How-to: Making a Budget


So you’re done writing your proposal… now you need to know how much it costs to implement all this stuff. A budget! First step: open an excel document or a google sheet! Or, scroll to the bottom of this guide and download the google sheet made available therein!

Setting up a budget is, just like writing a proposal, part art and part science. In order to do so, you need to have a good sense of what kind of project you’re running, how long you plan to run it for, and what costs you’ll incur launching and sustaining this project. If you’re going to launch a social center, how much is rent? How much will it cost you to decorate and furnish the place? If you’re launching a food distribution program, how much do cookers and pots cost? What about the food inputs you’ll be using to cook?

First, decide what your big spending items will be. Are you and the rest of the core team salaried? Do volunteers receive a stipend? Personnel costs are usually a large item, if not the largest, in an NGO’s budget. Are you renting apartments for personnel to live in, cars for transportation? Which items do you need to buy in order to sustain your programming?

Once you’ve made a decision on what you’ll be spending money on, start lumping them into categories. It will help (and, equally importantly, make you look more professional) if you divide costs into fixed costs and variable costs (see our annotated template for explanations on what this means). Make other categories: personnel costs, transportation, inputs, communications, etc…

Are you allergic to math? Do you think spreadsheets are where your imagination and creativity goes to die? If so… you’re not alone. The truth is, however, spreadsheets are great! Do you know why? Because they do the math for you! Now, the best way to learn how to use the formulas is for someone to show you in a hands-on way… We offer you the next best thing: descriptions and pre-entered formulas in our guide and sample document!

Click here to download an annotated visual guide to preparing a budget.

Please be aware that you are only able to VIEW the document. If you want to manipulate the data or adapt the spreadsheet, you will need to make a copy. You can so do by hitting ‘File,’ scrolling down to ‘Make a Copy,’ and then you’ll have your own version.

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