Monday, April 21, 2008

The Importance of Budget in Grant Development

I know - I usually go on and on about how the money should not drive your vision, and how you should develop you vision and your plan first, and then work on finding funding. All of that is still true (and I will probably go on and on about it even more in the future!). However, there is a time when the budget is a critical part of the grant development process.

On the grant I am working on right now - the one that is due in less than 48 hours - that time would be NOW.

I have worked with my client on the vision and the plan development. We have talked about all the different components of the program and what they want to do, but what they actually can do, and how many individuals they can serve, depends on how much money they will have and how they will choose to use it. Until those decisions are made, my writing project is dead in the water.

So I wait.

Wouldn't it be great if we could implement a million dollar program with $200,000? Yeah, that would be great. But we can't, so we are forced to make the hard decisions.

Here's the opportunity cost of waiting until the last minute (i.e., the day before the grant is due) to finalize those difficult budget decisions:

1) The final program design in the narrative cannot be written (or it will have to undergo major revisions) until the budget is finalized. This means that -

2) There will be a last minute rush to double-check all the facts and figures to make sure the budget matches the narrative. This means that -

3) There will likely be more errors than usual in the final proposal because rushing through something at the last minute is not the way to do your best work.


4) Our proofing and editing time is now cut down by every hour that we are delayed at this point. I have lost the chance to put it down and come back for a review 24 hours later. We'll probably be doing final proofing and editing on the due date, which is never the best case scenario.

How can this scenario be prevented? Move budget development up in the prioritization process. Ideally, the budget should be completed after the vision and program development process and before the narrative is written.

O.K., there are usually glitches in the grant development process and it's not unusual for all the pieces to come together at the last minute (or close to it). I just feel better when the budget is done a bit sooner.

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Creative Resources and Research is a consulting firm specializing in grant writing, grant seeking, program evaluation and professional development training. We have worked with hundreds of clients including public and private schools, school districts, universities, non-profit organizations, and social service agencies throughout California, securing over $155 million from federal, state and private foundation funding sources over the past decade. Our primary grant writers and program evaluators have over 50 years of combined experience in the education and social services fields. At CRR we prefer a personal approach to the clients we work with; by developing long term relationships, we are better suited to match client’s needs with available funding sources. We provide a variety of services to help assist you, including grant writing, evaluation consulting, professional development opportunities, and workshops.