Is your police agency budget helping or hurting your grant application?

If you create the budget as you are developing your project, you will save yourself a lot of stress — and work — as the deadline for submission approaches


Of all the individual elements of a grant application, none is more important than the budget. Unfortunately, when developing a grant application it is a common practice to work on the budget last. To ensure the budget enhances your chance of getting funded, it needs to be addressed from the outset. 

In order to better understand why this is so important, it’s useful to think like a reviewer. Whether it’s the federal government or a private foundation, the people reviewing your grant application need to feel confident that your project will make good use of their money and make a positive difference in the community. 

One of the most important aspects of creating your budget is to make sure each item requested (whether it’s equipment or overtime) is directly referred to in the project narrative, which is where you describe the problem and how it will be solved. That is, you have discussed in great detail how each of the items is necessary to the operation of the overall project so that, when the budget is reviewed, it’s obvious that you need everything requested.

Simultaneously Developing Narrative & Budget
Most applications require you to break down each item by individual cost — how much each unit costs and how many units you need to buy — and then provide a narrative of how it will be used. It’s the narrative section that trips up a lot of applications.

Get into the habit of having a draft of the budget available to work on as you are writing the application. When you get to any section that mentions something you need the funding for, add it to the budget section draft as well. That way you already have the information needed for the budget narrative, and you are ensuring that each item requested is integral to the project.

It is common for agency administrators to add something to the budget at the last minute. That won’t be a problem if you make sure to add it in to the project narrative with as much detail as possible to directly tie it to the project. A reviewer who sees a line item budget request for something not also discussed in the narrative section may assume you don’t really need it. Worse, they may assume you are only interested in the money and not in solving your community’s problems. 

Conclusion
A grant application is so much more than just asking for funding. It’s a clearly-defined, well-thought-out project which just happens to need money to work. The budget must reflect that fact.

If you create the budget as you are developing your project, you will save yourself a lot of stress — and work — as the deadline for submission approaches. Most importantly, your budget will enhance your application and your chances of getting funded.