People creating a grant proposal often mistake the grant proposal budget for the organization’s operating budget.
The operating budget details the expected income and expenses for the upcoming year, including direct and indirect costs. Grant budget ties to the funding project’s cost and the exact time the grant covers.
Since the goal of a grant budget is to accurately outline the project’s benefits, research, and cost, people usually use a budget template to provide the relevant information in a readable format.
The advantage of providing a grant budget is that it usually increases the chances of getting your request approved. Additionally, it’s easier to run your project or business since everything is already detailed.
Finally, by doing a budget report, you’re half done doing an accurate grant report you’ll have to send the funder anyways. To make the job easier, here’s a budget template you can follow when creating a grant budget.
Grant Proposal Budget Template: Things to Know Before Starting
Some people prefer creating their grant budget in an Excel sheet, while others prefer listing the budget and justification in a simple template. While the choice is purely up to you on how you’ll include the program, budget, funds, and other related information, there are required steps you must consider.
The goal of a grant budget is the same as the general grant proposal form; to impress the funder and provide correct information and numbers. If you’re interested in getting the exact templates and processes to put together budgets and proposals that win grants, then check out our grant writing certification course.
Before you start filling out the budget template, you should know how the project and the program will look. In other words, you should have a grant proposal on its way. In that case, you need always to ensure that the information and numbers match across various documents.
You don’t want to note a piece of equipment in one file and leave it in another. Similarly, you don’t want to spend a whole page talking about travel expenses in your grant proposal but not source them at all in your budget template.
In short, it’s vital to ensure the data syncs up across all documents. To make it easier, here are two general elements that need to sync up.
- The story – It might sound silly, but many grant seekers fail because the story they are telling and the budget they seek don’t sync. The budget must indicate the project and vice versa, no matter if you’re running a non-profit organization or a business.
- The numbers – Even more than the story, besides being reasonable, costs must match down to the last percentage across all categories.
Also, always print your budget on a clean page, align the figures, and round them up for easier reading. Yes, the costs must be specific and accurate, but not the sixth decimal.
Lastly, some of the critical headings you need in your budget template are budget category, requested funds, and project total.
The budget category can be personnel, services, or equipment, while subtypes are employee salaries or monthly electric costs. Requested funds are the amount you’re paying per subcategory, while the project total is the overall value.
Grant Proposal Budget Direct Costs
Direct costs are the most vital part since these are the costs you’re mainly asking the grant to produce. These are the costs directly tied to the production of items or services.
Some of the most common direct costs are:
The four categories are where grants fail because the budget isn’t realistic and doesn’t support the requested needs.
A program requiring staff expenses should include the salary under the “Personnel” category. The somewhat frustrating part is providing the accurate salary number. If you decide to “wing it,” you’ll be on your way to a poorly filled-out budget template and failed grant proposal.
You may search for a job salary online or quickly check a similar organization. Usually, trusted websites such as Glassdoor are excellent to start your staff salary and benefits research.
Be sure to list the wage per year, monthly, or per hour. If you list the annual salary for one employee, then do the same for others.
Here you’ll also include possible benefits you’ll need to pay for each employee, such as fringe benefits, medical insurance, and sick leave.
You don’t have to list every fringe benefit. Instead, it’s enough to calculate the percentage, usually either 20% or 25%.
Funders providing grants don’t usually like to see five laptops and three printers listed in the form. Although it’s clear why you need different items, it isn’t for them. A budget template is a perfect opportunity to support your claims with the items’ value to the project.
Furthermore, make it extremely clear why you need a specific item to legitimize the funding cost. Although grant providers can be reluctant, they will rarely argue about the expenses if you have strong arguments.
Like the last section, you need to properly legitimize why you need the supplies in one form or another. Whether using an Excel sheet or the usual paper form, list the expenses and do it either monthly or per year.
Another good idea is to format the supply section into multiple specific categories such as office supplies, production supplies, etc.
By categorizing, it’s easier for the fund provider to find the necessary information. In other words, the chances of getting the grant request approved and getting the funding increase.
Depending on if you’re planning to make business trips or not, you should include trip expenses in your grant budget.
Similar to other elements, funders don’t like to see travel fees. Still, if you provide solid reasons and accurate data, you can legitimize the request and why your organization needs it.
Grant Proposal Indirect Costs
Indirect costs are expenses required for the business to operate but aren’t directly related to a single activity. Indirect costs can include:
To ensure grants cover the cost, check the grant guidelines. For example, a different grant program has different criteria, and while some grants will cover indirect costs for your project, others may not.
You can also communicate with the funder directly, but before including an indirect cost in your budget template, check first. If you don’t, it’s likely to leave a negative impression on your program, and you’ll have to do additional editing.
Grant Proposal Budget Details
While some funders will ask to keep it simple, other funders may ask for a more specific format of your expenses. The main question is how clear you should go?
For example, funders will likely ask for the following information if you need money for staff expenses such as salaries.
- How much time will the employees spend working on your program?
- What will your employees’ annual, monthly, or hourly pay be?
Funders may ask you to describe the necessity and product source if you need money for tools.
Finally, funders may ask to provide dates, locations, event size, and if you need the money to organize events.
The general rule of thumb is only to provide the information that adds additional value. Naturally, this can be subject to each funder, meaning that research and communication are the keys.
Don’t be shy to ask, and don’t be lazy to dig for information. Many board members are open to providing the information, seeing it as positive engagement. If you indicate what you need and, even better, how you plan to achieve it, you’ll increase your chances.
Syncing Up the Budget with the Narrative
Although a neatly filled Excel sheet with accurate costs is the goal, you should never forget the narrative.
Imagine it like writing a novel. The entire story suffers if the characters don’t sync with the plot. You can have a fantastic plot, but it will fall short if the characters don’t support the narrative.
The same goes for the budget and your project’s narrative. Although the topic is money, funders are still human beings looking to fund projects they can understand. If your budget syncs with the project’s story, it’s a sure way to get a green light. Grant writing is a skill you need to master.
One way to ensure everything is in correlation is by checking the budget template after finishing. Go through the project’s narrative, and every time you stumble upon something with a cost attached, check if it reflects in the budget draft.
A simple example is as follows. If your project aims to teach children from underprivileged families English, the budget should list the teacher costs, classroom rental fees, school supplies, etc. What you don’t want is business trip costs for the entire staff.
The intelligent step is to find a professional grant proposal writer to help out. Writers specializing in grants will usually know how to write everything you need.
Finally, keep in mind that you should never limit yourself to a single offer. There are many funding opportunities for different budgets. It’s worth your time to check them out and customize the grant proposal and the budget for each one.
You won’t please everybody, but the more funders you contact, the higher your approval chances. Again, this relates to syncing up your budget with the narrative. It doesn’t matter how specific the funding criteria of each funder are. If your budget aligns with your project, you’re on the right course.
If you are new to grant writing and are looking to break-in, we recommend taking our Grant Writing Certification Course, where you will learn the fundamentals of being a grant writer, how to write proposals that win grants, and how to stand out as a grant writing candidate.