(originally printed in The Volunteer Vine, Volume 9, November 2014, page 4)
Are you in that end-of-year reflecting mode, as 2014 comes to a close? Are you taking a look at your projects that you worked on this year? Thinking about what 2015 might hold? Is the plant sale committee already churning out plant labels and projected profits? Let’s take some time to also review the local budget, do a little housekeeping, and get prepared for the spring rush.
First, consider the reasons MGEVs need money. As nonprofit, education-based representatives of UGA, we raise funds for specific, identified items. What sorts of things do MGEVs spend money on?
- Projects. Do you need tools, supplies, and marketing for MGEV-led Extension projects?
- Good will. Does your group make donations to other organizations? Memorials? Are you sponsoring a student scholarship?
- Resources. Do you regularly acquire new reference books for the Help Desk? Is there a training coming up for which local MGEVs attendance should be covered so that volunteers are better equipped for their role?
- Long-term projects. Are you raising funds for a bigger-picture project, something that will take several years, perhaps, to save funds? Make sure the next year’s savings contribution is planned for.
Next, think about ways these expenses and needs can be met. Is there already enough money raised to cover the year’s expenses? Will seeking donations eliminate or reduce the need for cash? Is there a community partner for whom sponsorship would be strategic? If you decide there is a need for cash, outline the plan for raising it and how the funds will be handled (we’ll talk more about this in a future article).
When the expenses and income plans are laid out, typically in the form of a budget, you’ll have a pretty good financial road map for the year. Several good rules of thumb for monies raised in Extension’s name:
- Raise only what you need for specific, identified purposes and projects.
- Spend what you raise in the year that it is raised.
- If there is an undesignated surplus, carry forward no more than half the amount of the annual budget into the next year.
It’s all about sustainability. With a little bit of regular assessment and planning, we can use fundraising and finances to help us move along the path to achieving our project goals.