Grant Budget Narratives

By | July 25, 2017

When you’re writing grants, the application will often request a budget narrative. What is that? Didn’t you just explain what you were going to do with the money in the ‘Why I want a grant’ section?

Budget narratives are different

When you are writing a grant proposal, one component essential to your success is a reasonable budget. Not only do you have to know what you are trying to accomplish, you need to demonstrate that you have a real grasp on what resources will be required to make it a reality.

So your grant narrative might say, “Funding from the XYZ Foundation will provide meals to the homeless in our community.” This is fine for program narrative (with perhaps a bit more explanation), but it won’t fly for the budget narrative.
The budget narrative takes each line item in the budget and explains how it translates into some concrete object or action. So for instance, your budget might include $600 for facilities. Your budget narrative should explain, “$600 will pay for the utilities at St. Benedict’s Parish Hall and the use of their commercial kitchen for one year at a cost of $50 per month. The use of the space is being donated by the Church.”

Another example: $936 for food would be explained, “The ministry plans on feeding 20 people lunch three times per week. The average cost per meal will be 1.2 pounds of food per meal X an average of $0.25 per pound of food from the Food Bank. 20 people X 3 meals X 52 weeks X 1.2 pounds per meal X $0.25 per pound of food = $936.

It might seem a bit much to go to this level of detail with your grant budget, but remember, people in charge of giving grant money look at applications like yours all the time. They will be able to tell if you don’t know what you’re doing by looking at the grant budget and seeing if the numbers make sense at all. In the above example, if you don’t mention that you’re getting food from a food bank, the grant funder would rightly say, “Where on earth are they going to get food for $0.25 a pound?” They would throw out your application right there.

Good budgets are a challenge, but going through the process to create them is good for your ministry. The budget narrative makes your thought process explicit for the grant funder. When they read a solid budget narrative, they will see that you understand what you’re trying to accomplish and will be able to bring it to fruition.