REVIEW ACTUAL COSTS. The first step is to review the actual costs from this year and compare them to the projected budgeted needs. I actually like to have financial information available from the previous three or four Bible schools for comparison. By reviewing the expenses from multiple years I get a clearer picture of year-to-year consistent, increasing, and decreasing costs. Having information from multiple years also helps with projecting for growth.
ASSIGN DONATIONS A DOLLAR AMOUNT. When reviewing expenses keep in mind you may have received donations of supplies, decorations, and snacks that are not reflected in the totals. While you hope to receive similar donations next year it might be risky to assume that you will. As best as possible I assign a dollar figure to donations that are typically received. With this information I either budget funds to make up for any loss from low donation response or make a plan to solicit similar donations.
KEEP GOOD NOTES AND DOCUMENTATION. Numbers are important to a budget, but just as important is the justification for the numbers. For each budget line I include notes that will help me remember how I arrived at the number. The notes will also help anyone else who has to pick up my budget and make sense of it. This information not only helps me justify the budget to the finance committee, but is a tremendous help when I start preparing the budget for the next year.
BUDGET FOR LAST MINUTE OPPORTUNITIES. For me inspiration tends to comes at the last minute - long after the budget has been finalized. I like to create a budget line for last minute fun ideas and opportunities. This makes sure I have a few dollars for those unexpected opportunities (promotional items, decorations, appreciation gifts) that come up at the last minute.
WORK WITH OTHER MINISTRIES. This is also a good time to work with leaders of other ministries to determine which expenses might be shared. The music or worship ministry might be able to share some of the costs for stage sets and props. The hospitality ministry might be able to share or cover the expense of paper goods used for snacks. The evangelism or outreach ministry might be able to share a portion of the expenses for continued connections (follow-up) activities.
BUDGET FOR TOTALL VBS EXPERIENCE. Obviously your budget needs to cover the expenses of the week, but don't forget about pre-event and post-event expenses. Publicity, early registration events, worker training, VBS celebration (Family Night), and continued connection plans need to be funded as well.