Incubator Budget Tips

Tips for Preparing a Budget

You’ve got a great idea for a project, but when it comes time to talk about money, maybe you feel a little lost. Trust us, you’re not alone. Here are some things to keep in mind when submitting a budget with your application.

A complete budget has income AND expenses.

We see a lot of budgets that are only a list of what a project needs to spend to get things off the ground. It makes sense- thinking about how you’ll spend money can be easier to figure out (and, let’s face it, often a lot more fun) than thinking about where that money might come from, but it’s only half the picture. We need to know you’ve thought about income, too. Usually, income and expenses should be equal. If not, there should be a short explanation of a surplus or deficit.

The most common sources of income are:

Grants
Grants are non-repayable funds disbursed by a foundation or corporation in support of your project. Usually a specific proposal or application is required. The most common grant programs for projects in our Incubator program are from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council: mrac.org

Individual cash donations
With a fiscal sponsorship, friends, family, and other supporters can make donations to your project through the sponsor and write them off on their taxes.

In-Kind donations
In-Kind donations are gifts not of money, but of goods and services. You can include the value of these contributions on a budget because they’ll offset the amount of cash you’ll need to raise.

Earned income
Anything you sell to your audience for cash is called earned income. This includes ticket sales, merchandise, workshop fees, and sometimes membership dues.

Don’t forget about us!

It’s surprising how often Springboard’s administrative fees are not included in the list of a project’s expenses. Make entries for the application fee and our 7% – they’re a cost of doing business.

Break it out.

Generally speaking, more information is better than not enough. You might have a good idea of all the things that included in that $20,000 line called “Misc”, but the selection committee member won’t.

Be ambitious, but reasonable.

Budgets are best guesses. Most fiscally sponsored projects are new, and making accurate guesses can be difficult even if you have past years of financials to go on! Even if you’ve never written a grant before, you’re smart, creative, and awesome. A project grant is completely within reach. But – a brand-new organization with no experienced personnel looking to fund five full-time salaries the first year? We love being proven wrong, but it’s just not as likely.

Budget Templates

This is a simplified budget spreadsheet you can fill in with your own values:
Simple Example Budget (PDF)
Simple Example Budget (Excel)

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