Budgeting Basics: Crafting Your Budget Proposal

Once you've translated your dreams into numbers and figured out the various revenue streams you'll use to fund your ministry, the next step in the budget process is actually crafting your proposal.

Your budget proposal should contain two things: An executive summary and a longer, more detailed proposal.

The executive summary is essentially a “top sheet” for all the money-minded business people on your church council / board. It enables people to see at a glance how much money you're requesting and what it will fund. Essentially, your executive summary is a spreadsheet containing two columns: The name of each line item (A line item is a budget element that is separately identified) in your ministry's budget and the cost of that line item (according to the calculations you made when translating your dreams into reality). For example, my youth ministry's budget contains the following line items:

- Weekly programs

- Curriculum

Social events


Leadership Development

- Celebrations (Money for gifts for birthdays, adult leaders, etc.)

- Visitation (Money for coffee with students and adult leaders)

- Service events

- High school summer trip

- Junior high summer trip.

As you prepare your executive summary, arrange your line items in a logical way – perhaps in order of importance – and then total the cost of all of your line items in order to depict the total amount of money you're requesting in your ministry's budget.

Once you've compiled your executive summary, use it to craft a longer, more detailed proposal as a separate document. You'll want to include this along with your executive summary for those stakeholders who are more detailed oriented. When such people see the amount of thought you've put into your ministry's budget, their confidence in you (and your stewardship of whatever money they entrust you with) will grow.

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Jen Bradbury on Youth Ministry

Jen serves as the Minister of Youth and Family at Atonement Lutheran Church in Barrington, Illinois. A veteran youth worker, Jen holds an MA in Youth Ministry Leadership from Huntington University. Jen is the author of The Jesus Gap: What Teens Actually Believe about Jesus (The Youth Cartel), The Real Jesus (The Youth Cartel), Unleashing the Hidden Potential of Your Student Leaders (Abingdon), and A Mission That Matters (Abingdon). Her writing has also appeared in YouthWorker Journal, Immerse, and The Christian Century. Jen is also the Assistant Director of Arbor Research Group where she has led many national studies. When not doing ministry or research, she and her husband, Doug, and daughter, Hope, can be found traveling and enjoying life together.

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Jen's Books

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A Mission That Matters: How To Do Short-Term Missions Without Long-Term Harm

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Unleashing the Hidden Potential of your Student Leaders

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The Real Jesus

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The Jesus Gap

What Teens Actually Believe About Jesus

Based on National Research

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