by Mandy Pearce
Each grant application will have a unique set of grant guidelines.
The budget will be one of the items addressed in the guidelines. Some donors will want you to use a standardized budget template, which they will provide for you, and others will want you to create a simple budget yourself. Reading the grant guidelines carefully will clarify budget expectations.
If you are completing an online application you may have a form to fill out, or you may need to upload a budget template (provided or created) into the online system. Again, reading through the application online beforehand will save you time and energy as you prepare your budget.
When a budget form is provided, the line items may or may not align with the ones you have created. You will need to rework your line items to fit into the categories provided. Often times there is a line labeled “Other”. This line will contain anything that does not neatly fit into one of the other categories. Make sure you remember how you ‘reallocated’ your line items and what all you have included on each line. I often find it helpful to create a detailed budget that not only lists the line item category but also a detailed breakdown of costs. For example, a $1,000 line item for marketing might include the following: $200 for postage, $500 for print and design of promotional materials, and $300 for advertising and public relations costs. I always file a copy of this detailed budget for future reference.
A well prepared budget justifies all expenses and is consistent with the project description. Basic components and parameters to consider when creating a budget are:
- Duration (what period of time will the budget cover)
- How much are you asking the donor to support
- Level and resource commitment from your organization (dollar amounts, space, staff, etc.)
- Number, identity and level of commitment of collaborating organizations
- Detail commitments of partners
- Keep it simple but be specific
- Create reasonable forecasts (if costs are projected for future projects, make sure the estimates are reasonable and consider potential factors that could increase or decrease those costs)
Be consistent with your budget, even if you submit numerous proposals.