Assignment: Program Budgeting

For this assignment, students should:

1. List 3 to 5 nonprofit organizations where they would like to possibly intern at or work for someday.

2. Review each organization’s profile on GuideStar, especially their IRS Form 990’s; as well as their web site.  On their web site look for evidence of transparency and accountability; as well as look for job, career, employment and/or internship information.

3. Schedule an in-person or on Zoom interview with at least one person that has significant budgeting responsibilities from at least three nonprofit organizations.

4. Conduct all three interviews using the bullet points in #5 below as your interview guide.

5. Reflect and respond to the following questions:


  • For each of the three interviews, provide the:
    • Name, title, and organization of the individuals you interviewed.
    • Date and time of the interview.
    • Each organization’s average gross revenue for three consecutive fiscal years.
    • Each organization’s program efficiency ratios for three consecutive fiscal years.
    • Each organization’s program efficiency ratio trend (i.e., increasing, decreasing, remaining the same)
    • Evaluate the organization’s program efficiency ratio trend.
    • Each organization’s fundraising efficiency ratios for three consecutive fiscal years.
    • Each organization’s fundraising efficiency ratio trend (i.e., increasing, decreasing, remaining the same)
    • Evaluate the organization’s fundraising efficiency ratio trend.
  • When does the organization’s fiscal year start and end annually?
  • How does their budgeting process work?
  • Which budgeting method or budgeting format does the agency use (e.g., program, line-item, performance, zero-based, etc.)?
  • Do they use some form of program budgeting? Why or why not?
  • Do they use program evaluation data to make decisions about program budgeting for future years?
  • Is the organization willing to “lose” money on a program that is making a measurable impact on their mission, as evidenced by their program evaluation data?
  • What does their written budget document look like?
  • What software/technology does the organization use to produce and monitor an annual budget?
  • How do program directors defend the financial resource needs of a program? Which strategies are most effective? Which strategies are least effective?
  • How do they budget for indirect costs?
  • How do budgeting strategies change after strategic planning processes take place?
  • Are they or are they actively working to be in compliance with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002.
  • Request and review a copy of their financial management policies. Do they have a reserve policy? What intrigues you about their financial management policies?
  • What are the most pressing issues facing the agency related to budgeting and/or financial management?
  • If the individual or organization had three wishes for a “Genie in a Bottle” to fix problems in their organization, what would they wish for?
  • If the individuals could provide two to three pieces of advice related to nonprofit budgeting and financial resource management to an emerging professional, what would it be?
  • What opportunities exist to observe or participate in one or more of the following committees: budget, finance, audit, investment, insurance, endowment, fundraising?
  • Do they have student committee positions or student board member positions available?
  • What internship and/or employment opportunities are available?
  • Compare and contrast what you learned about budgeting among the three organizations.

6. Be prepared to present your findings and discuss in class.


Assessment of this assignment will be based on completeness and depth of reflection related to the learning outcomes.

90 – 100 = Exceeds Expectations

80 – 89 = Meets Expectations

70 – 79 = Approaching Expectations

60 – 69 = Some Progress towards Expectations

0 – 59 = Did Not Meet Expectations

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