adopts the budget at a full board meeting. The approved budget then serves as a guide for financial activity in the months ahead.
A budget is a guide that can help a nonprofit plan for the future as well as assess its current financial health. It is quite common to periodically review the budget as well as compare it to the actual cash flow and expenses, to determine whether they are playing out as expected during the course of the year. It may be necessary to amend the budget during the year.
The budget is a document that is referred to many times throughout the year, and may even be requested by parties involved in financial transactions with the nonprofits, such as donors, major donors, and even by grantmakers when they are considering giving money to the nonprofit.