One of the key parts of a grant proposal is its budget. Some of my students have a little trouble knowing where to begin with it and knowing whether they have done it correctly. I have some ideas for you to make the process a little less intimidating.



First, here are some general rules. Be sure that your budget is:

  • detailed
  • reasonable
  • supported
  • complete

For your budget, more detail is almost always better than less. It shows the funder that you have really thought through the process and are not trying to get money for unclear purposes. If you have constraints on document length, it is fine to collapse some categories provided that you have the detailed breakdown available if the funder asks to see it. For instance, you can have an Office Supplies category with a total in your budget, but make sure that you can produce a document that shows how you arrived at the number, with breakdowns for paper, copier toner, pens, letterhead, etc.

Make sure that your figures are reasonable. Grant proposals reviewers have a good idea of the costs of goods, services, and wages. An experienced reviewer will be able to spot a padded budget and may reject your proposal on that basis alone.

One way to show that your budget is not inflated is by making sure that it is supported. Have multiple estimates for your larger costs and do some research to see what typical costs are for your other items. It is a good idea to keep a record of how you got your figures so that you can produce it if requested. For equipment and supplies, catalogues and websites are good sources for prices.

I also suggest putting some effort into making sure that your budget is complete. One way to do this is initially brainstorm (if you can get some people to help you, that’s better yet). Think of every possible expense. Once you have a list, put it aside. Within the next few hours or days, you’ll remember other items you forgot to add. Append these to your list when you think of them. It is to your benefit to make sure that you budget is complete because if you incur expenses that were not funded, you’ll have to think of some way to pay for them yourself.

Once you have the proper elements for your budget, make sure that it is presented in a conventional layout. You can find this information on the Internet.

The effort that you put into your budget will strengthen your proposal and increase your chances for success.