Operating Budget

Part of The Congregational Handbook

Calipers holding a stack of coins laying on a spreadsheet

Your operating budget helps your congregation live its mission in the world. How you allocate your resources reflects your values and goals.

The budget also provides a document that you can use throughout the church year to track your actual income and expenditures and compare the actual numbers to your expectations.

Balanced Budgets

Budgeting is an art more than a science. It’s the best guess of how much things are going to cost in the upcoming year, based on history and estimates. Budgeting also creates some tension between the visionary and the practical. Congregations sometimes require balanced budgets in hopes that such policies will rein in overspending. But requiring balanced budgets can also increase anxiety during times of transition where a new ministry initiative might be quashed due to lack of sure income.

Mission-Based Budgets

Many UU congregations have moved to "mission-based," "values-based" or other purposed-based ways of understanding congregational budgets in their communications to the membership. It's a way of understanding how a congregation uses its assets and resources to serve its mission that makes sense to the members who care about how the congregation is serving its mission. More on mission-based budgets….

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