Understanding custom budgets

Budgets can be standard or custom depending on your program's complexity. Here, you will learn about custom budget setup for complex needs and considerations for managing your own budgets. Typically, custom budgets are set up for large organizations with different programs for employee groups. 

Before you begin

Learn the Budget basics to help you gain a foundational understanding of your budgets.

Custom Tags for employee groups

Custom Tags are used to specify which employee groups a budget is intended for. These tags are essentially Transaction Tags that correspond to fields in the user demographic data. When a user engages in actions like donating, redeeming rewards, or any other activity within Spark, their transactions have associated Transaction Tags. If a budget is linked to one or more Transaction Tags, any user transactions bearing one of those tags are included.

Your budgets should be named so that it is easy to identify which employee groups a budget applies to and the budget hierarchy. To confirm the user groups that apply to a budget, select Edit next to your budget and review the Custom tags.

Typically, you can allocate a budget for each employee group that has its own set of program rules. You can apply specific matching rates, budget amounts and per user amounts for each budget type. These individual program budgets can then be combined into a parent budget that encompasses all employee groups.


If you manage separate budgets for employees in different countries that use the same currency, the custom tag can map to the Country field in the demographic file or HRIS integration. You could have a parent EUR budget to set limits on all EUR spending and have individual budgets for employees in France and Spain. 


Custom budgets can be configured in many different ways, however, it is likely that budgets in the same currency will follow one of these formats: 

  1. Parent All budget 
    • Child Matching budget
    • Additional Matching budgets…                  
    • Child Volunteering budget
    • Additional Volunteering budgets…

In this situation, the All budget covers spending on matching and volunteering rewards, along with corporate transactions. The child budgets are set to establish specific limits for each type of reward and for the user group referenced in custom tags.

  1. Single All budget. 

This is the best practice configuration for a blended rewards program (matching and volunteering). It applies the same Per user amount and matching rate to all employees that transact in a given currency. 

  1. Parent All budget. 
    • Child All budget
    • Additional All budgets…

This is another configuration for a blended rewards program. In this case, individual budgets can be created for different employee groups. They are capped by a parent budget. It is important to note:

  • The parent All budget typically includes corporate transactions and spending for all user groups referenced in the child budgets.
  • The child budgets apply to different user groups and each reference different custom tag(s)

Considerations for budget updates

When managing your budgets, it's important to understand the relationship between them. 

The first thing to keep in mind is that you should avoid overriding the limits set for child budgets with the parent budget limit. Why? Because if you reach the parent budget limit first, the usage of child budgets will come to a halt. In other words, you won't be able to distribute rewards to those who have earned them.

The following rules should be followed when updating amounts:

  • Budget Amounts (Corporate Limit)
    Parent Budget Amount >= Total of all child Budget Amounts 
  • Per User Amounts (Employee rewards cap)
    If you want to offer specific amounts for matching or volunteering rewards, you should only have a Per user amount in the child budgets, not the parent budget. 
  • Make sure that the Budget amount sufficiently covers the Per user amount for all employees who affect the budget and have accepted the terms of use. 

We recommend keeping it simple. With all the information and options employees face, straightforward and accessible programs work best. Complex programs seem appealing but bring challenges that slow progress and reduce engagement.

If you would like to make changes to your budget setup, contact our support team.

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