Hi everyone. I'm curious whether any of you have found effective ways to tie your budgets to your strategic plans (or another broad organizational initiative)? At Partners In Health, we've tried a few things over the years to show how our budgets are aligned with our strategic goals, but haven't quite gotten anything to stick for more than a year or two. We've tried things like rolling up certain codes to map onto a specific goal, but that raised questions about how to split costs that should be split across multiple goals. That then lead to a bit more modeling, assigning weights to how much something was in service to a specific goal, or if it was truly just overhead, then it was split evenly across the goals or marked as a stand alone overhead category. As a healthcare non-profit, we also tried applying drivers like patient counts (i.e. 25% of our patients are enrolled in a maternal health program, so 25% of shared overhead costs map to our maternal health goals). Eventually, it felt like to do this correctly, we needed to invest a lot of time and coding became quite tedious so we haven't explored it for a bit.Ultimately, we want to know more clearly whether we're putting our resources towards our strategic goals or not, and as a non-profit, we'd also like to use this to inform our fundraising efforts. Does anyone have any success stories or tips to share?
Attempting to bump my own thread after a year as our thinking on this has changed recently. @Truman Tang appreciate your help tagging any others who might have relevant experience.Beyond linking our budgets to Strategic Plan goals, we're now considering whether we could use Vena to get our Clinical and Programmatic teams to create Workplans, which we could then tie directly to our budgets. I've done some initial drafting of some templates, inspired in part by some of the standard Vena OpEx, Workforce and Grant templates.The content below isn't real, but the idea would be able to have a template where non-finance team members can create their workplans and then we'd used the Activity code at far left as a starting point for budgeting.Once the Workplan is set, the idea would be to use the Activity Code (and maybe another dimension or two) to create Rows in an OpEx template where the end user could use Line Item Details to budget the detailed expenses that would be required to complete that activity.
The Workforce Plan would then follow a similar approach.
Then you'd have a Grant Allocation template to split the total costs for each Workplan Activity Code that was budgeted in the OpEx and Workforce templates by various Grants. The "Super Code" off to the right then becomes the code staff submit with their expenses so that we could tie together budget v actual reports.
Ultimately, we've found that there is a disconnect between our clinical/programmatic workplans and our financial and fundraising information, which means that we sometimes aren't aligned on new grant proposals, or we win grants that aren't well aligned with the work our clinical/programmatic teams are performing, which ends up spreading them into other areas and broadens our overall service scope in a potentially unsustainable way since we're now contractually committed to perform the activities of the grant. At the highest level, we'd like to be able to better facilitate a process like the below, and think that a shift to budgeting based on Workplan Activity codes rather than a more traditional Finance approach of GL or expense categories, might better help us achieve that goal.
Has anyone ever pursued budgeting in a "non-finance first mentality" where you built templates specifically designed for non-finance staff? If so, what were your lessons learned? Did this actually prove successful, or did it further complicate the needs of your Finance and Accounting teams to process expenses and report to donors?
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