We use a framework called beyond budgeting to determine how our money is used. You won’t find a traditional “budget” here.
Traditional Approaches to Budgeting
Traditionally, nonprofit organizations set a yearly budget that is then approved by the board. This budget includes expected revenue (money coming in) from donations, grants, events, etc. and expenses (money going out) by type of purchase like salaries, supplies, and food. Often budgets are used to determine how much money each department will get and then that amount of money is set for the whole year.
This traditional approach is misaligned with many of our principles
It is not community-led because the final decision of what we spend money on is centralized in the board
It does not embrace emergence because decisions are made once a year instead of as things change
It is not courageous because it limits our imagination when it comes to how we can mobilize resources
Beyond Budgeting Instead
We use a framework called beyond budgeting instead.
Instead of centralized decision-making, have a process for people and circles to propose and make their own purchases in collaboration with the full team
Instead of deciding what to spend money on once a year, make it possible to purchase things as the need comes up
Instead of limiting our revenue and expenses to what we think is possible, set and pursue high goals
Transparency in how much money is in our bank account, where our money is coming from, and where our money is going
- See our Open Collective page where we’re making all of our financial transactions public.
A clear decision-making process so that people can steward finances emergently but with clear boundaries
Forecasts of what we think our revenue and expenses may look like on a rolling basis (for example, for the next thirteen months) and being as realistic as possible even if we don’t like what we’re seeing
Ambitious targets that inspire us as a movement to mobilize the resources necessary
Read more about Beyond Budgeting on Corporate Finance Institute.
Make decisions according to our Governance and Decision Making practices
Follow these principles (simplified from our mission and values statements)
- Is it equitable?
- Is it ethical and legal?
Are you being resourceful?
- Examples: practice mutual aid by cooperating with other organizations that may have resources to share like free or sliding scale fee space rentals, ask for donations, apply for grants, seek in-kind donations of materials and food
- Are you caring for yourself?
Are you caring for the collective?
- Examples: pizza may be cheaper but we will order food that is nutritious and that meets people’s dietary needs or do a potluck to be caring
Contribute to our grand strategy: Weave Community, Develop Leaders, Advocate for Youth Decision Making Power, Make Information Accessible, Mobilize Resources
Exercise sound judgment: Ask, “Is this the right thing to do? What is good enough? How much value is this creating? Is this within our framework?”
Keep these boundaries via transparency and accountability
Going Even Further
We’re not done building our budgeting process yet! We aspire to go even further. We especially want to implement participatory budgeting in a more organized way for when our coalition grows larger.
- Participatory Budgeting for Organizations
- Let’s talk mutual aid by Regal De Loggans
- The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex edited by Incite!
- What is a solidarity economy? By Cooperation Humboldt, shared by Deborah Cooper