Feature Request - Percent Based Budget for Auxilaries

Discussions around using and interfacing with the Church MLS program.
raklet-p40
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Feature Request - Percent Based Budget for Auxilaries

Postby raklet-p40 » Sun May 31, 2009 8:28 am

Under Finance -> View/Edit Budget, I would like to be able to allot each auxiliary a percent of the budget allocation instead of giving them a fixed amount. My estimation of an annual budget is often far off what actually comes in as paid on a quarterly basis. If I could enter percentages, then all I would have to do is change the budget allocation amount each quarter as the total allowance to date is updated.

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aebrown
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Postby aebrown » Sun May 31, 2009 2:54 pm

raklet wrote:Under Finance -> View/Edit Budget, I would like to be able to allot each auxiliary a percent of the budget allocation instead of giving them a fixed amount. My estimation of an annual budget is often far off what actually comes in as paid on a quarterly basis. If I could enter percentages, then all I would have to do is change the budget allocation amount each quarter as the total allowance to date is updated.


It's an interesting idea. Before I comment on the particular suggestion, I'm curious why you are "often far off" the actual quarterly allocation. No matter how you decide to apportion the budget among the auxiliaries, a closer estimate will be helpful.

  • First of all, are you high or low? If more money comes in than expected, that's a good problem to have. If less comes in, then you have to do belt-tightening, which can be difficult.
  • Have you analyzed why you are high or low? Is it because your estimation technique doesn't match the way the stake allocates funds? Or does the stake change the formula they use? Or do your ward's attendance figures vary unexpectedly (assuming those are used by the stake to calculate your allocation)?
Although I can see why you might want to allocate funds on a percentage basis, I see a couple of drawbacks:

  • You're transferring the uncertainty to auxiliaries. In some cases, that could create problems (e.g., the activities committee planned for half their budget to be spent in the 4th quarter, and a sudden reduction in October might upset their plans)
  • If the budget goes up, various auxiliaries get a windfall. It seems like it would be more prudent to have the bishop carefully consider where the extra funds will be most beneficial.
  • If the budget goes down, all the auxiliaries get hurt. With careful consideration, it may be that a couple of auxiliaries don't really need as much money as was budgeted at the beginning of the year, and can significantly reduce their budget with no pain.

In any case, I would recommend the wiki article Budget Allowance Accounting, which provides some helpful techniques for using a "contingency" Budget subcategory to help smooth ups and downs in allocations.

raklet-p40
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Postby raklet-p40 » Sun May 31, 2009 9:38 pm

My budgets have been off because I only have a year in my position and nobody explained a thing to me about the budget being paid quarterly or even how to read the report that comes out every quarter showing how the budget is paid. I was just told "here is the budget screen, here is how much we allocate for a total budget, and here is what we give each auxiliary". Fortunately, my allocation is low. I had $2600 carry over from last year - which I didn't even know about until I got my first quarterly report a couple of months ago and wondered why there was extra money in the account. I had thought we ran out of budget and was turning auxiliaries away last year.

I can also see that my allocation for this year is low (because I used the number I had been trained to plug in) based on a projection of the two quarters that have already been paid.

I want to change the total allocation, but then all of my auxiliary allocations would have to change as well. I'm feeling lazy and don't want to have to put hard numbers to each of them. Seems to me it would be easier to allocate based on percentage.

The allocation doesn't necessarily have to take place on a quarterly basis. Whether a clerk chooses to make an estimated projection for the entire year or enter actual numbers as each quarter comes in could be left up to the discretion of the ward. The thing I would like to see is the option to allocate by percent. In the end, it works out to the same thing.

In other words, leave everything in MLS exactly the way it is, only add an option to allocate by percent than by hard numbers.

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Postby jdlessley » Sun May 31, 2009 11:15 pm

raklet wrote:My budgets have been off because I only have a year in my position and nobody explained a thing to me about the budget being paid quarterly or even how to read the report that comes out every quarter showing how the budget is paid. I was just told "here is the budget screen, here is how much we allocate for a total budget, and here is what we give each auxiliary".
This is an unfortunate situation. But to make sure you can fulfill and magnify your calling you should contact the stake clerk, or stake clerk for finances if there is one, for training. It is important that you are fully aware of all aspects of your calling and the methods the stake uses in making unit allocations.

I agree with Alan in the difficulties that arise from only using a percentage in determining auxiliary budgets. It may have its place in initial planning but does not take into consideration the general principles and guidelines established in the CHI and outlined in the wiki page Alan referenced as well as the Budget Allocation Methods page of the wiki.

raklet wrote:I had $2600 carry over from last year ...
Normally carrying over budget funds from one year to the next is not permitted except to when the funds are needed for specific activities that are planned for the next year. (See CHI p 159-60) If this was the case then you should have been informed that this was happening and for what activities the funds were being carried over for.

raklet wrote:I want to change the total allocation, but then all of my auxiliary allocations would have to change as well. I'm feeling lazy and don't want to have to put hard numbers to each of them. Seems to me it would be easier to allocate based on percentage.
If the contingency budget category is used as recommended in the wiki article the work you want to avoid is taken care of.
JD Lessley
Have you tried finding your answer on the LDS.org Help Center page or the LDSTech wiki?

raklet-p40
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Postby raklet-p40 » Mon Jun 01, 2009 5:14 am

Thanks all for their comments.

jpjones~ogr
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Postby jpjones~ogr » Sun Jun 07, 2009 1:40 am

I've enjoyed two terms as finance clerk, and three terms as ward clerk, but maybe I haven't learned enough to graduate yet.

These discussion forums are an excellent source for information and understanding.

Though I'm currently the ward clerk, stake explanations of current budget allotment routines are still fuzzy to me. One or two of the wards in our stake have been reported as having significant struggles with finances because of incorrect assumptions. Errors can be made and propogated when the right questions aren't asked. A finance clerk I know had to correct years of confusing postings to some fund accounts, but only after he discovered the right question.

I highly recommend seeking training from the stake, but consider tapping into the knowledge held by other ward finance clerks in your stake.

If I recall some guidance on clerks responsibilities reviewed recently, clerks are encouraged to be independent sources of input and information to the bishopric, and to be knowledgeable regarding clerical rules and procedures. The bishopric has different priorities that consume their time, so clerks are expected to be the ones that know how keep accurate and up to date records, as well as be willing to challenge inappropriate requests.

It can be very challenging to learn clerical functions of wards and stakes. Once you do, you may actually become typecast because bishops and stake presidents understand that they need specially experienced people to fill clerical positions. Every bishop I've worked with didn't understand much of my duties, but they knew I understood them.

I'm still trying to fulfill my clerical calling so I can move on to serving in the Primary.

JJ


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