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> Integrated Strategies
When it comes to a budget, the common myths are that you have a fixed annual plan and that you “have to make budget” each year. In other words, you have a finite amount of resources that you cannot exceed and that you must either expend or lose.
But for a partnership, the budget — money and other resources — is really about guiding response and delivery.
As the partnership learns through its strategic map where it is headed and what works and what doesn’t, the members must respond. They have to continually shift resources to where they are most needed and can best be used. In a successful partnership, this will be a continuing process, not a once-a-year event.
The partners will also use the budget to deliver greater impact by leveraging opportunities that were not anticipated in creating the strategic map. For example, a funder late on the scene wants to see a certain amount of resources in a particular category to make a grant. Though those monies are needed elsewhere, greater overall results are more likely by shifting them in a new direction.
Or, by putting a certain amount of money on the table, your partnership is able to join with yet another partnership in having greater community impact. The leveraging changes the plans. The changed plans change the strategy—and the partnership regroups around the revised map.
This way of budgeting to respond to changing needs and to deliver greater impact must become integral to the work of the partnership. Equally important, the budget—money and resources—must be controlled by those who are doing the work.
All too often, budgeting authority and resource control rests with the partnership as a whole, and usually with a finance committee or treasurer. But the rule for effective partnership is those who do the work should control the resources. Therefore, every workgroup should be given a budget in advance, as stated in the charter. Each group, of course, has to maintain a proper paper trail for financial oversight and auditing, but otherwise is allowed to expend the resources as it sees fit to achieve the agreed-upon outcomes.
The role then of the finance committee or treasurer is not to control all the resources, but to:
- maintain an overview of all funds received and their sources;
- ensure that all fundraising activities are coordinated so parts of the partnership are not separately applying to the same funders; and
- confirm that the proper financial reporting system is in place so the workgroups can track their growth and audit performance.
In this way, budgeting is not about control. Instead, it becomes yet another means to enhance the effectiveness of the partnership, and sustain the commitment of its members over time.