What Do Funders Look For In Grant Proposal Budgets?

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By Tracy Kaufman

Demonstrating credibility is one of the most important factors in a grant proposal. You may be surprised to learn that the budget in your proposal plays an important role in illustrating your organization’s credibility. Many funders look at your budget first, even before they read the narrative of your proposal. In this short video, I share how your proposal budget adds credibility to your application.

Opening shot showing Candid and the video title, What do funders look for in proposal budgets?


Hi. I’m Tracy Kaufman, programs manager at Candid. I’m here with some basic advice on budgets.

If you write grant proposals, two qualities that funders love to see radiate out from their grant proposals, above all else, are credibility and impact.

Another thing about funders that not everyone realizes, if you ask a funder which part of the proposal they read first, many of them are going to say it’s the budget.

This is because, if the budget is doing its job right, it explains with instant crystal clarity the components and mechanics of the project, what’s required to make the project happen, and how much support you’ve already secured to make it happen, versus how much you’re currently asking for.

Your budget can be a powerful tool to illustrate credibility and impact, those same two qualities that funders want to see above all else in a grant proposal.

Let’s talk specifically about credibility. If your numbers don’t add up or pieces of the project are conspicuously missing from the budget, that can suggest that you may not fully understand how the project really works. But, if the budget is complete, easy to understand, and the numbers make sense, you are demonstrating credibility.

Also, if the income side of your budget shows that you’re funding the project with a decent variety of diversified revenue sources, that is helpful, too.

Funders usually do not want to see you fully reliant on them for support. They want to see your project as sustainable, with a variety of supporters throwing their resources behind it.

Having the enthusiastic support of multiple funders or donors makes you look extremely credible, and that support will in turn help you to create a bigger impact.

If you want to spend a little more time thinking about your proposal budgets, Candid has a self-paced, online course on the subject called Creating a Sound Proposal Budget. It’s newly updated with fresh material, it’s only $30, and it can help. Good luck!

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