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Collaborative budgeting is a powerful strategy for businesses, nonprofits, churches, and many other organizations. By empowering your team to take charge of their budgets, you create more organizational transparency, encourage cross-departmental collaboration, and build trust in your team. Bottom-up budgeting can help strengthen both your bottom line and your team as well.

While collaborative budgeting certainly has its strengths, you are likely to encounter unique instances that fall outside the standard budgeting process. Your organization’s general ledger is a tool to get everyone “on the same page,” but it is not set up to account for every possible scenario. In some situations, administrators want the ability to budget deeper than the standard chart of accounts, while in other instances, department heads may need to collaborate and share budgeting costs for a specific project. 

Enter the Special Purpose Worksheet, a flexible budgeting tool that can be adjusted to account for situations that fall outside of standard budgeting line items. 

Benefits Of Using Special Purpose Worksheets

Put simply, a special purpose worksheet (SPW) enables businesses and organizations to create a budget that aligns with a specific objective, while also maintaining the common language of the general ledger. Consider the special purpose worksheet your Swiss Army Knife of budgeting; it’s versatile enough to adapt to almost any budget while offering specialized functions that can bring clarity to budgeting and reporting. 

The flexibility of Martus’ special purpose worksheets offers several advantages for finance teams and department heads: 

Documentation – Special purpose worksheets help to keep a historical record of budgets, enabling new team members to quickly and easily understand how budgets have been allocated in the past.  

Accuracy – Special purpose worksheets don’t just track the budget; they can calculate them, too! This auto-calculation ensures that the numbers are accurate – and, unlike spreadsheets, formulas don’t fail. 

Faster Budgeting – Auto calculation means departments can simply “plug and play”, making it easier for non-accounting team members to quickly and efficiently create, review, and update their budgets.  

Deeper Analysis – Special purpose worksheets make it easier for non-accounting team members to budget, while also ensuring the accounting department can access the information they need to effectively analyze budgets and create accurate fiscal projections. 

Three Ways To Use Special Purpose Worksheets

Let’s look at three common budgeting situations, and see how special purpose worksheets can help streamline the budgeting process for each of them. 

1. Conference Budget
Nearly every business plans to travel to at least one conference each year. Often, staff don’t think about the financial details of a conference, or how those costs are allocated in the business’s budget. This can become even more complicated when attendees are from different departments. 

Asking each department to budget for the same trip complicates the general ledger, but expecting one department to foot the bill for everyone is also unfair. Using a special purpose worksheet, teams can easily budget for specific travel-related expenses, and the finance department can see the cost in real time for accurate budget-to-actuals. 

2. Event Budget 

While many organizations send teams to events, others may host their own. While the general ledger may account for staff and supplies, what should a department do to budget for the many miscellaneous items that are specific to their event?

A special purpose worksheet can account for sub-categories including food, venue rental, giveaways, speaker transportation vs. staff transportation, presentation supplies, and more. For organizations that host multiple events, administrators can create a special purpose worksheet template that departments can use to streamline the budgeting process. Much like a project management checklist, the SPW template creates a simplified workflow that department heads can add to their budget with the click of a button. 

3. Grant Allocation  

Navigating organizational expenses within a grant allocation can be tricky. Most grants come with specific guidelines for use, but may allow a percentage of the grant to be allocated to the overall operating cost of the organization. 

In these instances, a Global Special Purpose Worksheet can distribute a specific cost across multiple departmental budgets to simplify grant allocation! This is especially helpful when budgeting for items such as office equipment, which may be used by all employees but needs to be managed by one person. Using a Global SPW, each department is assigned a portion of the overall cost, which is automatically written into their departmental budget.  

Best Practices When Using Special Purpose Worksheets

Special purpose worksheets are a powerful tool for collaborative budgeting – the possibilities are endless! Here are three tips to help you make the most of special purpose worksheets to help streamline budgeting and reporting for your organization. 

1. Be Precise. Take advantage of the special purpose worksheet’s ability to be highly detailed, and use it accordingly. Don’t be afraid to dive deep into budget line items!

2. Be Consistent. Budgeting shouldn’t happen just once a year. Review and update special purpose worksheets regularly to ensure you’re aware of any unexpected expenses or changes to the budget. 

3. Be Flexible. The beauty of the special purpose worksheet is its ability to adapt! If a worksheet is no longer meeting your budgeting needs, be willing and prepared to adjust it to accommodate new circumstances or expenses. 

Create A Better, Flexible Budget With Special Purpose Worksheets

It’s time to supercharge your organization’s collaborative budget using special purpose worksheets. Martus makes it easy to integrate worksheet templates or global worksheets into your budget with just a few clicks to streamline budgeting. Using special purpose worksheets, you’ll have better insight into your department or organizational budget in a fraction of the time.

Want a deep dive? Schedule a demo today to see Martus’s special purpose worksheets in action.