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Active seekers of competitive grants must be aware of broad social, political, and economic trends that impact their ability to obtain funding. Some of these trends are newly emerging; others are persistent. A few of the more salient trends in the 2010s are explored here.


Trend: Cost-Sharing

Grant makers consistently expect evidence of an applicant’s investment in or commitment to its proposed project. Cost sharing may be explicit or implied, optional or required. Required shared cost ratios of 4:1, 3:1, 2:1, even 1:1 are common. Local cost sharing can demonstrate broad-based community support for problem-solving strategies an applicant proposes to use.


Cost-Sharing Strategies:

  • Observe at least the minimum cost sharing ratios required
  • Select cost sharing items whose values can be documented well
  • Identify specific cost sharing commitments and amounts in letters of commitment
  • Build resources for use in cost sharing through partnerships and collaboration


Trend: Community Engagement

Many competitive grant programs encourage authentic, measurable, and sustained involvement of families and community groups in planning, implementing, and evaluating a project. Both public and private grant makers also often require documentation of the nature and extent of such community engagement.


Community Engagement Strategies:

  • Design programs around forms of community engagement
  • Ensure active community participation in developing grant proposals
  • Offer alternative ways for community members to participate
  • Use multiple channels to invite public participation in grant-related activities


Trend: Research

Both public and private grant makers demand a robust research-based rationale for the strategies an applicant proposes. Applicants for projects involving direct services, as well as those for model, demonstration, and research-oriented projects must show that they will integrate or apply best practices in doing what they propose to do.


Research Strategies:

  • Create an on-hand research base for use in anticipated proposals
  • Do a thorough literature search well before you need a review of it for a proposal
  • Use scientific and statistical research studies and meta-analyses
  • Use local, state, and national plans, reports, and white papers as resources


Trend: Training

Many grant makers expect applicants to budget for human resource development or to demonstrate that qualifications of staff and other participants eliminate the need for it. Such terms as “family education”, “parental involvement”, “staff development”, and “professional development” all tend to carry more positive connotations than mere “training.”


Training Strategies:

  • Collect vitae and resumes for potential use in future proposals
  • Adopt the grant maker’s alternate term of choice in writing about “training”
  • Do local needs assessments to support plans to conduct “training”
  • Review the research literature about what works in doing “training”


This is one of a series on trends in grant making. As a grant writer and/or a grant seeker, you may discern others, or you may discern counter-trends. If so, don’t hesitate to comment.


This is one in a series of posts presenting sample elements of a possible proposal. In their illustrative details, its contents are both fictional and factual; however, its overall approach has won grants for similar purposes.


Budget. YCESC will contribute the services of a Project Coordinator (conservatively estimated at 10% full-time equivalent) to organize, coordinate, and evaluate the project’s Environmental Education training and dissemination activities in collaboration with its school and Watershed Education partners. Use of local and state in-kind matching funds will exceed 25% of the total cost of the project; they will represent an estimated $9,000 (or 26.47%) out of a total budget of $34,000. 

The budget identifies and justifies the costs of a project or initiative. It should be consistent with objectives, activities, strategies, and other aspects of the Work Plan as well as with future funding plans. Funds for budget items may come from a grant, an applicant, and other sources.

The budget presents itemized costs and their basis. It must be specific, detailed, accurate, and justified. Some grant makers may allow applicants to adjust a proposed budget during negotiations or after notification of funding.

An itemized budget can use a four-column format: Item Cost Category, Grant (Requested) Funds, Other (Local) Funds, and Line Item Totals:

  1. Item Cost Category – a brief description of each budget item
  2. Grant (Requested) Funds – funds from the requested grant award
  3. Other (Local) Funds – funds from all other sources than the requested grant award
  4. Line Item Totals – sums of each line in Grant Funds and Other Funds columns
Item Cost Category Grant Funds Other Funds Line Item Totals
Category A
Category B

A Budget Justification explains the calculations and factors used to arrive at figures presented for each budget line item.

In ordinary practice, budget considerations loom large. They can drive an applicant’s initial decision to submit a grant proposal as well as impact every aspect of any proposed Work Plan.

Preparing Budgets:

In planning a budget for a proposal, several questions prove useful:

Personnel: What personnel will the project or initiative require? What will they cost? Who will pay for them? Do you have already established salary and wage schedules?

Fringe Benefits: What benefits will personnel receive? What will they cost? Who will pay for them? On what basis are the fringe benefits calculated? What do they include?

Travel: Will personnel travel anywhere? Who will go? What will transportation, lodging, event registrations, and per diem expenses cost? What will each destination cost?

Supplies: What supplies will the project or initiative require? How does the grant maker define supplies? What will they cost? Who will pay for them?

Equipment: What equipment will the project or initiative require? How does the grant maker define equipment? What will it cost? Who will pay for it?

Contracts: What contracted services will the project or initiative require? Who will provide them? What will they cost? Who will pay for them?

Other: What other resources will the project or initiative require? What will they cost? Who will pay for them?

Indirect Costs: What is your indirect cost rate? On what basis is it calculated? How was it established? To what categories of budget items can it be applied?

This post is one in a series about questions useful in planning competitive grant proposals.

New technology for its own sake is never a good reason to pursue a grant; too often it merely becomes an untested and unproven solution in search of a problem. But that new technology, selected judiciously and used wisely as a means to solve well-defined problems or to address unmet needs, can prove to be a powerful asset.


Benefits of Technology Grants:

New technology can help its users to translate an organization’s mission and vision into reality. When it is applied well, it can:

  1. Help its users to achieve valued outcomes
  2. Remove or modify obstacles to solving critical problems or alleviating unmet needs
  3. Aid its users in becoming self-directed, adaptive, productive, lifelong learners and creators of meaning
  4. Allow its users to do the tasks essential to reaching their goals and objectives
  5. Deliver measurable direct (or expected) and indirect (or unexpected) benefits to its users


Questions for Planning:

Planners of new technology projects or initiatives must consider many of the same basic questions as other grant seekers. Among the questions useful for preparing to seek a grant for new technology are:

  1. What technology do you have?
  2. What technology do you need?
  3. Why do you need the technology you do not have?
  4. How will you use the new technology?
  5. Who will use the new technology?
  6. What benefits will come from using the new technology?
  7. How will the new technology support your goals?
  8. How will the new technology support your objectives?
  9. How will the new technology support your core activities?
  10. What will the new technology let you do that you cannot do now?
  11. What will happen if you do not get the new technology you need?
  12. Who can partner with you to get the new technology?
  13. How will you evaluate the results of using the new technology?
  14. What budget will you need for the new technology?
  15. How will you support the new technology when funding ends?

Often users of the new technology will need training, technical support, appropriate wares, infrastructure, time and funding. All of these considerations can impact a grant budget.

Proposals that win grants for K-12 education have many predictable information needs. Planning a project budget is no exception! Applicants that have their budget basics ready before responding to a grant opportunity greatly improve the likelihood of funding.


Although applicants may not need every item listed here for every proposal budget, among the elements it is prudent to anticipate are: salaries and fringe benefits, travel, consultants, and indirect costs.


Salaries and Fringe Benefits:

  1. Local established salary schedules for all positions
  2. Percentages used in calculating fringe benefits: workers compensation, retirement (pensions), health insurance, dental insurance, life insurance, professional development incentive increments, and social security (FICA)
  3. Local fringe benefits rate for all administrative staff
  4. Local fringe benefits rate for all certified staff
  5. Local fringe benefits rate for all classified staff
  6. Local fringe benefits for all staff already on payroll for non-contract work on a consultant basis



  1. Typical round-trip airfares
  2. Typical round-trip ground transportation fares (subways, trams, taxis)
  3. Typical per diem lodging costs
  4. Local round-trip highway tolls
  5. Round-trip mileages to frequent destinations
  6. Local established per diem rates
  7. Local established mileage reimbursement rates
  8. Federal per diem schedule
  9. Federal vehicle use per mile rate


Other Items:

  1. Typical consultant hourly and daily rates
  2. Typical evaluation hourly and daily rates
  3. Course tuition rates per credit hour
  4. Applicant indirect charges rate and its basis


Later posts will cover information needs for other aspects of educational grant proposals.

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

RECIPIENT: An individual or organization that will receive a grant or has received a grant.

REGULATIONS: Administrative guidelines for government grants, issued after enabling legislation, which establish and define eligible applicants; eligible beneficiaries; the nature of activities to be funded; allowable costs; selection criteria for proposal review; and other requirements. Example: At are found the Education Department General Administrative Regulations (EDGAR).

REPLICABILITY: The proven or predicted ability of a project’s effective activities and strategies to be transportable to another setting and to generate similar results in it; it is a factor in considering the potential impact of an initial grant award and is a criterion often associated with grant programs that fund demonstration projects. Also see: Demonstration Grant.

REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS (RFP): A formal invitation to apply for a grant that describes what types of applicants are eligible to apply; when proposals are due; the program selection criteria; the contents required in a complete proposal; anticipated levels and durations of funding; and other considerations. The specific length and contents of an RFP vary widely from one grant program and one solicitation to another. Also may be called: request for applications (RFA).

RESTRICTED FUNDS: Funds that a grant recipient may use only for predetermined purposes – such as those defined in the approved budget of a funded grant proposal – and that consequently it cannot expend as general funds.

REVIEW PANEL: A group of peers or experts retained by a grant-maker to evaluate the merits of grant proposals in a grant competition and to recommend which ones should be funded. Sometimes the reviewers may include one or more directors or trustees of a foundation.

SALARIES: The compensation of professional and technical personnel – who are typically limited only to those holding a post-secondary degree – before the addition of fringe benefits.

SEED MONEY: A grant award intended to help start a new project or initiative or to launch a new non-profit organization.

SELECTION CRITERIA: The formal set of factors a grant-maker uses in scoring and ranking a set of competitive proposals to determine which ones it will select for funding. Also may be called: criteria or review criteria.

SINGLE POINT OF CONTACT (SPOC): A person in state government whom an applicant must inform when it is applying for a federal grant in the US. A list of single points of contact is at Some states have a SPOC, others don’t.

SOFT FUNDS: The funding of staff positions or other resources using grant funds rather than other means such as revenues from tax levies; it reflects the premise that such assets are not as secure, over the long term, as those funded using other means (e.g., annual tax levies). Also see: Hard Funds.

STANDARD FORM: A blank template that an applicant must complete and submit, as each specific program requires, with its application for a federal grant. A comprehensive collection of standard forms is at, but be certain to observe strictly the cautionary guidance available at this site.

SUB-GRANTEE: A lower-tier recipient (e.g., a county agency) of grant funds from a higher-tier recipient of those funds (e.g., a state agency) and not directly from the grant maker; also called a sub-recipient. Also see: Grantee.

SUPPLANTING: A deliberate shifting or displacement in the source of funds (e.g., state or local) used to afford a given resource (e.g., personnel) in an organization because of the availability of federal grant funds after a new grant award. One caveat in many government grant programs is “Do not supplant.”

SUPPLIES: A cost category for consumable resources such as paper, pens, pencils, postage, folders, files, binders, paperclips, toner, blank data storage media, and similar office products. Definitions and thresholds for value of the discrete items vary widely across grant programs and funding agencies. Also see: Materials.

SUSTAINABILITY: A measure of the perceived likelihood that an applicant (and its partners, if any) will be able to obtain and use funding (and other resources) from itself and/or other sources to continue its proposed project or initiative after its initial grant funding ends. Grant-makers of all types often favor proposals that exhibit a high potential for sustainability.

TRAVEL: A cost category for costs associated with going place-to-place, including fares (air, bus, train, taxi, or shuttle), vehicle rentals or leases, mileage, tolls, meals, tips, and lodging. Every item assigned to this category must be clearly defined and well justified.

UNIFORM APPLICATION FORMS: The standard forms that applicants must complete and submit with applications for federal grants; several of them require specific or detailed budget information. Examples: SF-424 and SF-524. In federal programs, these are associated with specific grant opportunities posted on

UNRESTRICTED FUNDS: Funds from a grant or any other source that an organization may use for any legal purpose, such as general funds or operating funds.

WAGES: The hourly compensation of non-professional personnel – typically all of those who do not hold a post-secondary degree – before the addition of fringe benefits, if any.

Later posts will tackle types and sources of data used in winning grant proposals.

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 M-P.

MATCHING FUNDS: The share of a proposed project’s total costs, which comes from any source other than the specific grant being sought; the matching funds may consist of the fair market value of donated resources (in-kind contributions) or of actual cash to be spent (cash) or of both. See the table for examples when an applicant is requesting a $200,000 grant.

Calculating Matching Funds
Match Required Grant-Maker Share Local Share Total Budget
50% Match = 1:1 $200,000 grant $200,000 local     $400,000
33% Match = 2:1 $200,000 grant $100,000 local     $300,000
25% Match = 3:1 $200,000 grant $66,700 local     $266,700
20% Match = 4:1 $200,000 grant $50,000 local     $250,000
10% Match = 9:1 $200,000 grant $22,500 local     $222,500


MATCHING GRANT: A grant awarded to an applicant with the intention of matching some of the funds (i.e., as a partial match) or all of the funds (i.e., as a total match) awarded to an applicant by another source. Also see: Challenge Grant.

MATERIALS: A cost category for consumable resources such as media (books, workbooks, compact disks, videodisks, or software), references, and training products. The category is often conjoined with Supplies or is subsumed as a part of Supplies. Also see: Supplies.

MULTIYEAR BUDGET: A budget covering all or part of two or more consecutive fiscal or calendar years. Many grant-makers require a budget for an entire multiyear project period at the time of the original application.

NON-COMPETITIVE GRANT: A funding program from which applicants are eligible for a grant award if they complete and submit required materials by a given deadline. Also may be called: a formula grant, an entitlement grant, an allocative grant, or a budget earmark.

NOVICE APPLICANT: An individual or an organization that has not received a discretionary grant directly from a specified unit or level of government (e.g., a federal agency) or from a specified grant program within a defined time-span (e.g., the last five fiscal years).

OTHER: A cost category commonly used in state and federal grant programs for budget items that do not fit other categories. Every item assigned to this category should be as clearly defined and well justified as every other item in a proposed budget. Avoid using this cost category for budget line items vaguely identified as “contingency” or as “miscellaneous.

OVERHEAD: See Indirect Costs.

PASS-THROUGH: A scheme for the distribution of funding where a first tier of grant recipients (e.g., state agencies) administers a grant program, awards sub-grants to a second tier of eligible applicants (e.g., school districts); and performs a yearly program audit of the second-tier grant recipients. Also may be called: flow-through funding.

PERSONNEL: A cost category for the human resources or labor, internal to the applicant as an organization, who will be involved in implementing a project; it includes positions paid in salaries and those paid in wages, and it excludes all independent contractors (e.g., evaluators and other consultants). Personnel may or may not be paid out of a proposed grant budget.

PRIVATE FOUNDATION: A legally defined type of nonprofit organization whose directors or trustees conduct charitable programs for social, cultural, educational, religious, or other permissible purposes.

PROGRAM OFFICE: An administrative unit, within a grant-making organization, that implements or coordinates the details of conducting a grant program, including the review and ranking of applications.

PROGRAM OFFICER: An administrator on the staff of a grant-making organization who runs a specific grant program, manages grant competitions, and provides technical assistance either to potential grant applicants or to existing grant recipients or to both.

PROJECT: The proposed plan for which an applicant requests grant funds.

PROJECT INCOME: The revenue an applicant’s project is expected to generate during a given time-span; it may include products sold, membership dues, service fees, earned interest, and funds raised by other means. It may also be called: program income or revenue.

PROJECT PERIOD: The total time for which support of a discretionary project has been approved; it is usually a series of one-year budget periods. Most project periods last one to five years; some may be longer, others may be shorter. Also see: Budget Period and Grant Period.

PROPOSAL: A written application of vastly varying length and content, submitted to one or more grant makers, describing a plan or initiative to meet one or more identified needs, and requesting partial or full funding for its support. Some grant-makers and grant programs require much more formal, detailed, and highly structured proposals – narratives and budgets – than do others. Also may be called an application or a funding request.

A later post will cover entries in this glossary starting with letters R-Z.

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 H-M.

HARD FUNDS: The funding of staff positions or other resources using annual tax levies or similarly predictable and renewable revenues rather than by grant funds; its character reflects the premise that such assets are more secure, over the long term, than those funded using grant funds. Also see: Soft Funds.

IN-KIND CONTRIBUTION: A non-cash donation of labor (paid staff or unpaid volunteer), facilities, equipment, materials, or supplies to carry out a project. Applicants for grants must exercise extraordinary care in calculating the cash value of in-kind contributions and in identifying, tracking, and reporting the sources of such contributions. Also see: Matching Funds.

INDIRECT COSTS (IDC): A cost category for costs that are not readily allocable to or identifiable with operating a specific grant program; it is also often called overhead. Indirect costs = direct costs x approved indirect cost rate. Such costs commonly relate to administration and facilities. Generally, a government grant-maker reimburses indirect costs only after it has negotiated and approved an indirect cost rate with the grant recipient. As grant-makers, foundations are less apt to allow full or partial recovery of an organization’s indirect costs than are units of government. Also see: Direct Costs.

INDIRECT COST RATE: An annually revised percentage established by a unit of government for a grant recipient that the recipient uses in computing the amount it charges to a grant to reimburse itself for indirect costs it incurs in doing the work of the grant-funded project. A foundation grant-maker also may solicit and approve an applicant’s proposed indirect cost rate before it considers a proposal from it or awards a grant to it.

INVITATIONAL PRIORITY: An area of special focus which a grant-maker would prefer to see an applicant address in its proposal, but which does not affect the review, rating, or rank ordering of proposals.

LEAD AGENCY (Applicant): The organization that submits a proposal on behalf of a partnership of two or more organizations and that serves as the grant recipient. If funded, the lead agency is legally responsible for implementing and administering its funded project, for properly managing all grant funds, and for submitting all required reports.

LEAD AGENCY (Grant Maker): Particularly in federal grant making, the agency or program office with the primary responsibility for approving or funding a project; it reviews the proposals, coordinates with other involved agencies, and notifies the applicant of its funding outcome.

LETTER OF COMMITMENT: A brief official letter that conveys the willingness of a partner organization to commit cash or other resources to a proposed project; it specifies the terms and conditions of the commitment, the precise resources to be offered or delivered, and the actual or estimated values of those resources. Also see: Letter of Support.

LETTER OF INQUIRY (LOI): A brief, but formal, mode of grant application, typically one to five pages long, often used when an applicant seeks a grant from a foundation; it commonly includes an introduction, a problem statement, objectives and activities, an evaluation plan, an organizational capacity statement, and a budget. The letter of inquiry often forms a basis for deciding whether the foundation will request a full proposal from an applicant. Informally, also known as an LOI.

LETTER OF INTENT: A brief official letter or e-mail (or other specified form of notification) from a potential applicant to a grant-maker that conveys its intention to apply for funding. The grant-maker may request or require the letter of intent to gauge the number of applicants likely to be competing for funding in a given grant program. Alternatively, some grant-makers may use the term as a synonym for letter of inquiry.

LETTER OF SUPPORT: A brief official letter that conveys the enthusiasm, endorsement, and encouragement of an individual or an organization for an applicant’s proposed grant project and for its request for funding, but does not explicitly commit resources to it. Also see: Letter of Commitment.

LEVEL FUNDING: An amount of grant funding that does not change from year to year during a multiyear grant.

LEVERAGING: A measure of the potential role that a given grant award is likely to have in attracting other funding or resources to a proposed project or initiative. As the specific grant-maker requires, an applicant may present either a ratio of requested grant funds to total project funds or a ratio of requested grant funds to funds from other sources.

MARKET VALUE: The economic value of a resource (e.g., volunteer labor at minimum wage) as determined up to the date and time an applicant submits a proposal (e.g., the wage rate in effect on or before that date); often, an applicant determines market value by checking an official government publication or website or by reviewing a grant program’s regulations.

A later post will cover entries in this glossary starting with letters M–P.

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 F-G.

FAMILY FOUNDATION: An independent, private foundation that the members of a single family fund and maintain. Example: Davis Family Foundation at

FEDERATED GIVING PROGRAM: A collaborative fundraising effort usually administered by a supervising nonprofit organization that in turn distributes the funds generated through that effort as grants to other nonprofit organizations. Example: United Way of Greater Houston at

FISCAL AGENT: An organization that has legal accountability for managing a grant award, for expending its funds, and for reporting on grant expenditures.

FISCAL SPONSOR: A third-party organization that agrees to serve as the fiscal agent for a grant on behalf of an applicant or a consortium of applicants; some grant-makers will permit use of a fiscal sponsor, others will not.

FISCAL YEAR (FY): A 12-month period at the end of which the financial accounts are closed for the organization in question. Common fiscal years are: October 1 through September 30 (federal), July 1 through June 30 (states), and January 1 through December 31 (foundations). Organization-wide financial audits commonly occur after the end of each fiscal year.

FORM 990-PF: A yearly Internal Revenue Service (IRS) form required of all private foundations (hence the -PF) that provides a public record of the financial status and grant-making activity of a private foundation. In some respects, Form 990-PF is the equivalent of an annual federal income tax return to be filed by private foundations

FORMULA GRANT: A non-competitive grant whose amount is established by applying a formula based upon criteria described in a law and amplified in its subsequent regulations, and awarded after a yearly formal application process; it may also called an entitlement grant or an allocative grant.

FRINGE BENEFITS: A cost category for non-salary and non-wage modes of staff compensation that accrue to those who qualify for them. Examples of typical fringe benefits are: health insurance, dental insurance, unemployment insurance, workers’ compensation, paid holidays, paid sick leave, paid personal leave, paid vacation days, and FICA (social security). Fringe benefits are usually calculated as percentages (%) of salaries or wages.

FULL TIME EQUIVALENT (FTE): The financial obligation for one full-time staff member. Two or more persons may split the position in the budget to add up to one full-time equivalent. FTE may be written as a percentage (abbreviated as % FTE) or as a specific number (N) of hours per week (abbreviated as N hrs/wk).

FUNDING CYCLE: A sequence of events that starts with a formal public notice that funds are available, and includes the deadline for submission of applications, the review of applications, the award of grants, the completion of contractual documents, and the release of funds; the same sequence may recur in subsequent years if funds are available.

FUNDING OFFER: A proposal by a grant maker, in oral or written form, to award a successful applicant an amount of funding that is less than it had requested; such an offer may occur when the grant-maker either does not allow certain proposed line items in an applicant’s budget or does not have enough funds to fund the project at the full amount requested.

FUNDING PRIORITIES: Project-related factors that grant-makers may use to award extra rating-points to otherwise-qualified applicants. Priorities may also include such non-project factors as geographic distribution of grant awards and the diversity of types of funded applicants. Many federal grant programs announce absolute priorities, competitive priorities, or invitational priorities in their requests for proposals. Also called funding preferences.

GENERAL GRANT: A grant designed to subsidize the organization-wide operating expenses of a worthy applicant rather than to provide support for a specific project or initiative. Also called an operating support grant or an operational grant. Example: Facility rent and utilities.

GRANT: An award of funding for an eligible recipient to do pre-defined activities using pre-defined resources over a pre-defined time-span to achieve pre-defined objectives and advance towards one or more pre-defined goals, but whose outcomes are less certain than those expected from a contract.

GRANT AGREEMENT: A legally binding and enforceable understanding entered into by a grant recipient with a grant maker; it is commonly based on an approved application made by the grant recipient and it commits the grant recipient to implement certain activities and pursue certain objectives, within a pre-defined time-span, for a specific amount of funding. By reference, it may incorporate other municipal or state or federal statutes and regulations beyond those enabling the grant program.

GRANTEE: The organization or individual that receives the grant funds and is responsible for implementing and administering the project and managing the grant funds; it is also called a grant recipient. Also see: Grantor and Sub-grantee.

GRANTOR: The organization (e.g., corporation, foundation, or governmental unit) that awards grants; it is also called the funder, the funding agency, or the grant maker. Also see: Grantee and Sub-grantee.

GRANT PERIOD: The total time-span for which a grant-maker has committed to funding a grant recipient; it may or may not last exactly as long as a budget period or a project period. Also see: Budget Period and Project Period.

GUIDELINES: The instructions that describe what the grant-maker wants to fund, what applications for funding must contain, how applications – including their budgets – must be prepared and submitted, and how proposals will be reviewed. Also see: Request for Proposals.

A later post will cover entries in this glossary starting with letters H –M.

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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