Search form

Tool: Spreadsheets

A spreadsheet is a way to display a budget or the finances of an organization in a way that makes it clear how much money can be and/or has been spent for each line item from each funding source. In its simplest terms, a spreadsheet is a grid with a list of funding sources along its top edge and a list of expense categories running down its left-hand edge, so that each vertical column represents a funding source , and each horizontal row represents an expense category. Where each column and row meet (this meeting place is called a cell), there should be a number representing the amount of money from that particular funding source (the column) that goes to that particular expense category (the row).

While you can make a spreadsheet either by hand or by computer, the advantage to a computer spreadsheet is that it allows you to put formulas in particular cells to total up a column or row, or to otherwise make sure that the number in that cell reflects a change elsewhere. In the spreadsheet below, for instance, each of the cells in the "Totals" row at the bottom automatically adds all the figures in its column, so that if you enter a new number in one of the cells in that column, the total at the bottom will change automatically. The same is true for the cells in the "Totals" column on the right, with the difference that those cells are set up to total their rows. In the "Fringe" row, each cell - except for the "Total" ones - is set to figure 25% of the total salaries in its column, because you already know that fringe benefits are 25% of salary.

Consolidated United Conglomerated Community Health Program

  United Way Department of Health County Raffle Totals
Coordinator Salary 2,000 22,000 5,000 1,000 30,000
Aide Salary 5,000 8,000 4,000 1,500 18,500
Fringe 1,750 7,500 2,250 625 12,125
Rent 750 5,500 2,000 125 8,375
Insurance  0 1,500 0 0 1,500
Office Supplies 500 1,200 275 0 1,975
Program Materials 0 1,300 475 0 1,775
Totals 10,000 47,000 14,000 14,000 74,250

Because the cells change their totals automatically when new figures are introduced , a computer spreadsheet makes it easy to test out different ways of spending money , and to see immediately how much you can afford to spend in particular categories.