A budget is a plan for managing money. It identifies what income is required to fund planned activity. Budgeting requires thought, debate and decision on what exactly is to be done, when, at what cost, and how funds will be raised and applied.

Our refurbishment project and the later landscaping project between the church and the hall both provide a good model. Think about our working through discussion and debate: considering the designer’s proposals; agreeing what we wanted to achieve and how much we would spend; deciding how to raise the funds; then keeping a tight rein on spending. The same process should apply as we budget annually to support the church’s work in the parish.

November is the time to plan for the calendar year ahead. First, we consider what is to be done; next, we set priorities and debate and agree what is affordable; then, we plan to balance income and expenditure through the year.  Some costs are readily predictable (those which are fixed overheads, for example), but here are two issues that need specific consideration each year …

The first is the need to commit to a rolling programme of maintenance, to ensure that the church continues in its present excellent and welcoming condition, and avoid again reaching a stage when everything needs done at the same time.  Where will wear and tear show?  How quickly?  What role can routine cleaning play?  We should schedule work so that we spend modestly each year, rather than have to find large sums occasionally.  We must consider regular care of the floor, paintwork, windows and furnishings.

The second issue concerns how we will fund our work in the wider community. We are committed to using the building more often than before, for a wider range of activities.  How do we intend to engage and support our parish-wide community?  What are the cost implications for communication, publicity for events, and catering?  What contribution should these events make towards the maintenance of the building?  When should entry be by set-price ticket, and when by voluntary donation?  These questions may not be about numbers – but it is still a key part of budgeting.

If we are to broaden our work in the community, use the building more than before, and maintain it in good condition, then Property Committee, the Kirk Session and the congregation all have a role in determining how efficiently we create and apply our resources.