10 Tips for Effective & Efficient Grant Budgets

**Note from Diane: I am excited to welcome Jasmine Markanday as an author and subcontractor for the DH Leonard Consulting & Grant Writing Services team. She is a grant budget guru!


Planning is an essential part of grant seeking, grant writing, and submitting proposals. Grant writers often work on deadlines–be it for a letter of intent, submitting proposals, and submitting reports. You need to write a grant that depicts a story because the art of storytelling is an imperative part of content writing—it’s about telling and creating stories in a fascinating way so that the reviewers will be mesmerized with your language of art. You see the reviewers look at so many proposals and it is important that you make their job easier by writing a compelling grant proposal. And, your budget needs to tell a story of the who, what, where, and how you will utilize those grant funds in the best possible way. Having a good grant budget plan will lead you to successfully meeting your project goals and objectives.


  1. Start with a detailed review of Request for Proposal (RFP) rubric. This will ensure you choose the best format for your pending proposal.
  2. Follow the budget categories provided by the funder.
  3. Budget costs must be (a) Necessary and Reasonable (b) Allowable & Allocable . This goes back to the OMB Regulations. You can’t be spending the funder’s money the wrong way–the funding agency and you are accountable.
  4. Use of Tables for multiple year grants is highly recommended. They make your budget look more presentable and they help the reviewer have a bigger picture of your project.
  5. Round off your numbers. That’s the accountant in me, it looks prettier.
  6. If you are new to writing grants, get help from the Finance Office to make sure you get the most accurate information on personnel & fringe. Even, check with your accounts payable office to analyze past expenses that you are writing in your grant budget.
    • Request quotes from vendors if you are writing a big budgeted item such as Software. Include that in your budget narrative as well.
  7. If Contractual Services has 3 or more subcontractors use a pie or graph chart to show much funding is going to each subcontractor along with the %. The pie charts or graphs will add color to your proposal and it makes the budget look simpler.
  8. When using the budget category descriptions–you don’t want to be very specific. This will tie you to that item. Be generic so that you have the flexibility to buy from anywhere.
  9. Write your budget narrative wisely. A reviewer should be able to match that with your project narrative.
  10. Make sure your MATH is accurate. Numbers are beautiful when they balance.

Grant budgets require planning, time, and effort to develop. I hope you will be able to use these tips in your next grant proposal.

I would love your feedback on how you tell your story with numbers. Please share your tips on how you handle grant budgets with us in the comments section on the website, via email, or via social media!


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