How To Prepare A Budget Narrative / Budget Justification

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How to Prepare a Budget Narrative / Budget JustificationThe budget narrative, sometimes called the budget justification, is a companion to the budget(table, spreadsheet, or forms). While the budget table gives the total cost for each category ofthe budget, the budget narrative gives the item by item breakdown for each category and showsthe calculations used to derive the costs. The budget narrative serves two purposes: it explainshow the costs were estimated, and it justifies the need for the cost. From a funder’s perspective,the budget narrative explains how you will spend its investment and shows that you did yourresearch to ensure that the project costs are reasonable and well thought out.Format and Structure: Read the solicitation for the required format. The funder may request that you attachthe budget narrative as a supplemental document or that you include it as part of thebody of the proposal. The solicitation may also list the budget categories to be used.Present the budget justification in a format that allows a reader to easily assessthe costs in relation to the budget. For instance, if the required budget uses headerssuch as salaries, fringe benefits, and travel, be certain to use the same headers in thebudget justification. This will allow readers to quickly skim the budget and the budgetnarrative to find specific items of cost.Choose a presentation format that fits the needs of the proposal. The format of thebudget narrative may be entirely narrative text, a combination of narrative text andaccompanying tables, or one-line item table with text explanations in the table (seeexamples on subsequent pages). For simple projects, typical of proposals to foundationsand private corporations, an option is to fold the budget narrative into the budget,inserting a brief explanation under each item.General Requirements: The budget narrative must conform to the funder’s specifications. Read thesolicitation for budget constraints and any unacceptable costs. The budget narrative should breakdown costs for each of the major costcategories (ie., salaries, fringe benefits, equipment, travel, supplies, other direct costsand indirect costs), as well as any additional categories required by the sponsor. Describe each line item in the budget and show the calculations used to derive thecosts. The information should be sufficiently detailed to address all sponsor concernswith respect to cost and need. If you don’t know, talk with others who have done similarprojects. Make a plan of how many hours of work will be needed to accomplish a task.Research the cost of equipment, supplies, and other expenses. Expenses should be justified in the context of the proposal. Take care to explainany costs that may be unclear or that may raise questions with the reviewer. For staffpositions, explain what the person in that position will do for the project. For equipment,explain why it is needed and why your choice is better than other, perhaps lessexpensive, options. For activities to be funded, explain why they will benefit participantsand contribute to the project objectives. Explain and justify any unusual items. Justify the use of consultants and subcontractors. Explain what these individuals ororganizations will do and why their work is necessary. They may need a separate budget. Explain how indirect costs were calculated. UVU’s indirect cost rate calculation(currently 38% of salaries, wages and fringe benefits). Each item must correlate to specific activities described in the body of theproposal. No costs should be included in the budget narrative that were not described inthe proposal, and vice versa.UVU Office of Sponsored Programslast updated 4/23/2019

2Tips: Show your work. Reviewers and sponsor administrators should be able to determinehow you arrived at your budget figures.The budget justification serves as the rationale for your costs. Be certain to tie eachcost to the overall project so that readers understand the importance of each cost/item tothe overall project.If (and only if) matching costs or leveraged resources are required, explain wherethese funds or resources will come from. Make certain the budget narrative clearlyshows which budget items will be covered by matching funds or leveraged resourcesand which items by the requested budget. Have another person review this for clarity.Keep your back-up documentation. Sponsors may request estimates for equipmentand other major purchases during a pre-award audit.Make sure the cumulative totals for each category must correlate with the budgettables. If you make changes to the budget, be sure to change the budget narrativeas well.Take time to read the budget, budget justification, and narrative. Do all of theexpenses in the budget appear in the budget justification? Do the budget, budgetjustification, and proposal narrative all align?Do not: Do not list costs that are not being requested for funding, such as costs coveredby the university or a partner. For example, some proposers mention in the budgetnarrative that additional effort not listed in the budget will be provided. In other cases,they indicate that the funds requested are insufficient for the proposed activities and willbe supplemented from other sources. This is considered a cost-sharing commitment,and is not generally allowed. At UVU, cost share is only allowed if it is required by thesponsor and approved by the University. Cost sharing is also not allowed by somefunders, such as NSF. Please consult with OSP Director of Sponsored Research. Don’t give broad estimates of cost, such as 3,000 for travel, 1,000 for supplies, 5,000 for student assistants. Break down and itemize the costs. Explain who will betraveling and where, how much for air travel, ground transportation, hotel, and per diem.Give a specific accounting of the kinds and quantities of supplies needed. Detail howmany student workers, how many hours per week, how many weeks, how much wageper hour. Don’t pad the budget so you will be sure to have enough money. Reviewers know apadded budget when they see one and often use this as a reason to decline a proposal. Don’t assume the reader will understand why a cost is necessary or important.Anticipate the reviewer’s questions and provide detailed answers. Do not wait until the last minute to complete the budget narrative. This sectiontakes time and effort. It is best to complete it hand-in-hand with the budget.Remember:The budget narrative is a vital part of the proposal and is critical in the proposal reviewprocess. Often the reviewers and program officers are not the only ones reading thebudget justification. If a proposal is recommended for funding, many sponsors send theproposal to pre-award auditors who scrutinize the budget carefully and do not allowvague, unjustified budget items. Providing as much detail as possible in the budgetjustification during the submission phase will facilitate a faster pre-award audit and mayavoid having the proposal declined.UVU Office of Sponsored Programslast updated 4/23/2019

Full budget narrative for the first year of a four-year grant. Only the first year is required for this budget narrative. The budget narrative appearson two pages within the proposal narrative. Explanations are given for each line item within the table. Budget forms are also required separately.

Partial budget justification for a three-year NSF scholarship project. Here tables present costs for budget categories and explanatory text follows.The base salary for faculty is given here as requested, but is not expected or allowed for some proposals. Additional tables are used to presentinformation as well. Travel is broken down by costs and potential locations of conferences are given.

Partial budget justification from an NSF grant for research instrumentation. Notice that the equipment pieces are described as well as their needin the research that was set forth in the proposal. The qualifications and responsibilities of the student equipment manager are also described.

Full budget and budget narrative, provided within the proposalnarrative of a small state proposal.Partial budget justification submitted as a separate document for an NIHresearch proposal. In this example, all text is narrative.

Apr 23, 2019 · The budget narrative, sometimes called the budget justification, is a companion to the budget (table, spreadsheet, or forms). While the budget table gives the total cost for each category of the budget, the budget narrative giv

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