Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Gift of Giving

The news from the Philippines is heartbreaking and bound to get worse over the next few days as officials and volunteers gather to assess the full damage.  I have seen the aftermath of a tornado and realize that that damage was nothing in comparison.

Disasters bring out the giving spirit in people and business, but why does it take a disaster for that to happen?  Giving money, goods or your time is always appreciated by someone else and lets us feel good about ourselves.

My sister-in-law didn't know what to do with herself when she retired.  She tried a couple different part time jobs but they didn't last long.  One day she sent a post that she was volunteering at the local animal shelter, bringing home cats to foster them over the week-ends and posting pictures of dogs trying to find new homes for them.

One of my clients, a small women-owned business, has had several obstacles to overcome in both their personal lives and in the business.  Nevertheless, they signed up to adopt a family for Christmas as they do every year.  All of their staff participate in this and other charitable programs.

The "return on investment" from giving to others can't always be measured in definitive terms but the act of selflessness is always returned in some manner.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Budgeting for the new year

I am knee deep in creating  budgets for one of my clients.  It always amazes me that the less money a government entity gives you, the more hoops there are to jump through.  When I worked on a $400 million dollar budget, there was plenty of wriggle room, but in a $260,000 budget, not so much.

Where to start?  First step is to lay out the programs/services the money requires you to provide and determine how you meet the requirements.  Is it just a matter of assigning a task to a staff member or will you need to identify a dedicated position?  If you need a dedicated position, how many hours a week and at what cost per hour?  Will the individual qualify for benefits?  Which ones?  What supplies, equipment, physical space is needed?

In most cases, you will end up apportioning the funds over more than one position.  Once you have done that for each requirement, go back to see which full time employees positions have not been fully funded.  Of the remaining funds, which are best applied to each position?  Still have money remaining? - which of your part time staff or contract positions still need funding?

If there is any money left over, you will need to cover the fixed expenses - rent, heat, lights, insurance.  The leftovers, if there are any, go to supplies, equipment and other miscellaneous expenses.

If it is a federal grant, take out the indirect cost first so you don't forget it.  Nothing worse than allocating all the money and then realizing you have to start all over again because of that pesky indirect cost.