Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Tech it for Granted: Creating a Budget

Many grants that provide funds rather than equipment require that you submit a budget with your application. Even if not, it's a good idea to begin thinking about the cost of equipment and other items you need (that are eligible to be covered under the terms of your grant).

1. More research!
While many schools and districts have contracts with certain companies for discounted prices on materials and equipment, I recommend researching your prices in the public sector and using those prices in your budget. Often, prices on certain items can fluctuate in the months between the submission of your application, notification that you've received the grant, actually receiving the funds, and finally putting in an order. Going with the generally higher prices of the public sector for your budget estimate will help offset those fluctuations.

2. Find out the ordering process in your school or district
Know how the funds will be received and routed, how long it will take for you to be able to use the funds to order materials, and the procedure you must go through to make the materials order. Also try to get an estimate on the average time between you submitting an order and fulfillment.

3. Create a spreadsheet!
I promise, I don't own stock in spreadsheet software, they're just really handy for keeping track of things like this. You can even set up handy formulas to help you calculate expenses do you don't have to do all that mathy stuff on your own! Check out this example spreadsheet I set up as a starting point. Again, be sure that your budget follows grant guidelines and includes all requested information.

4. Be sure the items included in your budget are eligible 
Some grants have restrictions on what you can and cannot use the funds for. For example, you might be able to cover a how-to book and equipment, but not money for a PD workshop. Other grants allow you to purchase software, but not equipment. Simply review the grant you're applying to to ensure that all the items you include are eligible.

5. Be sure the items included in your budget are realistic
Be sure the items included in your budget are realistic. Don't ask for things that you don't need, and remember that you don't have to have the best of the best- if there is a moderately priced item that will get the job done, you might want to go that route. The more realistic your grant request is, the more likely you are to receive the funding you want and need.

6. Justify each item
Provide a short narrative that explains how each item you want to spend money is relevant to the core goals of your grant. While this is often not required, it gives grant reviewers a quick reference should any questions arise, and provides the peace of mind that you will be diligent and conscientious with how you spend grant funds.

Don't miss the next installment which will discuss what to do once you've gotten the grant!

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