Like many of you, I’m busy working on our Annual Operating Plan and budget for next year. And, if you’re like me, you can’t wait to jump in to the work. But, trust me, the time you spend planning will be worth it! Here’s a couple of things to keep in mind as you do your planning and budgeting for 2016.
- Start with the big picture. Refer to your Strategic Plan and consider what steps you need to take in 2016 to reach your longer-range goals. Then plan for those activities. Don’t just carry over and tweak last year’s plan.
- Give your staff responsibility for proposing their aspects of the work plan, and for proposing the costs for their programs.
- Be conservative on income projections. Make sure you will have the resources you need to follow through on your plans. Prepare alternative scenarios for prospective income so you can think through what you might be able to do if additional money comes in, but don’t include this income or these expenses in your budget.
- Prepare budgets by program area, including operational costs, so you can see the full costs of running each of your programs. Then include project-specific income, and see which programs are covered versus which are subsidized by general support funds. Think about the relative importance of your programs. You don’t want to subsidize programs that aren’t a top priority and core to your overall mission.
Good luck with the planning process, and have fun with it! It is a great opportunity to step back and assess where you are, and to figure out the most strategic path forward. Your staff and money are such precious resources. In order to maximize their impact in 2016, invest time in planning now.
TREC Executive Director