Programme budgeting

  • It is important to identify the initial and ongoing operational costs of running a shelter early in the planning process, since it is easy to overlook or underestimate the funds required to establish and maintain the shelter infrastructure and related services.
  • Careful and realistic budgeting will allow organizations to better articulate expenses and access the revenues needed to cover them from the planning and design phase. Budget projections and rationales can also inform and strengthen the shelter’s fundraising efforts.

Budgeting for start-up

Start-up costs are one-time expenses associated with planning, building or purchasing a facility, securing or using the space, and accessing the resources required to initiate shelter operations. Start-up costs may be organized into the following categories:

  • Facility development (renovations, security measures, etc.)
  • Furnishings and equipment
  • Materials and supplies required to plan and initiate shelter operations
  • Staffing and related costs (orientation and training, team-building, etc.)
  • Other expenses and fees (i.e. permits or licences)

The cost of starting up a shelter could vary greatly and depends on:

  • The cost of local resources (e.g. land and property, rental space, labour, etc.)
  • Decisions regarding the facility that will be used for the shelter, including:
    • Purchasing or renting property versus purchasing land and building a new facility;
    • Existing property expenses will vary depending on whether the space needs renovation (and the extent of those renovations) or if it can be used immediately
    • For new facilities, costs will vary depending on the shelter size, the number and types of rooms to be built and the furnishings and equipment that will be included.

See Planning for shelter infrastructure and layout for further budgeting considerations.

Accessing the knowledge and advice of various groups can be important in order to ensure relevant options for facility development are considered and projected costs are as accurate as possible. Other shelter providers may be able to provide relevant information about local facility development options and costs for both the start-up period and ongoing operations. Experts in land purchasing, construction and security should also be consulted.

Sample Shelter Start-up Budget Template

Revenues (funds received)


State contribution or grants




Other grants (foundation, corporation)


Total Start-up Revenues (A)




Expenditures (costs)


Planning and coordination costs:


  • Communications (phone, computer, internet, etc.)


  • Transportation


  • Fundraising plan, documentation, promotional materials




Facility development costs:


  • Facility purchase or rental


  • Land purchase or rental


  • Facility development costs (e.g. cost per square foot)


  • Security installation


  • Exterior yard/garden development




Furnishings and equipment


  • Kitchen furnishings


  • Bedroom furnishings


  • Living space furnishings


  • Office equipment and furniture


  • Computers and security equipment


  • Adult and child recreation


  • Exterior/yard/garden equipment


  • Laundry equipment




Materials and supplies


  • Kitchen supplies


  • Office supplies


  • Recreational supplies


  • Exterior space/yard/garden supplies




Staffing and related costs


  • Hiring/recruitment of staff


  • Staff training/ Orientation




Other expenses and fees


  • Needs assessment/situation analysis fees


  • Construction planning and design fees


  • Security assessment fees


  • Permits and licenses (e.g. land permits)


  • Fundraising


Total Start-up Expenditures (B)




Total Revenues over Expenditures (A – B)

Budgeting for ongoing operation

Operating costs are ongoing expenses associated with maintaining the shelter and providing services. Operating budgets are used to guide spending, typically on an annual basis.

The cost of ongoing operations in a women’s shelter can be organized into five categories:

  • Staffing (salaries and benefits; professional development and related expenses)
  • Programme delivery and materials (e.g. office supplies, programme manuals, tools)
  • Resident care (e.g. food and accommodation supplies, transportation costs)
  • Administration
  • Facility maintenance

Sample Shelter Operating Budget Template




State funding




Other grants (foundation, corporation)


Total Revenues (A)








  • Salaries- Shelter workers/advocates/counsellors


  •   Overnight staff


  •   Cook


  •   Cleaning staff


  •   Shelter Director/Manager


  •   Administrative Assistant


  •   Accountant/Finance personnel


  •   Consultant(s)/External Supervisor(s)


  •   Security


  •   Benefits


  • Staff/volunteer travel, training and development


Staff/Volunteer sub-total




Programme Delivery Materials and Supplies


  • Office supplies


  • Photocopying


  • Programme resource materials/literature/tools


  • Computer software


  • Programme evaluation tools/software


Programme material and supplies sub-total




Resident Care


  • Food


  • Transportation


  • Medical supplies


  • Recreational supplies


  • Children’s toys


Resident Care sub-total




  • Audit fees


  • Insurance


  • Telephones


  • Mail/courier


  • Repair/replacement of office equipment


  • Promotion/advertising


  • Staff/volunteer recruitment


  • Fundraising


  • Computer replacement/repair


Administration Sub-total




Facility Maintenance


  • Rent


  • Repairs and maintenance


  • Repair/replacements of furnishing


Facility Sub-total


Total Expenses (B)




Total Revenues over Expenses (A – B) 



Source: Canadian Network of Women’s Shelters and Transition Houses (2012)