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Financial Planning in NGOs: Budgeting


  • Dates: Enrolments open - Sept 2016

  • Format: Blended

  • Teacher(s): Enrique A. Castro & Olga Ovsyannikova

2010 - present

2010 - present

      Course Overview


Budgets are used from the initial stage of the project cycle for planning revenues and expenses and throughout the entire cycle, for monitoring, evaluating and analysing changes. In NGOs, budget is submitted to donors to obtain funding for the projects and to communicate about the performance of a project or of the entire organization. This course covers the basics of financial planning in NGOs and explains budgeting process in simple terms for people with little exposure to accounting and finance. You will learn to create and understand budgets in NGOs, and to use budget as an active management tool. The hands-on approach based on case studies ensures that the developed skills are applicable to real-life situations.

      Course Objectives


Upon completion of the course the students will:  
- Understand what is budget and why they are used in project management; 

- Understand the main budget concepts and the difference between budget and cash flow;

- Develop skills to analyse the main budget categories and estimate their value;

- Understand the meaning and importance of “buffers” and when and how to use them;

- Learn about cost drivers and the link with the budgeting;

- Learn how to organise data in the spread sheet and put controls in place;

- Learn how to use and analyse budgets and explain variances between budget and actuals;

- Understand why saving too much is almost as bad as spending too much;

- Learn to use the budget as an active management tool;

- Be prepared to take more advanced courses on Finance.


Enrique A. Castro: 

He is a Finance professional with more than 7 years of experience in both the corporate and NGO sectors. Enrique holds a Master in International Business degree from the University of Jean Moulin in Lyon (France). He was a Financial coordinator at Médecins Sans Frontières, both at the field (Haiti, 2010) and at the Headquarters (Czech Republic, 2013 & Switzerland, 2015). 

Olga Ovsyannikova:

Olga has 11 years of professional experience in Management Accounting, Financial management and Strategic planning. Olga holds a Master of Professional Accounting degree from the University of Technology Sydney, Australia and a Bachelor of Economics with Honours from the Far Eastern State University, Russia.



      Course Content


Module 1: What is budget? Its types and uses 

Module 2. Simple budgeting concepts: CAPEX, Budget and Cash flow

Module 3-4. Practical development of the budget: - Main Budget Categories; - Activities and Cost Drivers; - Organising the spread sheet – development of a template; - Putting numbers against the categories – techniques and estimations; - Controls in place.

Module 5. Record keeping for actuals and variance analysis

Module 6: Presentation techniques: delivering precise information

      Course Methodology


This online blended course comprises of reading materials, video-lectures and practical exercises to ensure practicality of the knowledge acquired.  Case studies throughout the course are used to ensure the hands-on approach and development of practical skills. Budgeting guidelines, tips and templates are provided to the students for usage in their workplace.

Upon successful completion of the course, the student will receive a certificate with a unique ID number. The certificate can then be verified by an employer by email enquiry on TRAASS’s website.


Time required for completion solely depends on the student. However, we recommend allocating at least 4-5 hours for every module.


Basic knowledge of MS Excel or other spreadsheet programs. Very basic knowledge of accounting terminology.

      Target Audience


- Employees of humanitarian organisations who need to work with budgets or plan projects (field coordinators, admin/financial support, etc.); 

- Management of NGOs;

- Founders of humanitarian organisations/charity projects, who need to plan the financial side of their projects;

- Project managers and other NGO staff interested in financial planning and project budgeting.



Reading and studying materials are provided. Students are encouraged to use the forum or chat to share knowledge and ideas. Also, students can contact the course coordinator via e-mail or post their questions on the forum. The course coordinator will reply to any queries within a reasonable time.


The course materials and video lectures are in English, but can also be offered in Spanish and French if requested.

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