Part One of this article covered Financial Statements and the four components (Statement of Financial Position, Statement of Activities, Statement of Functional Expenses, and Statement of Cash Flows). Next, we will cover budgets and other common financial attachments. Remember, these attachments tell your organization’s story just as much as the words in your narrative, so invest adequate time in preparing these files.
Did you know that budgets and financial documents are often the first things a grant reviewer will read when considering an organization’s proposal? Sometimes grant professionals leave attachments and budgets for the end, perhaps because these documents can be confusing or intimidating to those of us without an accounting background. This two-part guide will help you correctly identify which attachment the funder is requesting and explain why it is helpful for the funder to have the information contained in each document.
Partnerships can be a powerful tool in communities when they are designed to support everyone involved. Much like making a homemade pie, it takes preparation, time, and trust in the process. Here are some tips and considerations when designing partnerships to make sure everyone has a slice of the pie.
If your organization or program works with volunteers, you know firsthand that these individuals are often invaluable assets in delivering your mission. While volunteer management professionals know how to communicate the intrinsic value of these services to the community and the volunteers who provide them, we have to ask ourselves…. are we as grant professionals properly communicating their monetary value to current and potential grant funders? As we continue to celebrate National Volunteer Month, let’s explore ways to express the value of volunteer contributions. This will help you to present accurate and comprehensive grant budgets that fully express the extent of your organization’s in-kind commitment.
We live in a world where, as consumers, we can purchase literally anything with a quick search and a few clicks. The rise of online shopping and next-day delivery has made it easier than ever to go on a shopping splurge without seriously weighing the costs and benefits of the newest gadget or the impact it will have on our personal finances.
When a grant is awarded to an organization, the program staff may enthusiastically load up their online shopping carts with everything outlined in the grant budget. There is certainly a time and place for efficient procurement of approved supplies and services. In fact, federal law requires grantees minimize the time elapsing between the receipt of grant funds and the payment for allowable expenditures (2 CFR 200.305(b)). It is important for program staff to quickly implement the grant award, and typically, this means doing a little shopping.
It’s normal and often encouraged to seek multiple funding opportunities for a single program, often referred to as braided funding (see Braiding Funds without Getting Tied Up In Knots – Approaching Budgets with Pre-Award and Post-Award In Mind by Julie Alsup, GPC). You might even request more funds than you need to run a program with the expectation that one or more proposals will fall through. As nonprofit organizations that belong to and are supported by the public, we should always be looking for new funding streams in case an existing source should dry up. But what if you ask for more than you need, and all the funders decide you shall receive?
Every grant proposal requires some type of budget. Unfortunately, some of us tend to put off this component for as long as we can. However, it should really be the starting point. When we write a proposal, it should be for the purpose of filling a gap in our budget, not just to get money for money’s sake. In a previous blog, Julie Alsup introduced the idea of braided funding. Here, let's walk you through the nuts and bolt of implementing this useful concept.
Braided funding, supplanting, and leveraged funds are important concepts to understand for the purposes of effective grant planning (pre-award) and for successful grant management (post-award).
Put simply, braided funding refers to the concept of using multiple funding streams to support the expenses of an organization, program, or project. Having more than one funding stream helps to minimize risk should one funding stream dry up. In addition, having one or more confirmed revenue source helps build confidence among other potential funders.
With quick turnarounds and tight deadlines, grant writers can often overlook the importance of tying the numbers in the budget to the activities of the project. While funders give us many opportunities to do this, they often cite the absence of this connection as one of their biggest critiques of grant proposals. I’ve heard it mentioned time after time in funder panels, trainings, and in direct feedback from funders.
As you begin a grant proposal and rally the project team, encourage them to have a “budget first” mindset. The budget, after all, is the primary driver of what the grant is all about. When the budget is the last thing on the list to complete, this typically sets off a chain reaction of making last minute edits to the proposal narrative, budget narrative, timeline, etc. This is when the connection between the budget and the project itself can get lost. The two key places where grant writers can be sure to show this connection are the budget narrative and the proposal narrative.
There are many ways to think about budgeting in relation to grants. Essential to a well-run grants program is planning what discerns program or project creation needs from budget relieving needs.
Program/project creation - funds to help create a new program or project that aligns with the organization’s mission.
Budget relieving - funds that help ‘plug’ holes and relieve existing expenses.