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As you “Ring in the New Year” and celebrate the successes of 2016, it’s time to look towards the future and determine what you would like to accomplish in the next twelve months.   A great way to memorialize these goals is within a budget.  A budget is a planning tool that reflects an organization’s program, mission, and strategic financial goals and the resources required to accomplish this plan.

For many organizations, the largest question when starting a budget is “How do I get started?”  We’ve compiled a list of helpful tips in the budgeting process.

Pre-Budget Planning

  • Identify the person responsible for the overall budget process and final product
  • Establish a timeline from preparation to approval & set deadlines along the way
  • Assign department heads responsible for each section of the budget
  • Set clear expectations

Review of Performance

  • Review the previous year’s performance metrics
  • Understand how the organization performed against its previous year’s goals
  • Identify areas of success and areas of improvement

Goal Setting

  • Discuss the organization’s mission and areas of focus for the upcoming year
  • Set short term and long term goals
  • Set measurable department or programmatic goals and targets that align with the organization’s mission or strategic plan

Income and Expense Targets

  • Department heads must establish income targets based on review of previous performance, goal setting, and thoughtful projections
  • Department heads should also set expense limits for each department or program
  • Involve department staff in the budgeting process to gain relevant information, feedback, and ideas, as well as compliance (involvement in the process will improve accuracy and commitment to the plan)

Review and Approval

  • The budget should be reviewed by management for accuracy, completeness, and alignment with the organization’s mission
  • Submit to the board of directors or finance committee for review and approval


  • The budget should be disseminated to all department heads and responsibilities assigned
  • Adherence to the budget should be continually monitored (i.e. weekly or monthly)
  • Implementation of the budget with the accounting system to ensure monthly analysis of budget-vs-actual results
  • Update and revise the budget as needed (this may require submission to the board for approval)

We Can Help

Budgeting is a principle element of fiscal discipline.  An effective budgeting process is key to an organization’s success. Lindsay & Brownell, LLP can assist your organization through the budgeting process, analysis of budget-vs.-actual results, and integration of essential best practices. Let us help you with your 2017 New Year’s Resolutions! Please call Kristi Yanover at 858-558-9200

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