Writing a Budget Justification and Narrative

March 26, 2024

In this video, we are going to be talking about the Budget Justification and Narrative required as part of application to Northeast SARE’s Farmer, Partnership, or Graduate Student Research grant programs.

The Budget Justification and Narrative template is available at: https://northeast.sare.org/wp-content/uploads/Northeast_SARE_2024_Budget_Justification_and_Narrative_Template_Farmer_GradStudent_Partnership.xlsx

The sample used in this video is available at: https://northeast.sare.org/samplebudget

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Here are five best practices to keep in mind while you are completing your budget justification and narrative.

Let the spreadsheet do the work – Northeast SARE’s Budget Justification and Narrative Template has expenses separated by type and built-in formulas to calculate totals. This document has been designed to help you think about all of the different types of expenses that your proposed grant project requires. The “Narrative Justification of Expense” column is your opportunity to show reviewers how each expense is going to contribute to the success of your project.

Be specific – Reviewers want to know that you have fully considered the expenses you will encounter over the course of your project. Think about all the specific people, places, and things that will be necessary to make your project a success. How much time will those people need to spend? What items will they use (and how many)? And where is the work going to take place? While a grant can be used to purchase or fabricate a piece of equipment that would not be used during the regular course of business, Northeast SARE funds cannot be used to make capital purchases of land or generic farming equipment. However, they can be used to rent those resources if they are necessary for your project. Some grantees have even worked with equipment companies on lease-to-own arrangements, using rental fees to reduce the cost of purchasing equipment after the project has concluded. At this time, we can’t offer any support in setting up that kind of arrangement. But it was a clever solution created by a grantee and we love to share those!

Work together – Invite the people you are planning on working with to help you complete your budget. In addition to ensuring that all of the expenses are considered and presented to reviewers, working together on the budget can build collaborative momentum ahead of starting a project.

Recognize your (and your team’s) value – Northeast SARE is committed to promoting abundance over scarcity. Our reviewers know that grant projects are most sustainable when everyone involved is being appropriately compensated for their time. You should feel empowered to budget a comfortable amount of time for you and your staff to complete your work, and to offer wages that are in line with how important sustainable agriculture is to the long-term health of our communities. For example, Northeast SARE reviewers are currently compensated at a rate of $50/hr.

Contact us – Northeast SARE Grant Administrators are here to support you throughout your project. They are happy to answer any questions you might have about completing your Budget Justification and Narrative Template, and work with grantees during projects to make any reallocations for unexpected or changing expenses.

Related Locations: Northeast