Starting a budget for an upcoming school year can truly feel like a daunting task. With so many moving parts to consider, its easy to get overwhelmed and psych yourself out. But by breaking the process down into a few basic steps and keeping certain tips and tricks in mind, planning the budget for the school year can be tackled in no time!
This article contains a few basic guidelines to follow plus some helpful tips to consider to make budgeting for the upcoming school year a breeze! Make sure to consider what you need in your PTA management software before making your budget to help make planning easier.
- PTA Checklist: Starting the School Year Off Right
- Maintaining Continuity for Your PTA for the Next School Year
- Back To School Tasks for Your PTA
Use This Free PTA/PTO Budget Template
This copyable template is a simple start to your budgeting process. The template is made in Google Sheets, which is free to use with a Google Account.
- Click here to access the template
- Note the instructions tab for guidance on how to copy it
For Your Consideration: Tips and Tricks To Keep in Mind While Planning
Generally speaking, a budget is an estimation of how much money the club will see come onto their books and leave their books over the course of the school year. Because the events haven’t taken place yet, the best you can do is estimate but you want to be as close to the accurate number as you can get. Which brings us to our first tip…
Review Past Budgets
When looking to fill out a budget for the upcoming school year, the best place to start is actually checking the past budgets. This way, you’ll be able to see how much each event raised, how much went into getting ready for it, and how well the fundraisers performed over time. If you notice that the income from a particular event is steadily declining over time, that might be a good indication that it’s time to reimagine the event or replace it altogether, which could affect the income and expenses line of that particular event.
Ask About Past Successes
If the club is brand new to the school and there are no previous events on record to reference, the club should use the Principal as a resource and ask them about any fundraising efforts and what worked and didn’t work for the community. If the Principal is unsure, the club can always tap surrounding clubs to get a rough idea of what’s worked for them in the past and plan for your community accordingly.
Adapt the Plan to Your Needs
Your budget isn’t a rigid document with no flexibility once it’s filled out. It’s a document that will flow according to the goals of the club and the events that they hold. If the club plans to get new tables for the cafeteria, it’s completely normal to decrease the expenses and raise the income until that goal has been met, and then move on to the club’s next goal. Don’t be afraid to reallocate resources as the year goes on.
Include Everyone in the Plan
A budget is also helpful because it gets everyone, leaders and volunteers alike, on the same page of what the financial expectations are to hold each event. If a chair member is responsible for buying streamers and they see their expense line item for streamers is $300, they know that $300 is the maximum that they can spend on the streamers.
Likewise, if the Booster club sees in the budget that they have to sell at least $8000 in t-shirts at the football game to help them towards buying their tables, they’ll make sure to get as close to or exceed the $8000 in sales as they can before packing up at the end of the game.
Plan for the Next Year
As the budgeting is taking place, the planners need to have a general idea about how much they plan to leave in the club’s account to start the school year off next year. Some clubs don’t leave any money to start the new school year while some will leave an amount to help the club get started for next year. However much your club leaves behind, make sure it’s enough to get the club through the expenses to put on their first event.
Allow for Some Wiggle Room
The club should also consider adding a line to their bylaws stating that small fluctuations, like budgetary adjustments of 10% of the overall budget or less, should be approved automatically to keep the tiny budget adjustments from having to go through a vote.
This of course doesn’t mean that they would go unchecked: the treasurer is responsible for reconciling the budget and submitting it to the proper checks and balances system at the end of every month. Any misplaced receipts can be discussed at that time.
Who Makes the New Budget?
Typically, the club president and the treasurer are the ones who flesh out the budget for the upcoming year. In our how to prepare for the end of the year post FutureFund recommends sitting down with the Principal at the end of the previous school year to go over what they thought worked for the previous year and what they felt needed to be improved upon, so having this list could come in handy as well. If the principal would like to be a part of the budgetary conversation, they should be welcome to attend as the planning is taking place.
The current club president and treasurer might find it helpful to speak with the outgoing president and treasurer. In taking this step, they might be able to get any additional info that wasn’t included in the budget, like any adjustments or ideas they had for the year’s events, that could make line items for the budget more accurate or useful for the clubs goals.
Creating the Budget
As discussed previously in this article, having the past year’s budgets nearby can take some of the guesswork out of the process. There are a few ways to start filling out the budget: you can add items by income, by expense, or by event. For this example, we’ll build the budget starting with the events that we’re expecting to hold for the year.
Add in the Event’s Projected Income and Expenses
In this section, add all of the events that you expect to throw over the course of the year and add the expected income and the expected cost of the materials, information that should be available in the past few years’ budgets. Make sure to include any grants that the school received, major fundraisers, passive income fundraisers, club dues, and anything else that will bring in money for the club during the fiscal year.
An important thing to note when entering your figures into the electronic budget is to enter any amount of money thats coming into the club account as a plain number, and any figure thats going out of the club account in parenthesis. For any new events, feel free to have a club chair or an officer call around to pull some estimations for the event
Add in the Events That the Club Wants To Sponsor
For this budget, there are options to break up the events that the PTO plans to sponsor into subcategories. The categories are fully customizable but they include things like student enrichment, extra school supplies, books, or other items that they’ll need to refresh in the middle of the year.
Adding these items to the budget will allow your club to keep an eye on their progress and let you know when they’re ready to be purchased.
Once the budget has been fully estimated for the school year, look it over and assess whether you’ve allocated enough money to the club’s interests.
Do you think the money that you left for student enrichment will have the reach that you want it to? Will your community impact funding have the intended effect? Did you leave any seed money for the club next year? If not, now is the chance to move some things around and make sure all of the bases are covered.
You should also leave a little wiggle room in the budget just in case some checks bounce (it happens) or in case you’re off on some calculations.
Let the Chairs See the Budget and Vote
Once the president and the treasurer are satisfied with the budget allocations, circulate it to the officers and the chairs for their approval before putting it up for a vote with the rest of the club. Once the budget has been approved, the club is free to move forward with the year’s planning and preparations.
As discussed earlier in this article, the budget isn’t meant to be set in stone now that it’s been approved. It’s meant to be revisited and adjusted to go where the school has the greatest need.