Breaking down your budget for fundraising


One of the great advantages of spending time on creating a detailed budget and cashflow is that it can save you time and effort later on, and can even lead to funding from sources you may not have considered.

What funders want

Most funders will ask you to show that you will be able to administer your project effectively. You will need to show that you have thought about and planned your finances carefully, and that your project is achievable within the budget you have set.

You should try to set a budget where:

  • income matches expenditure
  • you can manage the finances
  • there is a degree of calculated flexibility allowing some room to deal with unexpected changes
  • you can monitor progress easily

You should start your project budget from scratch, based on the costs associated with achieving your aims. Don’t simply work from past costs or experience.

Thinking outside the church box

You don’t always need to apply for funding for the entire project. With detailed information you can pick out costs or groups of costs which fall within the remit of specific funders, perhaps even ones which do not specifically fund churches.

So, when you do your funding searches remember to keep an open mind and look at all potential funders, not just those who specifically mention churches within their description. After all, if a funder wants to give to a food bank... it makes little difference if that food bank is in a church or a town hall.

Phasing / staging your project

With a major buildings project it may make sense both practically and financially to break it down into stages. Talk to your architect about whether your project can be staged, or if there are any areas which you should be fundraising for first.

Staging your project can help you to set realistic fundraising goals, and your success at stage one will give you the impetus to carry on into stage 2 and beyond.

In kind contributions

Although the NCT doesn’t, many funders will accept in kind contributions as part of the match funding for a grant. This could include equipment or materials given for free, or expertise or help given as volunteer time.

You should include any anticipated in kind contributions as part of your income. For equipment of materials allocate the actual cost as if you would have had to purchase the item. For volunteer time, use an accepted form of calculating value (which is an interesting exercise in itself and shows you just how much people put into your church).

Remember that you will need to keep track of this income so ask for a receipt along with donated equipment or materials, and measure volunteer time using timesheets.

NCVO: measuring the economic worth of volunteers

Volunteer Scotland: economic value of volunteers

National Lottery Heritage Fund: volunteering guidance