Ten Simple Steps to Evaluate True Program Costs | Funding for Good

During a recent grant-writing webinar, a participant reached out to Funding For Good to ask how they could possibly determine the true cost of their programming.

When requesting program funds through a grant they simply calculated the program coordinator’s salary and the general cost of program materials. Why was it that the program was always operating in a deficit despite the fact their request was fully funded?

If your organization is currently working to establish reasonable fees for service, or making requests for program support, it is important to consider the following Top Ten Checklist as you work to generate a realistic and comprehensive program/project budget:

1. Personnel Costs
  1. Salary – if it’s a multi-year request, consider all potential pay increases for inflation/bonus purposes
  2. Hourly Wage – determine realistic hours for direct contact hours during program, planning time, community outreach/partnership development, special events, recruitment/screening/training/supervising staff or voluf71daa50-1ba9-46d4-99d0-aecb3537ed5anteers, as well as data tracking and reporting.
2. Fringe costs associated with personnel

Don’t forget to calculate funds required by the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA)

  1. FICA = this 7.65% tax rate is the combined rate for Social Security and Medicare. The Social Security portion (OASDI) is 6.20% on earnings up to the applicable taxable maximum amount (see below). The Medicare portion (HI) is 1.45% on all earnings.
3. Staff development

Will the program staff be required to take special courses or certifications? What are those costs (travel, training, hourly pay)

4. Marketing and PR

What do you need to get the word out about your project? (Flyers, business cards, brochures, registration forms, etc.? How much will design, printing, and mailing/distribution cost?

5. Technology

Will you need phones, radios, online subscriptions?

6. Contractors

Will you ever bring in professionals to help with a program component or perhaps to provide IT support?

7. Transportation/Travel

Will you reimburse staff for travel at the current Federal Reimbursement Rate ($.575/mile in 2015)? Will you rent a vehicle or pay a driver to transport participants?

8. Program materials/equipment

Make a needs list and prioritize!

9. Awards and Recognitions

Do you plan on recognizing volunteers, program participants or community sponsors? How much will those plaques, certificates, or small gifts cost?

10. Cost of space

Rent, utilities, etc should always be accounted for whether you pay fair market value or receive it as an in-kind contribution.

As you start working on program/project budgets, be sure to take this list along and make sure you are thinking of all the ‘actual’ costs as you determine appropriate fees to maintain and grow your organization.