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The Journey of Grantwriting - Part II

III. Building your Budget and Budget Narrative

  • •It is vital to ask for a specific amount in your grant. General requests such as “We will appreciate any amount of money you can send” and usually you receive nothing.

  • •New Program Activity-When creating an expense budget estimate costs from 3 perspectives: 1) Perspectives, 2) Optimistic and 3) Realistic. Your budget should evolve from the Realistic, and the modifications from areas two and three.

  • •You can research specific costs utilizing the internet, want ads and catalogs.

  • •When drafting your budget details, like the number and the amount of individual items you need, you will clarify each need and show meticulous planning.

  • •Program Volunteers-Usually with volunteers you can count their contribution hours as in-kind hours.

  • • Independent Sector establishes the value of one hour of volunteer time. Find the current rate at their website, make sure you cite your source and utilize the hourly amount to calculate the value of the volunteers your project anticipates.

  • •Make sure you evaluate your draft budget.

  • •Compare your expenses to income and, finally, the cost to the value you will deliver.

  • •Does the budget make sense? Would you buy this? Adjust you budget accordingly.

  • •To begin the process list expenses for the items discussed in your narrative. Example: In your narrative did you mention sending mailings? If so, you will need staff time allocated to create the mailers and printing services and postage expenses.

  • •Avoid catch-all categories like miscellaneous. Should you use this category identify specific items it includes, keep the expenses less then 5% of the total requested. Donors will often ask you to show you direct and indirect expenses. Example: Quick indirect vs. direct test: (Would you incur this expense if the activity did not exist?) If no, then it is a direct expense. If yes, then it is indirect, e.g. the executive director’s salary.

  • •Because grants succeed more often with cost sharing, note the amount your organization will provide for the activity. It should always be an amount greater then zero.

  • •In multi-year applications, demonstrate how your organization will increase it support over time.

  • •Use subtotals, like salaries, supplies and capital expenses, to clarify and simplify the budgets you develop for your donors. On each page, use a header with the time period, organization and contact names.

  • •When submitting multi-year budgets, explain all year to year changes greater then 15%.

  • •Place explanations in footnotes or the budget narrative.

  • •Should your donor provide budget forms, begin your drafts in a spreadsheet program (excel). Design the worksheet to calculate automatically. In almost all grants, you will make numerous adjustments to the budgets before you submit. The spreadsheet format helps you avoid adding the same column multiple times and making math errors. Once you are satisfied with your draft, transfer your budget numbers to the donor’s required forms.

Remember: ➢ When putting together multi-year application? Unless the rules state otherwise, increase your budget by five percent for inflation annually.

Recognition of resources: “Advanced Grant Proposal Writing” Dr. Beverly Browning. “Grant Writing for Dummies, editions 1 & 2” Dr. Beverly Browning © Golden Rule Grant Consultants, LLC

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Stay tuned for article III to add to your current grant writing tool box! To give you a snapshot this segment will introduce you to the following: Search engines, Web sites for RFP’s and the Letter of Intent your first contact to the Funder.