Budgeting for your unit

Create a budget for running your unit, a special project or a strategic plan

A budget is an estimated plan for the money you need for your unit and other guiding activities.

You can base your budget on what you spent in the past year, but you’ll need to include any plans for next year as well. Making a yearly budget will help you plan effectively and be sure you can do everything you want in your unit.

What do you need to cover?

Your budget needs to include all your income – money that’s paid to the unit – and your expenses – the things your unit needs to pay for. When you're drawing up a budget, make sure you think about all your expenses including:

  • Your annual subscription. Your budget must cover 
  • Unit running costs, including materials for activities, badges and badge books, any training fees or new resources.
  • Meeting expenses. This includes things like the rent for your venue, any lighting, heating or utilities bills, extra equipment and your contents and buildings insurance.
  • General expenses. Budget some money for things like postage, stationary, volunteer uniform costs and travel expenses.

What about reserves?

A reserve is an amount of money that you don’t plan to spend. It stays in your account to strengthen your financial position and helps in case of unexpected costs or reduced income.

You should aim to hold a reserve in your account, in case of unplanned costs or if your income isn’t as much as you expected. A good starting point would be to have an amount equal to 3 to 6 months of running costs as your reserves. Do not aim to hold excess amounts of money that you do not plan to spend. If you do not have a reserve, your yearly budget is a great tool for starting to build one.

Plan how you will cover costs

Once you know how much money you need, you can work out where your income needs to come from.

How much will be covered by regular subscriptions from members, and how much will you get from other sources, like fundraising or Gift Aid?  Money that you collect from your membership should be spent on those young members at the time that it’s raised, unless you are saving up for a special project.

Download a simple unit budget for subs (Excel)

Special projects, such as camps or holidays, days out or trips to the pantomime, should be budgeted for separately. This is because not everyone will choose to join these activities This income should be shown separately in your annual accounts.

Download our helpful guidance on budgeting for projects (PDF) for details on how to do this.

Need support?

If you haven’t managed a budget or worked on simple accounts before, you can speak to your  local commissioner or county training team and they’ll be able to arrange some training for you. You should also read the Finance policy.