Navigating the financial landscape of a nonprofit organization can be a complex task. Strategic budgeting is more than just allocating funds; it’s about making a meaningful impact. It’s here that budget software for nonprofits becomes a game-changer, simplifying the process and ensuring efficiency.
In this blog post, we’ll explore the basics of nonprofit budgeting and how software can streamline this essential task. We’ll provide a step-by-step guide on how to utilize nonprofit budget software effectively, making the process manageable even for those new to the nonprofit sector. So whether you’re an experienced financial manager or a novice, this guide will offer valuable insights into nonprofit budgeting. Stay tuned as we delve into the world of budget software for nonprofits and their role in creating an impactful nonprofit budget!
Table of contents
- Understanding Nonprofit Budgets
- Tips to Create a Nonprofit Budget
- Role of Budgeting Software in Nonprofit Accounting
- A Step By Step Guide to Creating a Nonprofit Budget
- Bottom Line
Understanding Nonprofit Budgets
Nonprofit budgets are financial plans that outline an organization’s projected income and expenses over a specific period. They guide the organization’s financial decisions, effectively supporting the mission and goals.
What Is A Nonprofit Budget?
A nonprofit budget is a detailed plan that outlines how an organization will receive and spend money within a specific period, typically a fiscal year. It serves as both a guide and a tool, helping organizations manage their resources effectively to achieve their mission and strategic goals.
What are the main components of a nonprofit budget?
The main components of a nonprofit budget are income and expenses. The income section details all anticipated sources of revenue for the organization, such as donations, grants, fundraising events, membership fees, and any other income-generating activities.
The expenses section, on the other hand, outlines all expected costs. These can be further categorized into program expenses (those directly related to fulfilling the organization’s mission) and operational or administrative expenses (the costs of running the organization itself, like staff salaries, office rent, utilities, etc.).
The difference between total income and total expenses results in either a surplus (if income exceeds expenses) or a deficit (if expenses exceed income). Ideally, a nonprofit aims for a balanced budget with a slight surplus, providing some financial cushion for unexpected costs or changes in revenue.
Importance of budgets for nonprofits
In essence, a nonprofit budget is more than just a spreadsheet of numbers. It’s a strategic document that reflects the organization’s priorities, guides its decision-making, and helps it stay accountable to its members, donors, and the public. By leveraging nonprofit budget software, organizations can streamline this complex process, ensuring accuracy, efficiency, and transparency in their financial management.
A well-planned nonprofit budget comprises several elements:
- Revenue: This includes all sources of income for the organization, such as donations, grants, membership fees, and revenue from fundraising events or sales of goods/services.
- Expenses: These are the costs incurred by the organization. Expenses can be divided into two categories: program expenses (directly related to achieving the organization’s mission) and administrative expenses (indirect costs like salaries, office supplies, etc.).
- Surplus or Deficit: The difference between total revenue and total expenses indicates whether the organization has a surplus (profit) or deficit (loss). A surplus can be reinvested into the organization, while a deficit may require cost-cutting or increased fundraising efforts.
- Cash Flow: This section details when income is expected to be received and when expenses are due. It helps in managing the organization’s liquidity and ensuring there’s enough cash on hand to cover expenses.
In simple terms, your budget is a financial plan for the year. It quantifies your annual strategy and used to communicate with your organization’s board, staff and funding sources.
Nonprofit Management Tool
Management tool measures progress towards goals:
- Monthly review of revenue and expenses
- Creates accountability by department and for the organization as a whole
- Separates program budgets from special budgets for capital projects or fundraising events
- Budget must be created from the bottom up to reflect each program’s individual fiscal requirements
Creating Your Budget
Before you get started, you need to have a strategic plan. This is the basis for ensuring your budget aligns with your plan. To get started, you can use financial statements to provide you with data that can guide you through the budget creation process.
- Review current and prior year actual income and expenses
- Budget must be split by program and department
- Review grants
- Review with program directors
- Factor in new salary positions, cost of living increases (salaries), increases in overhead, additional program needs
- Budgets should be balanced – Revenue and expenses are equal
- Budget must be entered on a month to month basis to account for variables for time of year
- Determine if your budget incorporates an allocation of indirect costs to programs
- Must be approved by treasurer, finance committee, grantors and board of directors
Nonprofit Budget Types
In December, 2017, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) issued changes for simplifying classification of nonprofit net assets. While the nonprofit budget is not subject to these standards, it will be easier if these changes are implemented to remain consistent moving forward. To summarize, contributed revenue, such as donations, contributions and grants, are simply classified as contributed revenue with or without restrictions.
- Net Zero Budget: Revenue = Expenses – Necessary for Grants. Spend it or lose it.
- Net Operating Loss Budget: Expenses exceed Revenue: Loss is covered by prior year net asset carryover, or unrestricted revenue.
- Net Surplus Budget: Revenue exceeds Expenses. Surplus must come from unrestricted revenue or grants.
Tips to Create a Nonprofit Budget
Step 1: Determine what your timeline is
Use a timeline when creating a nonprofit budget so that goals are realistic and time-based. Having a timeline also allows you to track progress and make necessary changes.
Step 2: Agree on what the goals are
Agree on goals before creating a nonprofit budget, in order to ensure that the budget is actually useful. Having clear and achievable goals will help you achieve your organization’s objectives more quickly and efficiently.
Step 3: Define what your nonprofit’s revenue streams are
When creating a budget for a nonprofit organization, it is important to take into account all possible sources of revenue. This includes money from grants, donations, sponsorships, and other programs. Knowing how much money your nonprofit is making can help you better allocate resources.
Step 4: Create supplier and partner relationships, and set costs
Supplier and partner relationships can help with creating a nonprofit budget by providing ongoing budget-to-actual reports and helping with the preparation of mid-year budget revision.
Step 5: Identify all of your expenses
Identify all expenses when creating a nonprofit budget in order to have an accurate financial picture of the organization. This will help prioritize spending and ensure that the largest expenses are accounted for.
Nonprofit organizations need to identify all expenses in order to maintain financial health. The largest expenses will have the most impact on a nonprofit’s budget, so it is important to have accurate numbers for them. Common expenses for nonprofits include salaries for staff and costs for office rent, electricity, internet, software subscriptions, and travel. Creating a budget that doesn’t rely on grants is important in order to maintain financial stability. Anticipating and accounting for large expenses such as the cost of hiring new staff before tackling smaller expenses is also crucial.
Step 6: Develop a draft income budget
Develop a draft income budget when creating a nonprofit budget because it allows you to ensure that the budget meets your program and organizational goals. By starting with expected income and then calculating expenses accordingly, you can create a balanced budget that will help maintain your organization’s financial stability.
Step 7: Develop a draft expense budget
Use a budget when creating a nonprofit organization because it will help you plan for the future. The budget will act as a roadmap for your nonprofit, and will help you make decisions about how to allocate your resources. Additionally, the budget will help you track your progress and ensure that you are staying on track to meet your goals.
Step 8: Figure out your cash flow projection
Determine cash flow projection when creating a nonprofit budget in order to ensure that there will be money available when needed. Cash flow projections should be based on program budgets, and if an organization’s expenses outpace its revenue, it may need to build up a large cash surplus. Board members should have a direct role in developing cash flow projections, and the projections should be reviewed carefully to ensure accuracy.
Step 9: Separate operational from capital budget
Keep operational and capital expenses separate when creating a nonprofit budget in order to maintain financial health. By doing so, it allows for better tracking of where money is being spent and more accurate budgeting in the future.
Step 10: Simplify- don’t overwhelm
The budgeting process is important for a nonprofit organization because it can help simplify their finances and the key to financial health. If the budgeting process is too complicated or overwhelming, it can be difficult to stick to and may cause more financial problems. By starting early and being clear about what the budget is for, nonprofit organizations can avoid making assumptions that could lead to financial difficulties.
Step 11: Keep on top of the numbers
Set organizational goals before discussing budget numbers with their boards. A budget should be preceded by or accompanied by set organizational goals, which will help nonprofits understand the financial implications of their proposals. It is important for nonprofits to keep numbers in context, by referring back to goals endorsed by their boards. A nonprofit budget should be revisited and adjusted monthly to match actual performance. Changes to the budget should be made in order to stay on track with strategic goals.
Step 12: Monitoring the budget throughout the year
Monitoring the budget is important in order to keep track of their strategic plan and how they are performing. Additionally, monitoring the budget allows for adjustments to be made so that the nonprofit can stay on track with their goals.
It is important to monitor the budget throughout the year in order to keep a close eye on your nonprofit’s strategic plan and performance. Comparing budget vs. actual results allows you to stay on top of variances and make changes as needed.
Role of Budgeting Software in Nonprofit Accounting
As we delve deeper into the financial side of running a nonprofit, it’s clear that strategic budgeting is essential. However, managing a nonprofit budget can be a complex and time-consuming process. This is where budgeting software comes to the rescue. In this section, we’ll explore the role of budgeting software in nonprofit financial management. We’ll look at how these tools can simplify the task, increase accuracy, and provide valuable insights that can drive decision-making and improve financial stability. Whether you’re already using nonprofit budget software or considering it for the first time, this section will shed light on its importance and benefits in managing your organization’s finances.
Benefits of Using Budget Software for Nonprofits
Nonprofit budgeting software can bring a host of benefits that streamline operations and improve financial management. Here are some key advantages:
- Efficiency: Instead of manually creating and updating spreadsheets, budgeting software automates these tasks, saving valuable time and reducing the risk of human error.
- Accuracy: Budgeting software reduces the likelihood of errors that can occur with manual data entry. It ensures that all calculations are accurate, providing reliable financial data.
- Real-Time Tracking: With budgeting software, nonprofits can monitor their income and expenses in real-time. This allows for quick adjustments if actual numbers deviate significantly from the budgeted figures.
- Improved Reporting: Budgeting software often includes robust reporting features. These reports can provide valuable insights into an organization’s financial health, making it easier to make informed decisions.
- Transparency: By maintaining all financial data in one place, budgeting software improves transparency. This is particularly important for nonprofits, which need to demonstrate responsible financial management to donors and regulatory bodies.
- Forecasting: Many budgeting software solutions include forecasting tools. These can help nonprofits predict future income and expenses based on historical data, helping them plan more effectively.
- Integration with Other Systems: Most budgeting software can integrate with other systems like donor databases or accounting software. This provides a more holistic view of the organization’s finances and simplifies data management.
Overall, budgeting software can be a game-changing tool for nonprofits. By automating and simplifying the budgeting process, these tools can free up time for staff to focus on the organization’s mission, while ensuring sound financial management.
What to look for in Nonprofit Budgeting Software
When selecting budget software for a nonprofit organization, several features are crucial to ensure the tool meets your needs. Here’s a deeper look at four key features:
User-Friendly Interface: The best budget software should have an intuitive, user-friendly interface. This is crucial to ensure that all users, regardless of their tech-savviness, can navigate the system with ease. An intuitive interface also reduces the learning curve, enabling your team to get up to speed quickly.
Customizable Budget Templates: Every nonprofit has unique budgeting needs based on its activities, programs, and funding sources. Customizable budget templates allow you to create a budget structure that matches your organization’s specific requirements. This feature improves the relevance and usability of the budget, making it a more effective management tool.
Real-Time Financial Reporting Capabilities: The ability to generate real-time financial reports is another important feature. It allows you to monitor your financial performance against budgeted figures at any given moment. This real-time visibility enables quick adjustments when necessary, improving financial control and decision-making.
Integration with Other Financial Management Tools: Budget software should be able to integrate seamlessly with other financial management tools used by your organization, such as accounting software or donor management systems. This integration eliminates the need for duplicate data entry and ensures consistency of financial data across different platforms. It also provides a more holistic view of your organization’s finances, supporting more informed decision-making.
In conclusion, these four features — a user-friendly interface, customizable budget templates, real-time financial reporting capabilities, and integration with other financial management tools — are critical to consider when choosing budget software for your nonprofit. They enhance the usability, relevance, and effectiveness of the budget, ultimately supporting better financial management.
A Step By Step Guide to Creating a Nonprofit Budget
Creating a budget is a crucial task for any nonprofit organization. The process can seem daunting, but with the right tools and a systematic approach, it becomes manageable. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to create a nonprofit budget using budgeting software:
Step 1: Choosing the Right Nonprofit Budget Software
Your first step should be selecting a budgeting software that fits your nonprofit’s needs. Consider features like usability, real-time reporting, integration capabilities, and customization options.
Step 2: Setting Up Your Budgeting Framework in the Software
Once you’ve chosen your software, set up your budgeting framework. This includes defining your budget categories (income, expenses, etc.), time periods (monthly, quarterly, etc.), and any other parameters unique to your organization.
Step 3: Inputting Revenue Forecast in the Software
Next, input your revenue forecast into the software. Include all sources of income such as donations, grants, fundraising events, and any other revenue streams. It’s important to be realistic and conservative in your estimates to avoid over-optimistic projections.
Step 4: Inputting Expense Estimates in the Software
After forecasting your revenue, estimate your expenses. These can be broken down into categories like program expenses, administrative costs, and fundraising expenses. Again, it’s crucial to be realistic in your estimates. Remember to account for unexpected costs by including a contingency budget.
Step 5: Reviewing and Adjusting the Budget Within the Software
Now that you have your revenue and expense estimates, review your budget. Ensure it aligns with your strategic goals and adjust where necessary. Most budgeting software will allow you to tweak your figures easily until you’re satisfied with the final budget.
Step 6: Monitoring and Updating the Budget Using Software Tools
Once your budget is finalized, the work isn’t over. Regularly monitor your actual income and expenses against the budgeted figures. Use the software’s reporting tools to help you identify any discrepancies and adjust your budget accordingly.
Creating a nonprofit budget is not a one-time task but an ongoing process of planning, monitoring, and adjusting. With the right software and a systematic approach, it can become an effective tool for financial management and strategic decision-making.
Budgeting software can provide the tools necessary to streamline processes, increase accuracy, and improve financial visibility. It’s an investment that can save your organization time and money, allowing you to focus more on your mission and less on administrative tasks.
The benefits of budgeting software become even more pronounced when you choose a solution designed specifically for nonprofits, like FastFund Online. As an all-in-one solution integrating nonprofit accounting, fundraising, and payroll, FastFund eliminates the need for multiple disparate systems, bringing all your crucial financial functions into one platform. This not only simplifies your operations but also ensures data integrity and consistency across your organization.
FastFund Accounting offers a robust, user-friendly platform that caters specifically to the unique needs of nonprofits. It streamlines the budgeting process, eliminates manual errors, and provides real-time financial insights—empowering your organization to make informed, strategic decisions.
By embracing technology like FastFund, your organization can achieve greater financial control, efficiency, and transparency. But don’t just take our word for it. Experience the power of FastFund firsthand.
We invite you to schedule a live demo of FastFund today. See how this professional budgeting software can transform your nonprofit’s financial management and help you better serve your mission. Remember, at FastFund, your success is our success. We look forward to partnering with you on your journey to financial excellence.
1. What is nonprofit budgeting?
Nonprofit budgeting is the process of creating a plan to manage an organization’s income and expenses. This financial plan serves as a roadmap, helping nonprofits allocate resources effectively to achieve their mission.
2. Why is budgeting important for nonprofits?
Budgeting is crucial for nonprofits as it helps them manage funds responsibly, plan for future financial needs, monitor cash flow, and measure their progress against strategic objectives. It also ensures transparency and accountability to stakeholders.
3. What are the basic steps to create a nonprofit budget?
The basic steps involve setting financial goals, estimating income and expenses, drafting the budget, reviewing and adjusting the draft, and finally, approving and implementing the budget. Regular monitoring and revisions are also part of the ongoing budget management process.
4. How can budgeting software help nonprofits?
Budgeting software can streamline the budget creation and management process. It automates repetitive tasks, reduces manual errors, provides real-time financial insights, and integrates with other financial tools. This leads to more efficient, accurate, and informed decision-making.
5. What features should I look for in nonprofit budgeting software?
Look for software that offers customization to match your organization’s unique needs, integration with other financial tools, a user-friendly interface, robust reporting capabilities, and secure data protection.
6. Can budgeting software accommodate changes in the budget throughout the year?
Yes, most budgeting software allows for adjustments and modifications as needed throughout the year. This flexibility is essential to adapt to changing circumstances and ensure the budget remains a useful tool for financial management.
7. How can I convince my board to invest in budgeting software?
Highlight the benefits such as time savings, increased accuracy, improved financial oversight, and better strategic decision-making. Also, consider presenting a cost-benefit analysis to demonstrate the value for money that budgeting software can offer.
8. What kind of training or support is available for using budgeting software?
Most providers offer comprehensive support, including initial setup assistance, training materials, tutorials, and ongoing customer service. Some may also offer personalized training sessions or online webinars.
9. Is budgeting software secure?
Reputable budgeting software uses advanced security measures to protect your financial data. This includes encryption, secure servers, and regular system updates. However, it’s always a good idea to review the provider’s security policies before making a decision.
10. Can I try the software before making a decision?
Many software providers offer a free trial or demo so you can test out the features and see if it’s a good fit for your organization. It’s a great way to evaluate the software’s usability, functionality, and value.
Want to read more? Check out these insightful articles:
Did you find this article useful? We welcome your thoughts and comments.