Focusing on the budget, how much will this cost?

Published 10:29am Monday, January 30, 2012

In the last article we shared the steps for developing the seventh step of the proposal process – the organizational information of the narrative. In this article we will continue to talk about the steps for writing a successful grant, but focusing on the budget.
You want to make sure to spend a lot of time on the budget section of the grant proposal. Many organizations and grant writers, including me, have been eliminated because of careless mistakes in the budget.
Common mistakes are: not having multiple people proof or check the math long hand, not considering all the expenses and shortchanging the organization and making the spreadsheet to complicated to follow.
Remember many foundation directors, their committee and board members are trained to read financials and budgets.  They can usually spot differences within financials or budgets very quickly.
As we have mentioned in early articles, foundations are now seeing a large increase in proposals and have to have some way to narrow the funding field, and a poorly created budget is a great place to start.
The first question to answer with the budget is how much will this proposal cost? Start with a short budget that list income and expenses. Income listed in the budget should include contributed income such as donations, committed funds from other foundations, in-kind contributions (volunteer time, supply donations, advertising, use of a building or room) and earned income. Expenses listed in the budget should include personnel, fringe benefits, travel, equipment, direct project expenses, supplies and administrative or overhead expenses.
I know a lot of you are reading this and saying to yourself, but foundations don’t fund personnel, administrative or overhead costs. All the same you need to list them if not to show the foundation, but to give you and your organization a complete picture if additional non-restricted monies are needed to be raised before the project can be sustainable and successful.
The next step is to present the budget in a consistent and professional fashion. Make sure you print the budget on a new page (by itself). Ensure that the figures are aligned properly. Again, I cannot stress this enough – double and triple check the figures in the budget.  Include headings, preferably in bold type, for all columns. Examples of headings: pending funding, committed funds, local contributions, individual donations, budget type and project total.
Have at least three volunteers or staff members look at the budget to make sure it is easy to read and understand before submitting the grant.
The next article will continue the steps for writing the grant, focusing on the final step of the grant – putting it all together.

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