Creating an Effective Budget Narrative

A budget is a key element of most grant proposals and serves as a blueprint for spending the project’s funds. An effective proposal budget outlines the proposed project in fiscal terms and helps reviewers to determine how the project will be conducted. The decisions made now at the proposal stage will continue through the life of the grant, and others will make decisions based on it at future stages. There is no question that preparing a reasonable budget and thoughtful budget narrative is crucial.

In this training, presenters Julie Assel, GPC, and Julie Alsup, GPC guide participants through creating effective budgets, including program and grant specific budgets. For those new to creating grant budgets, they explore the budget forms, line items, and the messages your budget conveys about your nonprofit. They then dive deeper into some of the nuances of in-kind supports, indirect costs, depreciation, and other areas that will help you deliver an effective and successful budget narrative.

What You’ll Learn:

  • How to clearly lay out your organization’s expenses and revenue
  • When and how to divide budget expenses
  • Common areas of confusion when writing about expenses and project budgets
  • How to demonstrate that you need grants while maintaining a reasonable budget surplus
  • Three ways to connect your budget to the budget narrative

Price: $40

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This training aligns with the Grant Professional Certification Institute’s Competencies and Skills and is approved for 1.5 Continuing Education Unit (CEU). Full participation in this training is also applicable for 1.5 points in Category 1.B – Education of the CFRE International application for initial certification and/or recertification.

GPC Competencies:

Competency 4: Knowledge of how to craft, construct, and submit an effective grant application.

  • Skill 4.1: Interpret grant application request for proposal (RFP) guidelines and requirements (e.g., abstracts and summaries, problem statements and needs assessments, introductions of organizations and capability statements, references and past performance requirements, timelines, narrative formats, budget formats, standard forms and assurances, scoring rubrics, to ensure high quality responses.
  • Skill 4.2: Identify elements of standard grant proposal applications (e.g., needs assessments and statements, project objectives, project designs and methods, project narratives, activities, action plans, timelines, project evaluations, budgets, dissemination plans, future funding or sustainability statements, appendices, attachments).
  • Skill 4.8: Identify effective practices for developing realistic, accurate line-item and narrative budgets and for expressing the relationship between line-items and project activities in the budget narrative.
  • Skill 4.9: Identify sources of in-kind matches for project budgets.
  • Skill 4.10: Identify factors that limit how budgets should be written (e.g., matching requirements, supplanting issues, indirect costs, prevailing rates, performance-based fees, client fees, collective bargaining, allowable versus non-allowable costs).

Target Audience: Finance Officers, Development Directors, Grant Writers, Program Managers, Executive Directors, Fundraising Coordinators, Grant Administrators, Grant Coordinators, Grant Proposal Managers, Program Coordinators, Program Directors, Program Managers, Project Managers

Level of Experience: Beginner/Intermediate/Advanced

Length: 96 minutes

Presented By:
Julie Alsup, GPC, Director Assel Grant Services
Julie Assel, GPC, President/CEO Assel Grant Services


Julie Alsup, GPC, is Assel Grant Services’ Director and oversees all operations within the nonprofit division of the firm. Prior to joining Assel Grant Services, Julie served as the Grants Director for the YMCA of Greater Kansas City from 2011-2016, raising over $10 million for programs and operations during her tenure and building strong relationships with local funders. Over the course of her career, she has successfully secured more than $20 million in grant funding. She is a Grant Professional Association Approved Trainer.

Julie Assel, GPC, founded Assel Grant Services in 2007 and has over fifteen years of experience in grant writing, research, and management. She has written and reviewed numerous federal, foundation, corporation, and local grants focused on education, healthcare, STEM, mental health, substance abuse, homeless outreach, human services, and small business. She is a Grant Professional Association Approved Trainer, and currently serves as the President of the Grant Professionals Certification Institute’s board of directors. Julie has successfully secured over $144 million in grant funding over since 2003.