Campaign budgeting is the process of planning for anticipated campaign-related expenses, and the income that can be mobilized to meet those expenses. A well-structured, detailed budget shows which amounts of money are needed at what moments of the campaign – and whether there will be enough of it to implement the strategy as planned.

Budgeting is also a key element of transparent financial management and accountability. Budgeting, combined with rigorous financial control, enhances the efficiency of a campaign, and protects it from potentially damaging allegations of financial mismanagement.

Budgets should be shared among all members of the campaign team or campaign alliance, so that they can plan expenses related to each activity, and hold each other accountable for spending. This is especially critical if campaign monies have been raised from donors, who typically expect proper financial reporting of how their contributions have been used.

Financial contingency planning

If substantial external contributions are needed to run the campaign, at least two versions of the budget should be prepared: one based on the ideal scenario wherein all funding needs would be met, and a second one which shows how to run the campaign “on a shoestring”, i.e. with very limited resources. Another option is to design a modular budget, which distinguishes between “minimal” expenses, i.e. expenses that are absolutely necessary to run the campaign, and “optimal” expenses for additional campaign activities which would enhance chances of reaching the campaign goal.

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