Where can I find examples of nonprofit budgets?
Nonprofits have different budgets for different needs. Given our focus on foundation grants, most of Candid's budget resources are for proposal budgets. You can also find information here about other budgeting tools, such as organizational operating budgets and cash flow forecasts.
To learn more about taking control of your nonprofit's finances, watch our free video, Seven Lessons Learned from Nonprofit Leaders. The "Fuzzy Math" section includes tips about better bookkeeping and financial transparency.
Proposal project budget
Keep in mind that there's no one-size-fits-all budget for grant proposals. In fact, some grantmakers have their own budget format.
Take a look at our Proposal Budget sample documents. You can use ideas from examples of nonprofit budgets to create the one that's right for you.
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All budgets have two common elements: your estimate of the true costs of the project and your anticipated income to meet those costs. Your expenses will be direct costs -- any personnel and non-personnel costs that you wouldn't have if you didn't have the project -- and indirect or hidden costs, also known as administrative costs or overhead. Your income consists of any grants or contributions plus any earned income earmarked for the project, such as ticket sales or fees for services.
Some different approaches to budgeting
- Income-based budgets first determine how much income you realistically think you can count on and then include expenses that can be covered by that amount.
- Incremental budgets are a percentage increase or decrease of an existing budget.
- Zero-based budgets start at the very beginning, examining priorities and testing all assumptions about where money will come from and how it will be spent.
Remember a budget describes your project in numbers just as your proposal describes it in words. To create an effective budget, make sure you know your project thoroughly. Many funders will look at the budget component of your proposal before they read anything else.
Other basic nonprofit budgets
- Organization-wide Operating Budgets. For small nonprofits with just one program, the proposal budget and organizational budget might be the same. For larger nonprofits, an organization-wide operating budget accounts for everything the nonprofit spends to carry out, evaluate and administer all its programs and activities.
- Capital Budgets. Used for construction and other big, one-time spending projects that often take more than a fiscal year to pay for.
- Cash Flow Budgets (Cash Flow Forecasts). An essential planning schedule that tracks when money is expected to come in and go out.
- Opportunity Budgets. An expansion planning tool that can be used whenever extra funding becomes available.
As you can see, budgeting is a process. Here is a checklist to help you get started.
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Explore resources curated by our staff for this topic:
University of Scranton Online Resource Center
Accounting Considerations for Non-Profits
All organizations have a capital structure. When it comes to accounting considerations for non-profit organizations, it's important to know what separates the accounting practices from those of for-profit entities.
Budget Creation & True Cost Analysis
An in-depth video covering budget creation and analysis.
Budgeting: A Guide for Small Nonprofit Organizations
A free resource provided by the Virginia Society of Certified Public Accountants, this booklet outlines the steps in the budgeting process and includes a sample operating budget for a nonprofit.
Society for Nonprofit Organizations
Create a Budget that Works for You [PDF]
Reproduction of an article from Nonprofit World that discusses how to create a budget.
Free website contains explanations of major topics, quizzes, and Q&As to help people learn and refresh their understanding of basic accounting and bookkeeping. Includes a detailed summary of nonprofit accounting broken down into four parts.
Nonprofit Accounting Basics
A project of the GWSCPA Nonprofit Financial Accountability Task Force, Nonprofit Accounting Basics is a resource designed to help you produce accurate records and reports, encourage and measure accountability, and successfully manage and sustain your nonprofit organization.
Nonprofit Finance Fund
Nonprofit Budgeting Basics
7-part blog series plus an introduction guides nonprofit leaders through the ins and outs of budgeting. Explains why the budget is a roadmap and communication tool, and includes practical starting tips and advice to navigate periods of change or uncertainty.
The Wallace Foundation
StrongNonprofits Budgeting Toolkit
Tool for building a nonprofit organization's budget and listing revenue sources on a programmatic/functional basis, including allocation of personnel and direct and indirect non-personnel expenses. Provides a nonprofit budget template as well as a how-to video for filling out the template.
Nonprofit Works Inc.
Templates, Worksheets, Guides, and Sample Documents
Contains downloadable templates, worksheets, and sample documents for planning, budgets, fund development, communications, and board training.
The Busy Person's Guide to Four Essential Finance Reports
Get accurate and timely information so you know exactly where you stand and what corrections are needed. NOTE: This is an archived version of the original page.
Budgeting and Financial Management for Nonprofit Organizations
The Budget-Building Book for Nonprofits: A Step-by-Step Guide...
Find: Amazon | Free eBook
Streetsmart Financial Basics for Nonprofit Managers
Find: Amazon | Free eBook