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Developing a federal grant budget

A well researched and fully developed budget will go a long way to getting your grant application awarded

By Sarah Wilson

When developing a grant, you must determine the cost of the project or equipment and present it to the funder. It is all about the details. Read the request for proposal fully and carefully to assure that the grant you are considering will actually pay for the project and its supporting needs.

Once you have developed your grant project, you must apply a cost to everything that project requires full implementation. For example, if you are going to purchase a piece of equipment for the department with the grant funding, you must think through all of the related costs for the acquisition, use and sustainability of that equipment. The cost of the entire project may not be fully paid for by the funding source but it is your responsibility as the grant writer to calculate the actual total cost of the project. This will allow you and your chief to understand the department’s financial commitment to the project.

Below is a list of sample of all the budget categories to consider when purchasing equipment:

• Personnel time: manage/implement/order/process/install/test/report
• Personnel Benefits
• Actual equipment cost
• Equipment peripherals/cables/other supplies
• Reponder’s time for training on use of equipment
• Additional responder’s time to replace the one in training
• Trainer fees/travel/per diem/other
• Indirect costs rate
• Training supplies
• Any Increase in insurance coverage
• Future maintenance costs/licenses/parts/upgrades
• Leases
• Evaluation systems
• Accounting systems
• Phase-down costs

Although the degree of detail each funder requires differs greatly, as well as well as the types of allowable costs which can be paid for by each grant, the total project cost is critical for the police department to be able to understand and calculate the department’s full financial commitment to the project. Your detailed list will assure that you have covered all of the things needed to complete the equipment purchase and implementation. Your application may only pay for the cost of the equipment but the total budget is significantly higher when you look at total project cost.

The more grants your department has received, the higher the cost to the department’s budget for those things which have been designated as an in-kind contribution or as a required financial match given under the in-kind category. Many departments offer personnel time as in-kind. That time not paid for by the grant can be a considerable dollar amount. If personnel time is included as in-kind or a match for the multiple grants the total departmental financial commitment could be substantial!

All salaries must be comparable to those within the department. You cannot hire a new person or shift an existing person into a grant funded position which pays a much higher rate than if you would have hired them under you existing budget. If it is a new hire, you must demonstrate that you have existing space and equipment for that person or include it in the budget either as your contribution to the project or if allowable, must be attributed to the funder’s costs for the project.

A well researched and fully developed budget will go a long way to getting your grant application awarded. It is a suggested first step in developing any grant proposal!

Sarah Wilson is the Vice President of the Grant Division at Lexipol. She has been with the company since 2007 and started the Grant services division in 2009. The mission of Lexipol is to use content and technology to create safer communities and empower the men, women and organizations that serve them. Sarah’s team is responsible for generating nearly $500M in funding and currently servicing a network of 60k departments and municipalities for grant help as well as supporting 60 corporate sponsors. Prior to Lexipol, Sarah held various marketing and organizational management positions within financial services. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of California at Davis. A west coaster her entire life, Sarah was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, raised in Southern California and currently calls Sonoma County home.