Budget Presentation 101 and Beyond

Considering that your budget presentation is an opportunity both to improve your audience’s understanding of library operations and to achieve passage of your funding request, a well-designed presentation is well worth the work!

Let’s assume that you will be presenting your budget request in person and have decided to do so via a handout and a PowerPoint presentation.  Here are suggestions for a basic presentation, then how to “rise above” that level for a more powerful presentation. There is also a PowerPoint template showing, slide-by-slide, how to structure your presentation to maximize your audience’s understanding and support.

At a minimum, your budget presentation should…

  • Start (both the hand-out and the Power Point) with the Library’s Mission Statement, to remind your audience of the library’s purpose and role in the community.
  • Provide your detailed budget in a hand-out spreadsheet.  For each revenue and expenditure, show
    • Current Budget
    • Current Year’s Projected (or Actual, if the entire year’s transactions are already known) revenue and expenses.
    • Next Year’s Budget (the one you’re submitting for funding)
    • Then, two columns for “Change in $$” and “Change as a %.”  There is some variation in how this is done, but it is recommend that you compare Next Year’s Budget to Current Year’s Projected, as this is more current than the budget created a year ago.
  • Then, you will need some analysis of these figures.  The most basic way to do this is to group revenue and expenditure accounts, such as Personnel (salaries, wages, benefits), Materials/ Programming (books, periodicals, speaker fees), etc.  Then discuss your budget rationale for each group, for example, “Health insurance premiums increased 14%, but we plan to reduce hours and freeze wages so we can hold Personnel costs steady for next year.”

Following these steps would constitute a bare minimum presentation.  This may be sufficient but it can waste an opportunity to showcase your achievements or garner support for your challenges!

Let’s expand our presentation –so that it stimulates the response we seek – better understanding and stronger support. 

To start on this path, carefully determine one or two key messages you would like to convey to your audience related to this budget .  For example, you may wish to show how the community has increased its demand and response to Library programming.  Or, you may wish to convey that limited funding has left you with stale collections that are of diminishing value to the community. 

  • Your library can’t do everything for everyone, and your funding authority has multiple demands on it, as well.  Focusing your presentation on a couple of issues can make it possible to reach a consensus on what is most important in your budget request. 

Next, you’ll need to decide how to get those messages across to your audience. 

  • The message, itself, will determine to a large degree the best way you can justify support for your goal. 
    • For the first message, above, you could:
      • show increases in numbers of programs offered per capita and numbers of attendees, both for just your library over some period of time
      • compare your library’s programs (numbers or, perhaps, variety)and cost per capita  to those of similar libraries. 
      • Finally, you would show exactly how your proposed budget will enable you to improve this service (e.g., another weekly story hour costs $1,000/yr).
    • For the second message, above, you could
      • compare your collections (size, age) to those of similar libraries or accepted standards
      • compare materials expenditures and annual circulation per capita, either to those of similar libraries or  for just your library over a period of time (or both!). 
      • Finally, you would show (again) exactly how your proposed budget will enable you to make the improvements you seek (e.g., 3-year plan to update geography reference materials at $5,000/yr).
    • See the Using Comparative Data and the Graphs to Tell the Story sections of this website for more ideas.
  • Consider a brief handout that gives a snapshot of your library for the past year. This handout is a good take-away for your audience to be able to think about what the library has accomplished in the past year in a succinct format.
  • As you think about how best to convey your message, remember your audience.  Consider how much time will you have, how comfortable they may be with numbers/charts/graphs, whether they are likely to be overwhelmed if you provide too much data or suspicious if you provide not enough, etc.  In general, limit the number of PowerPoint slides, and keep each one “short and sweet.”
  • Note that the beauty of this “message” approach is that your presentations will offer a fresh perspective from year to year as your messages change, enabling you to build over time a fuller understanding within your audience of the library’s services and needs.

Finally, remember to maintain an upbeat, “can do” attitude throughout your presentation.  Keep in mind the Mission Statement and the community you serve.  If presentation is done at a public meeting, you should have encouraged Friends, etc. to attend to demonstrate support for the Library’s service to the community.  Whatever response you get from your funding authority, be sure to thank them for their attention.  (See more tips in the Decision-Maker Speaks section of this website link needed.)

Follow this link to the PowerPoint Budget Presentation to view a template for structuring your budget presentation.

Qualities of a Successful Budget Presentation

Budget Presentations Homepage