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The vocabulary of budget development is part of the language required for writing successfully funded grant proposals. This set of entries covers words and phrases from C-E.

CONCEPT PAPER: A short variant of a full-length grant application, often only two or three pages long, that may be used or required for applicants seeking a corporate or foundation grant. At the least, it should include a problem statement, a program narrative, and a budget.

CONSTRUCTION: A cost category for the materials used in creating or modifying the facilities where some or all of a project’s activities will take place; by contrast, construction labor itself is a contractual budget line item. Some grant programs disallow construction line items.

CONTACT PERSON: A person or persons of whom a grant-maker may ask questions about the content, nature, and scope of an applicant’s proposal. Examples: The proposed Project Director or the applicant’s Executive Director.

CONTINUATION GRANT: A grant of additional funding awarded for one or more budget periods following the initial budget period of a multiyear discretionary grant; its award may require the applicant to demonstrate adequate progress during a current funding period.

CONTRACTUAL: A cost category for services to be provided by independent contractors in implementing a project. Contractors may be organizations or individuals. Such budget items may include: evaluators, trainers, consultants, partner subcontracts, and many other external providers of services; they may also include contracts for the rental or lease of facilities or equipment or similar resources.

CORPORATE GRANT: A charitable grant awards program funded by a for-profit business or corporation; it may be independent of the corporation and may have its own endowment. Example: Shell Oil Company offers several types of grants. Its website for US-based grants is at

COST CATEGORIES: The set of primary types of line items presented in a project budget. Common categories for government grants are: personnel, fringe benefits, contractual, travel, supplies, equipment, construction, other, and indirect costs. Categories for foundation grants are typically fewer; they may include as few categories as only personnel and non-personnel.

DEMONSTRATION GRANT: A grant designed to help an applicant to test, prove, or establish the feasibility or effectiveness of new approaches or new types of services in solving one or more defined problems or in addressing one or more defined needs.

DIRECT COSTS: Costs directly associated with operating a project and borne using funds from a grant maker. In government grants, direct costs commonly include: personnel (salaries, wages, and fringe benefits), consultants or contractual services, supplies and materials, equipment, travel, construction and renovation, and other. Foundation and corporate categories for allowable direct costs are typically fewer than government categories. Also see: Indirect Costs.

DISCRETIONARY GRANT: A grant awarded based on the judgment of, or at the option of, the grant-maker to a recipient selected after a competitive review. A discretionary grant program commonly involves a high ratio of applications to grant awards. In the foundation context, a discretionary grant may also be a grant awarded based on the judgment of, or at the option of, a member of its board or directors or trustees.

DUNS (DATA UNIVERSAL NUMBERING SYSTEM) NUMBER: A unique nine-digit identification number provided by Dun & Bradstreet (for free) and now required as an identifier for every applicant before it applies for a grant from the US federal government.

ELIGIBLE ACTIVITIES: A circumscribed set of activities for which applicants can propose to spend available grant funds; enabling state or federal legislation often explicitly defines them, and many public and private grant-makers also often define them in their application guidelines or on their websites.

ELIGIBLE APPLICANTS: Specific defined types of organizations that may apply for funding from a specific grant program at a specific time. Types commonly include: non-profit organizations, community-based organizations, faith-based organizations, institutions of higher education, and local educational agencies, among many others. Depending upon the specific grant-maker and the specific grant program, individuals also are often eligible to apply for grants.

ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA: Qualifying factors that a potential applicant must satisfy before it seeks a grant; often they pertain to the type of individual or organization as an applicant or to the persons or geographic area to benefit from a grant.

ENABLING LEGISLATION: A law, enacted at any level of government (e.g., county, state, federal), which creates and defines one or more grant programs.

ENDOWMENT FUND: An account of funds set up to be invested in perpetuity to provide income for the continuous support of a non-profit organization. Some foundations do award grants for endowments.

EQUIPMENT: A cost category for durable resources requested in a budget; generally, each discrete item of equipment lasts more than a defined period of time (e.g., one year or three years) and costs more than a defined minimum amount (e.g., $500 or $5,000). Definitions of equipment in terms of durability and minimum cost vary widely among grant makers. Also see: Supplies.

A later post will cover entries in this glossary starting with letters F-H.


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