How To: Make a Program Budget

When creating a new program, the budget is essential for understanding how much money will be needed to launch and maintain the program.  According to the Foundation Center, “… the budget may be a simple one-page statement of projected expenses, or an entire spreadsheet including projected support and revenue and a detailed narrative, which explains various items of expense or revenue”. The budget is a way to tell the program’s story through numbers, in a way that is tangible and concrete to funders, donors, and constituents.


How are you funding this project? Are there going to be multiple funding sources? Will these sources last throughout the program, or will you need to supplement the revenue later on? Revenue can include: Individual Contributions, Grants/Institutional Donors, Program Fees, Membership Revenues, Sponsorships, Special Events Revenues, and Government Contracts. Listing out all of these sources can show that your organization is capable of acquiring multiple sources. To a potential donor or sponsor, it would mean that their investment is worthwhile and sustainable.


Be as detailed and realistic as possible when listing out expenses.  Expenses can include: Staff Salaries, Payroll Taxes, Employee Benefits, Travel, Training/Education – Staff, Meetings & Conferences, Rent and utilities, Insurance, Advertising, Website Development & Service, Public Relations, Telephone/Fax Equipment, Office Furniture, Postage, and Printing. Grantmakers or sponsors want to see whole funding picture; they also want the program to succeed if they invest. Don’t surprise funders with new expenses in the middle of the project.


Good luck!


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