How to Develop a Budget for Your Grant Proposal

Developing a budget for your grant proposal is an important part of the grant application process. It can be intimidating, but it’s doable provided you strive to be accurate and complete. Simply work through it step by step until it’s completed.

The agency providing the grant will require that the budget be based on a ‘good faith estimate’ of all the expected costs. All this really means is that you’re not intentionally providing false or misleading information. It also means that your numbers need to be based on something other than your best guess.

Research what your budget items actually cost.

There are several budget categories that are commonly used, though some agencies will supply a specific budget form. These are some of the main expenditures you’ll be including in your grant proposal budget.

Direct Costs

1. Personnel. This includes all salaries and benefits such as vacation, insurance, sick pay, and more. Ensure your salary predictions are accurate. You’ll be in a tough spot if you plan on a particular salary of $20k, but the going rate for that position is $70k!

2. Printing / Copying. This is the cost of having an outside source provide these services.

3. Postage. Calculate the expected cost of all bulk and first class mail.

4. Travel. This is domestic travel. Travel expenses, including expected costs for hotel, food, and transportation, need to be itemized. Tips and parking are also part of this category. Be reasonable in your estimates and don’t round your figures too much; $1,280 looks better than $1,500.

5. Foreign Travel. This is usually set up as a separate category from your domestic travel. Itemize your expenses the same way as in the previous category, but only estimate travel out of the country. Again, avoid rounding your figures too much.

6. Equipment. This must also be itemized. Be sure that the grant allows the purchase of equipment; some do not. Rental of equipment might be allowed. Maintenance costs might be allowed.

* This category is heavily scrutinized. Make it clear in the application why the equipment is needed and what it will be used for. Support your cost predictions with real data.

7. Professional Services: This will be for costs related to consultants, accountants, lawyers, and other professional services.

Indirect Costs

Indirect costs are the overhead costs related to the facilities that will be used.

1. Building Costs. Includes rent, purchase, or construction costs.

2. Insurance. This includes all types of insurance for your facilities, such as liability and flood insurance.

3. Utilities. Include expected costs for all utilities, including electric or gas, water, trash, and Internet service.

There are many other categories, but this gets your thinking headed in the right direction. The specific grant for which you are applying will have all the details you need. Be sure to follow their format. This is not the time to strike new ground; follow the requirements perfectly.

A good first step is to consider all the people, materials, equipment, and other costs that will be required for your proposal to be successful. Simply work your way through all the categories required by the grant application. It can really help to have someone with experience look over your budget before you submit it. Experience is useful in this case.

A grant budget can be a large undertaking, but it’s really no different than your home budget. There are more items to consider, and you’ll probably have to do some research to find accurate numbers, but other than that, it’s the same concept.

Be accurate, complete, and organized, and that grant can be yours!

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