Effective agencies explicitly link their budget, fiscal and financing work to desired outcomes for children, youth and families. For example, if an outcome goal is reducing children in care, an agency may fund wrap-around services that are hard to fund through traditional federal funding streams or they may invest in early intervention to prevent kids from coming into care. Effective agencies do this through establishing a budget and finance plan that aligns agency resources to the agency’s overall strategic plan.
A budget and finance plan supports the overall strategic plan by providing the answers to a range of questions about how an agency will make its strategic priorities happen through obtaining and judiciously using its resources. It spells out the related work to be done in a way that is comprehensive and concrete, yet still flexible to the unfolding realities of any complex environment.
Constructing such a plan is an excellent way for new leaders with budget and finance responsibility to become fully oriented to the agency and its environment.
Resource limits play a double role in a budget and finance plan. The agency should be both working within their realistic limits and influencing those limits to shift in a positive direction over time. For example, the plan might lay out initiatives within current resource guidelines and also include an initiative to make a better case for increased or reallocated resources over time.
In smaller agencies with a limited finance function, these plans may actually merge into one, whereas in large complex agencies there may be multiple “nested” plans at different levels and within different functions of the overall organization. In either case, senior finance staff should participate at every step of agency strategic planning.
As you read the following, please link to the Budget and Finance Plan, a basic planning template that includes all the sections and questions that an agency should address: