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Perfect Time For Budget Planning

Posted: March 16, 2016 at 1:52 pm

Ah, springtime, the doldrums of winter are giving way to the crisp air and sunshine. So why don’t we just add preparing a budget into the mix? Probably not your first choice, but it’s that time of year for nonprofits everywhere. The new fiscal year officially kicks off July1.

This annual ritual doesn’t have to put you in a foul mood. All you need is a plan tied to your organization’s strategic goals and data to back up the numbers. Below are some key points to consider as you craft your communications and marketing budget:

Screen Shot 2016-03-16 at 11.00.50 AMConnect to the Bigger Picture
So exactly how much of your overall budget should be allocated to your communications efforts? Most experts recommend anywhere between 10-20%. This figure depends on the size and current financial reality of the organization. Large or small, we recommend you lobby hard for a budget. By doing so, you can begin to build allies at the leadership level who are more keenly aware of the role communications plays in the organization’s overall success.

If you have access to your organization’s communications data, take a look at the last two years of work. Do you have recurring expenses? Annual events? Which projects added value or were complete duds? These questions will help you craft a solid budget with a strong engagement strategy. Here’s a budget template developed by marketing consultant, Nancy Schwarz, you can use as a resource.

Budget Template:

Screen Shot 2016-03-16 at 11.03.32 AMDevil in the Details
It’s easy to overlook the finer details of your communications efforts such as brainstorming sessions, surveys, evaluations, research and the ever-present shipping, printing and consulting fees. Make sure to include them in your budget.

Keep a running tally of your larger initiatives as well. Rebranding efforts, website redesigns or a major capital campaign are big undertakings and will require dedicated dollars. Consider an incremental approach to get buy in for these projects. You may want to break them into smaller, more manageable pieces that are easier to sell to leadership and give you room to reevaluate and refine as you go along.

Screen Shot 2016-03-16 at 10.58.28 AMWin over your Board
The board of directors is accountable to the organization and they will be deliberate and thorough in their review of the budget. To win them over, make sure your budget connects back to the organization’s overarching goals. Also arm yourself with plenty of examples that speak to the power of your team’s strategy. Use survey data, feedback from stakeholders, articles written, television interviews and web analytics. All of it can play a key role in building support for the work done by the communications and marketing team. Always, always take it back to the organization’s top strategic goals. Here’s a list of additional questions you may want to ponder before you present your budget to leadership.

Sample Board Review Preparation Questions:

By creating a thoughtful budget connected to your organizations main goals and backed up with good data, you are more likely to get your budget approved and you can focus on what matter most – YOUR MISSION.

Contact Cheryl Musial at 678.737.7325 to discuss your roadmap to budget planning success.