by Jac La Tour

Last week I blogged Billy Burnett’s responses to three budget-related questions to give you a preview of the expertise that resides on the panel for the upcoming budgeting workshop ECCU is presenting at the Christian Leadership Alliance (CLA) National Conference. (How to Build a Better Budget).

Next up is Vonna Laue, audit partner with CapinCrouse LLP.

Jac:     What top three priorities should guide the budgeting process?

Vonna:    First, be realistic, if you budgeted a 6 percent increase in 2011 and contributions were down 5 percent, don’t expect that without significant changes you will have 6 percent growth in 2012. Second, be missional. Your budget should reflect the direction of the ministry by funding strategic initiatives. This requires that you honestly evaluate programs to identify those that may be good but not part of the mission. Finally, be vigilant. Monitor, monitor, monitor and be ready to respond.

Jac:     What are two or three major changes you’ve seen ministries make to their budgeting process and what was the result?

Vonna:    One is budgeting year round instead of it just being a one-time annual event. This results in a deeper analysis and more proactive response than getting to the end of the year and being disappointed. Another change that some ministries are considering is building three budgets. Start with your basic budget, then build two more. One reflects what you will cut if the projected revenue doesn’t come in. The other accounts for how you will expand if excess funds are received. Doing this removes some of the emotion from those decisions when you actually have to make them.

Jac:     How can an attendee prepare to gain the most value from this workshop?

Vonna:    Consider in advance the struggles that you face in your ministry’s budget process and come ready to participate, looking for suggestions to help.

Again, this budgeting workshop will be on Thursday, April 11, from 4:00 to 5:30 p.m.

To register for the CLA conference, visit

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