True Program Costs: Program Budget and Allocation Template and Resource

Date / Time: November 28, 2018 12:00 am

While the long-term goal for nonprofits is not to return profits to shareholders, we all know that nonprofits are business entities that need to maintain financial health and stability in order to achieve their mission. Understanding the true, full cost of delivering various programs and services in the community is a critical piece of the management puzzle.

Why Does This Matter?

Equipped with accurate information about the cost of each program area, nonprofit leaders are better able to plan and manage budgets and make the case for support and for contract terms that cover the full cost of services. One of the most valuable results of understanding the true cost of programs is the ability to make wise choices about how to support mission critical work. For most nonprofits, some programs may be financially self-sustaining or even generate a surplus. Other activities may require periodic or ongoing subsidy from fundraising or other program areas. Deciding whether and how to support these services is a central strategic decision for nonprofits. Knowing the real costs of each program allows us to make informed decisions and choices that will lead to mission and financial success.

Propel Nonprofits Program Budget and Allocation Template and Resource

Propel Nonprofits developed this guide and spreadsheet template to help nonprofits implement program-based budgeting and financial reporting. This resource is an overview of the concepts and management decisions needed to calculate the true costs of activities for a nonprofit and also a how-to guide for the accompanying spreadsheet template. You can find a glossary of terms in our resource library and below, a list of articles and resources for more in-depth discussion or technical guidance on this topic. The accompanying spreadsheet template may be used for a one-time analysis project or to implement ongoing program-based budgeting and financial management practices. While a calculation can be completed for a single program or activity, we highly recommend that these concepts and practices be used throughout a nonprofit. Program-based financial information will be most useful for planning, management, and communications if it is comprehensive, accurate, and used consistently.

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