Applying for grants is a long and challenging task for many reasons. On the one hand, different funding bodies have their rules and requirements. And on the other, these bodies have different priorities from time to time. And because without adequate funding, your non-profit, company, or research can collapse altogether. Therefore, you must ensure your grant proposal is good enough to convince funding bodies to commit to your cause.
In other words, to secure that grant, you need to write a compelling and detailed grant proposal budget for grantmakers to be well informed about your funding request and your plans for the funds if given to you.
Your non-profit’s grant budget should provide adequate information about your project and its associated costs. The committee reviewing your grant proposal will want to see all the details and understand where every penny will go.
Interestingly, you can get this done effortlessly with a grant budget template. And this article will talk about the grant budget template, its importance, how to prepare one, and other related information. Keep reading!
What is a Grant Budget?
A grant or proposal budget is a detailed outline of your proposed project or event. The budget would highlight your proposed plans and associated expenditures for a certain period if the funds were allotted to you by a funding body. In other words, a grant budget covers details like the cost of the proposed program or project so that the funder thoroughly understands what you will use their money for.
Importance of it
As stated earlier, your grant budget should clearly state the details of your proposed project and its cost. In addition, it should cover who will carry out what task, what everyone will do from planning to execution, when the project is scheduled for, and how you plan to carry it out. Once you have done this carefully, you will help both you and the grantmaker understand your plans and set milestones.
In essence, a good grant proposal will put you in a great position to secure the requested funding because you’d have been able to convince the grantmaker that you have a solid plan. Also, if the grant is approved, you’ll have a blueprint to carry out your project and be able to manage your expenses – since you would have already broken that down. Ultimately, you’ll be able to prepare an accurate grant report quicker when your funder eventually needs it.
However, it is crucial to note that a grant budget isn’t the same as your company’s operating budget. A grant budget is strictly for a proposed project, while an operating budget cover expected in-flow and out-flow of funds for the coming year.
Like every kind of corporate planning, specific factors should be considered when drafting a budget for accuracy in planning and a detailed blueprint. Now that you are ready to prepare your grant budget template, here are the key factors to consider:
Determine the needed qualification
First, you need to understand every critical component of your project and the skills required to carry out each bit. So, for every individual you’ll bring on board, you need to know what skills and qualifications they should possess before hiring them.
It would be best to determine whether you want them as full-time employees or independent contractors on your team. You can judge this by the number of work hours they are expected to put in and how long it will take for them to carry out the tasks assigned to them.
Develop a draft of the job description
Once you have determined the required skillset and qualifications needed to carry out specific tasks, the following line of action is to prepare a job description or ad that highlights this information. You want to state the educational qualifications and capture the job details in the job description.
After this, you hand over the details to your company’s human resources unit for them to research hiring costs and projected salary scale for budgeting purposes.
Identify who will be working
Who will be doing what? That is the next question you want to answer in your grant budget. At this stage, you need to explicitly state which personnel is carrying out what task and the projected timeframe for them to complete the task. You should also add information about their pay.
Also, provide information about administrative support for the project because many funders automatically believe that the organization seeking funding should be responsible for its administration costs.
Finally, if you hire consultants to work with you on the project, you should clarify it. You should also provide information about their earnings and what they will be doing.
Know the requirements to support project activities
Another essential piece of information is what you’ll need to carry out your project apart from human capital. For example, you should state the supplies, raw materials, equipment, and other resources needed to carry out the project or program.
Suppose you or any team member will also need to travel during the program. In that case, you should include the necessary information, including who will be traveling, why they will be traveling, and the transportation, accommodation, and feeding costs.
Identify the length of the project
Finally, you should include the project timeline in your grant budget. Ideally, you can break this down into different milestones if it’s a long-term project. And it would help if you had associated costs for each milestone clearly stated.
What to Include in a Grant Budget Template?
The following key components should be incorporated into a grant budget template:
Key personnel salaries
For every project, some key stakeholders determine the success of the project. This key personnel includes those who champion the project (for example, founders and CEOs) and senior team members. So, in your grant budget template, you should highlight these people and their salaries per time (depending on the project’s scope). In addition, you should include their percentage contribution to the project.
Key personnel benefits
Apart from basic pay, if there are other benefits that this personnel can enjoy while working on the project, the cost implication should also be reflected in your grant budget template. Do they get paid time off? Do they get health insurance? You should add all these details and their associated costs for the funder to see. That way, the funder will understand your company’s benefit rate.
Other personnel salaries and benefits
After highlighting the key personnel and their salaries, you should also cover the remaining team members that you don’t consider crucial. In the same vein, you should break down their wages and benefits in detail for the funder. For example, if your administrative staff or personal assistant will be working with you during the project, they should be included in your budget. However, you should do due diligence to know the type of personnel your potential funder will cover. Some funders don’t cover administrative costs, so you should be sure if the company will do that in their respective grant budget templates.
Asides from personnel expenses, a lot of money also goes into operations. So, you want to highlight your operations expenses (OPEX). These expenses include travel costs, supplies, hotel bills, hiring consultants, etc.
Indirect costs return rate
Indirect costs (also known as overhead expenses) include other not usually fixed or recurrent expenses – for example, the cost of rent and general utilities. So, in your budget, you should include the percentage of funds that will cover indirect expenses. This rate will help your funder understand what percentage of the funds will go to direct costs.
For instance, if 30% of the funds cover indirect costs and you’re awarded $100,000, you can plan direct expenses to $70,000.
How to Prepare a Grant Proposal?
At this point, you already know that a grant proposal is a complete representation of how you intend to run a project or program if you get the required funds. Now that you’re ready to prepare your grant proposal, here are the things to do:
Understand the funder’s requirements
Different funders have their preferred styles, formats, and requirements. Some funders will give you the freedom to use your template, while others will provide you with their grant budget templates. If you can use your template for the grant budget, it’s better to let it align with your accounts reporting template for easy reconciliation and reporting in the future. You should also include the following details:
- Specific information to include: Find out the specific information you’re expected to provide by your funder. Depending on the funder, this information may include only the grant you want to apply for, the proposed program or project, or all of your operating budget. If it is not stated what the funder wants, you should contact them for clarification. However, if that is not possible, you can use a program or project budget as your default.
- Expenses and period the grant covers: Similarly, you should find out what expenses qualify for the grant and, if there is a cap on the overhead costs allowed, include them accordingly. If you’re allowed to include overhead costs, you may add about 5% – 10% to cover miscellaneous expenses like internet, website maintenance, etc. You should also clearly state the period the grant will cover – especially if you’ve broken down your project into different milestones.
- The level of details to be provided: Finally, it would be best to determine how much information your funder needs you to provide. For example, if you’re paying salaries from a grant, some grantmakers want a breakdown of who the money goes to, how much they earn, and how much time they’ll spend on the project. In the case of event grants, some funders want detailed information on the number of guests, event venue, and dates.
However, keep your budget straightforward if the funder you’re talking to doesn’t want all these in-depth details.
Work with your teammates to estimate costs
Working on a budget alone can be tricky, especially if you are carrying out a project that requires multiple contributions. So, it would be best to work with your team on what will be needed and their costs. When doing this, ensure the numbers are clear and detailed.
If you have an event, the expenses you can include in your estimate and overall budget include:
- Salaries/payroll for all stakeholders in the program.
- Cost of raw materials/supplies
- Feeding/catering costs
- Event costs for the event venue, décor, music, etc.
- Traveling expenses
- Gifts expenses
Align your budget with your narratives
Usually, you will be expected to provide a grant proposal narrative alongside your grant budget template for better understanding. A grant proposal narrative explains all the details that make up your grant proposal budget and the different expense categories.
Therefore, you should ensure your figures and narratives are in sync. All the details should be clearly stated, and the associated costs should tally. For example, if you provide food to the program guests, you should highlight the cost of food and drinks per head, how many guests will be at the event, and the number of days they will spend. Having all of these details intact will improve the chances of your grant being approved by a funder.
Grant Budget Templates
A lot of time and details go into creating grant budgets. But, to make the process easier and quicker for you, there are online grant budget templates that you can use to do the job. These grant budget templates already have tables, columns, and guidance to make your job easier to turn in your proposal on time. These grant budget templates are available on this website, and they are free to download. You can use them according to your needs.
Tips For Better Budgeting
There are a few tips to keep in mind while making a grant budget template. These tips include the following:
- Obtain the federal and administrative rates: Using the federal and administrative rates is advisable when preparing your budget to be on the safe side of things and be legally compliant. In addition, using the F&A rates for salaries and other overhead costs will show credibility and fairness to your employees and contractors. You can get the necessary information from their official website or from a reliable F&A officer.
- Get estimates for services if you hire someone: If your project requires bringing an independent contractor or consultant on board, then you should get a quote from them for their services and the cost of necessary supplies. In addition, they should provide you with an estimate because they are probably more knowledgeable than you in that aspect. Furthermore, you should explain why they will be part of the proposed project, what they will be doing, and how long their services will be when preparing your grant proposal narrative.
- Find someone to review it: After putting together all the details and figures for your proposed project or program, you should let someone else go over it and check for possible errors. You can find someone on your team who pays good attention to details and has reliable analytical skills to do this for you. You should also ensure your company’s accounts department signs your budget (since they will carry out further checks and enter it into its official budget form).
It would be best to avoid errors in your grant budget template because the funder will have their team go over it once you have submitted it. And mistakes can lead to automatic rejection.
Grant budget proposals will always be part of many companies, especially for non-profits and research organizations. When creating a grant proposal, you must convince your potential funder that you have the capacity and workforce to carry out the proposed project. You also want to show the funder that you have done your task and will put their funds into good use.
By following all the tips and guidelines from this article, you will have a solid grant budget template whenever you decide to create one. You can also download the grant budget templates from this website for your assistance.