You and your team have decided to move forward with applying for a certain grant opportunity. Most questions seem pretty typical: “Describe your project.” “Give us a brief overview of your organization as a whole.” and “Please supply us with your mission statement.”
You get down to the financial section and the required attachments that you are to upload before you can submit the final application. You see the request for your budget.
Before you simply upload your internal-use, hundred-line-item, not-even-our-program-managers-use-this budget, consider making this easier for your reviewer and for your use later on once you’re awarded the grant.
1. For your overall/agency budget, simplify the line items to a maximum of 10-15 on both revenue and expense side.
Be kind to the grant reviewers and do not send your multi-page, 8-point font budget. Keep it simple; organize and combine your revenue in like categories, such as contributions, private foundation grants, governmental funding, and special event proceeds. Repeat this process for your expenses- lump together program salaries, administration salaries, benefits, program expenses, building maintenance and utilities, etc.
2. If your organization is large and has a multitude of programs and services, repeat Number 1 for each major program area.
You’re more likely to apply for program-specific grant funding than general operating funding for the entire organization. By supplying both the condensed agency budget you created through Step 1 and a simplified program budget that mimics that format, you’re making it easy for your potential funder to understand your financial position and not get lost in the line items. For these more specialized budgets, you may choose to call out a particular expense if you’re asking your funder to cover that line item specifically. For example, if you’re asking the funder for $5,000 to cover workbooks for your early childhood education program, call that expense out of your overall “program expenses” line.
3. Bottom line- keep it simple and clean.
Put yourself in your funder’s shoes in evaluating your budget. If you would hate to be handed that budget and asked to read through it and comprehend it, then it’s time to combine more line items as it makes sense and clean up that sheet! Check out our example budget below for our made-up organization, Girls Rule!, which hosts an annual summer camp to empower girls ages 6-17 to become leaders.
A note about in-kind goods and services: it’s up to you if you choose to include in-kind in your budget. If your agency relies heavily on in-kind, perhaps you should include it to ensure your potential funders understands your financial position. Whether you choose to include in-kind or not, make sure that you’ve accounted (or not accounted) for it in both revenue and expenses. For example, if you show $10,000 in in-kind services provided by a local attorney, you need to show $10,000 in expenses for the attorney’s services. (Read: your budget needs to balance!)
If you take away nothing else, remember this: keep it simple! Funders will appreciate the easy-to-understand budget and you’ll thank yourself later when you are awarded and have to report back on how you spent the funds compared to the submitted budget. If funders have deeper questions about your financials, they will ask!
Still have questions? Don’t know who to ask in your organization? Reach out to the CSC Team using the links below!