Finances: Money, Budget, and Taxes

Project Budgets

Project Budgets

Many funding organizations require a project budget as part of their grant applications, but creating one is easier said than done. We know that accounting for the unknown can be a daunting task, but there are ways to structure and plan a budget that make it less about guesswork and more about smart planning. (source: Creative Capital)


Tips for Crafting an Effective Budget courtesy of Fresh Arts and Julia Barbosa Landois

1. Know the Guidelines

As with your project narrative, the first step to crafting an effective budget is to familiarize yourself with the grant guidelines. Some awards are relatively unrestrictive while others may have very specific guidelines for use of funds. For example, the funder may stipulate that money may not be used for travel or the purchase of equipment. Some grants require matching funds from other sources, which means they will not fund the entire budget for the project and want you to list your other funding sources (both pending and secured). Other grants require applicants to have non-profit status or to be fiscally sponsored by a 501(c)(3) public organization. Make sure you’re clear on the funder’s expectations before you begin crunching the numbers.

2. Research, Research, Research

Research is essential to composing the most accurate budget possible for your project and projecting how likely it is that you will receive funding from a particular source. Start with the granting institution to whom you will apply. Do they award set amounts, or do grants occur within a wide range? How many projects did they fund in the last cycle and how much was each project awarded? Read about these other projects. Does your project have a similar scope and budget as the ones this organization has funded in the past?

Next, spend some time researching all of your expenses. Your budget won’t be set in stone – grant administrators know that unexpected changes may come up during the course of the grant period – but they do want to know that you are both professional enough to accurately estimate costs and responsible enough to spend the money wisely.

Expense categories may include:

  • Your artist fee – Don’t forget to pay yourself for all of your time and hard work! *See more
  • information about calculating this fee below.
  • Collaborators – Others should be paid for their labor, too. *See below.
  • Fabrication – Do you need to have something constructed, programmed, or composed? Get a
  • quote and add it to the budget.
  • Travel and/or meals, for you and your collaborators
  • Supplies
  • Rented equipment
  • Marketing – project website fees, paid ads, printed matter, postcard postage, etc.
  • Shipping – transport costs for your art, musical instruments, etc.
  • Documentation – photo, video, and/or sound recording of your final event, exhibition, or performance, for your own portfolio and possibly for the granting agency

Need more help on developing a Project Budget?

Fresh Arts Project Budgeting Toolkit is coming soon!


In the meantime, our friends at Creative Capital have complied a downloadable overview with tips and examples.

More Resources

BalanceCareers: Easy Steps to Create a Project Budget

More samples and articles coming soon!