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Non-Profit Toolkit Blog Series 8a - Budget Basics - Building Your Financial Roadmap

We all know the importance of a roadmap on a journey. Financial management is no different. For a non-profit organization, a well-crafted budget serves as your essential financial roadmap, guiding your path towards long-term sustainability.

In the previous blog post of our "Building Your Foundation" series, we explored the importance of financial management and various fundraising strategies. Now, let's delve into the nitty-gritty of budgeting for your non-profit.

Your Budget Template: A Tool for Financial Success

Creating a budget from scratch can feel overwhelming. But fear not! Here, we've provided a basic non-profit budget template to get you started. This template outlines the key income and expense categories you'll need to consider:


  • Donations (Individual):  This includes contributions from individual donors who support your cause.

  • Donations (Foundations):  Many foundations award grants to non-profits aligned with their mission. Factor in potential foundation donations based on your research and grant applications.

  • Grants:  Government grants and grants from private foundations can be a significant source of income. Include confirmed grants and potential grant funding based on applications in progress.

  • Fundraising Events:  Revenue generated from galas, charity auctions, or other fundraising events should be included here. Base your estimates on past events or projected income for upcoming events.

  • Membership Fees:  If your non-profit offers memberships, include the revenue generated from membership dues.

  • Earned Income:  Explore alternative income-generating activities that align with your mission. This could include fees from educational workshops or sales from a social enterprise.

Total Income

Once you've estimated your income from each category, add them together to determine your total projected income.


  • Program Costs:  This includes all expenses directly related to delivering your programs or services. This could include materials, supplies, equipment, or transportation costs specific to your programs.

  • Salaries & Benefits (Program Staff):  Factor in the salaries and benefits of staff directly involved in program delivery.

  • Program-Related Travel:  Include expenses for travel associated with program implementation or service delivery.

  • Administrative Costs:  These are the general operational expenses that keep your organization running smoothly.

  • Rent & Utilities:  Office space rental fees and utility bills.

  • Office Supplies & Technology:  Costs associated with office supplies, equipment, and software.

  • Accounting & Legal Fees:  Professional fees for accounting and legal services.

  • Fundraising Costs:  Here, you'll account for expenses related to fundraising activities.

  • Event Planning & Marketing:  Costs associated with planning and marketing fundraising events.

  • Online Fundraising Platform Fees:  If you utilize online fundraising platforms, factor in any associated fees.

Total Expenses

After totaling all your expense categories, add them together to determine your total projected expenses.

Net Income (Surplus) or Net Loss (Deficit)

Subtract your total expenses from your total income. A positive number indicates a surplus, meaning your projected income exceeds expenses. A negative number indicates a deficit, where your projected expenses are higher than your income.

Using Your Budget for Success

This basic template is a springboard for creating a customized budget for your non-profit. Remember, budgeting is an ongoing process. Regularly review your budget, track your actual income and expenses, and adjust your projections as needed.

By effectively utilizing your budget as a financial management tool, you can allocate

resources strategically, make informed decisions, and ensure your non-profit is well on its

way to achieving long-term financial sustainability.

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