“It takes money to make money.”
It is beneficial to invest monetarily in our programs when we are seeking to grow and expand our reach. With the beginning of a 4-H membership fee charge in September 2016, we will find ourselves with a new revenue stream. Albeit no doubt different in size from county to county, it is essential that we have a plan for those funds.
“You just had a great fundraiser! What do you plan to do with this money?”
“Well, I don’t like to spend it…I like to save it.”
I hear this a lot. My question to you is…for what? Where or when is this rainy day for which you are saving? Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting anything close to financial irresponsibility. Rather, what I am suggesting is that you have a growth plan in place and that the funds you bring in are a part of this plan.
The refrain we’ve been repeatedly hearing this year is “Grow 4-H.” In looking at budgeting from that lens, a lens of growing and diversifying our membership, there are several things we might consider working into a county 4-H budget plan:
- Transportation. No county vehicle? Don’t wait for county government to hand you the keys to the a van sometime in a future far, far away. Either begin the process of saving for purchase yourself (and possibly find a community organization to match those funds once they are raised) or build into your budget ongoing transportation fees (i.e. vehicle rentals, charter buses, etc.). Bonus points for developing a multiple-year Capital Campaign for this larger expense and making your efforts known throughout the community.
- Event scholarships. We often provide scholarships on a need-based means, but let’s look beyond that for a moment. It’s hard to promote an event without word of mouth, and it’s hard to provide word of mouth when no one in your county has been to an event! When promoting a new program in your county it can be worth the expense to undercut registration costs significantly, making participants more willing to take a chance by attending if the cost is reasonably low for first time attendees.
- Hire staff. If you are shaking your head at me right now, and saying “I don’t have time for this, I only have enough hours in a day,” perhaps your issue is a staffing issue. Have you set aside funds for help? Whether this be a paid-intern, a seasonal person to help with camp (perhaps funded by your camp registrations), or maybe it’s even a part-time person to do fund development work for you such that you can eventually hire an entire 4-H team, your staffing will increase your capacity greatly.
- Professional Development. Tired of having to beg for funds for that conference you REALLY want to go to? Or perhaps you have found a training you’d like to send volunteers to as recognition of their hard work? Better trained faculty, staff, and volunteers = more effective 4-H work = GROWTH.
Of course, this is just a small sample of ideas but the bigger point is- have a plan for how to use funds to improve your work and grow 4-H.
How are you currently spending your money? If you are saving, what are you saving for? I look forward to your responses in the comment section!