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, I’ll 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.

Grant Pro Tips for Discussing Budget Planning by Kari Cronbaugh-Auld, MSW, GPC  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.

During my experience working for and in partnership with nonprofit organizations, one common thread is the perpetuation of a “scarcity mindset”                                                                               (http://www.socialsectorpartners.com/?s=scarcity+mindset ). This mindset is based on the idea that nonprofits exist to help others in need and serve the greater good, therefore, staff and anything they might need to do their jobs (salaries, benefits, training) is often last on the list of funding priorities.

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