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The “S” in the G.R.A.N.T.S. Formula

By Holly Rustick

Do you know how to develop a strategic budget for your grants?

Money is often a fun thing to talk about, yet so many people cringe when they think of the budget section of the grant. For me, I used to cringe, but now, I find it’s like a puzzle piece that needs to be sorted well – and early – so that the entire grant makes sense.

Today, I am going to show you how to create a strategic budget that you can use for every single grant that you write. By the end of the episode, you will have the tools to create an amazing budget. Having a simple and unified budget format could save you hundreds of hours of frustration.

Here’s a quick review of the previous pieces of the G.R.A.N.T.S. Formula: 

G - Get the FOA or RFP and use it as a template
R - Research needs
A - Articulate goals
N - Narrow your objectives
T - Timetable your activities

Let’s get started with the final letter of the formula today!



Strategic Budget

Every single FOA or RFP is going to ask you to submit a budget. Remember, you can only ask for the maximum of the grant! If there is a federal grant that has a ceiling of $450,000, then you can only ask for $450,000. Don’t ask for $450,001. They will throw out your grant. Having said that you need to make sure that your project is realistic with the ceiling amount for the grant.

So, how do you figure out your budget? Well, a great starting point is to look at everything you have already developed. If you have your needs statement, goal(s), S.M.A.R.T. objectives, and sufficient activities for making it all happen, you now have your entire outline for your budget!

Make sure you include any connections between your activities and your budget. If you are hiring staff as an activity, make sure you add it in your budget and vice versa. If it’s in your budget, make sure you have an activity line for it. 

Your categories should include the following unless specified by the RFP or FOA that they want it in a different way! (Then follow that!) However, this is the format most federal agencies will use and many times foundations do not give you a format.
  • Personnel
  • Fringe Benefits
  • Travel
  • Equipment 
  • Supplies
  • Consulting/Contracting
  • Other
  • Indirect
  • Total

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The example we’ve been using is a nonprofit in New Mexico that serves pregnant teens and teenage parents.

In episode 84, we crafted a problem statement

The teenage pregnancy rate in New Mexico is the highest in the nation, with 62 out of 1,000 teenage youth pregnant compared to the U.S. average of 18.8 (CDC, 2017). 

We then went onto episode 85 and articulated the goal as

The Project will increase fiscal management and job wages for pregnant teenagers and teenage parents.

In episode 86, we devised three objectives

  1. 100 pregnant youth or teenage parents will receive 20 hours of financial literacy training by July 31st 2020. 

  2. 75 pregnant youth or teenage parents will have completed their GED or High School diploma by June 30, 2020.

  3. 20 pregnant youth or teenage parents will be employed by December 31st, 2020.

In episode 87, we developed a timetable for activities to reach objective one that included the following:


Now let’s see what our budget would look like for objective one: 

So, there you go! That is how you create a strategic budget that aligns with all of your activities. Of course, you would hash out your other activities for your other two objectives as well.

Now you can see how simple this really is and that budgets do not need to be rocket science! 

Please subscribe to the podcast below so you can make sure you get next week’s episode delivered right to your podcast player as I have a special guest on from Nashville! Also, be sure to check out our YouTube channel

I would love to hear your thoughts on the G.R.A.N.T.S. Formula! Send an email tome at holly@grantwritingandfunding. 


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