When there’s not enough money

Whether at home or at an extension center, MU Extension council members, faculty and staff are challenged to balance income with expenses. What are the options, though, when expenses are greater than income? Unfortunately, few options are available, and each one can be challenging.

Doing nothing is an option, at least for a short time. In the meantime, however, financial issues will likely get worse. The longer a council waits to address financial issues, the more difficult they will be and the longer they will take to solve. Doing nothing is the most stressful and least productive option. The action solutions listed below, in no particular order, are better options for a council to consider.

Action solutions

  • Decrease expenses
    Evaluating current expenses is always advisable, but cutting back on delivering the mission of extension may lead to an extension effort that stagnates or shrinks. Cutting back is a short-term strategy that may have significant consequences, including high turnover, low morale and loss of volunteers. Look for ways to decrease expenses that won’t hinder the mission.
  • Dip into savings
    If you have savings, think carefully before allocating them. Once they are gone, replacing them may be very difficult. What if more serious needs arise next year?
  • Increase income
    Devise means of increasing income that are consistent with extension’s mission and address critical educational needs in the county. Consider ways to expand your efforts and work more creatively. These are some possible starting points:
    • County commission
    • Grants
    • Revenue generation – the county has the most to gain financially
    • New programming – must be relevant, reliable and, especially, responsive
    • Contracts for programming
  • Ask for help
    • Gifts – help to fund the extension mission immediately
    • Endowment funds – help to fund the extension mission forever

Director of Donor Education, Cynthia Crawford in cooperation with County Council Coordinator Tony DeLong, 2013.