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Design First, Budget Later

Posted on January 15, 2009

Decide what you want to do before you decide on how much money to ask for, advises Courtney Ferrell Aklin (bio).


There really isn't a great blanket answer for putting together a proposal and a budget for your proposal. Essentially, what you want to do is set a budget that's actually going to allow you to complete what it is you want to do.

The last thing we want to see is actually a high budget that really doesn't seem to fit what it is you're proposing, so that's one way. Then the other way is we've seen individuals who are thinking, "Well, maybe if I come in a little bit lower, they won't really think too much about it and I'll have an easier time getting in." That's not really true, either.

So what we say, "Err on the side of, figure out what you want to do first and then handle the budget," because if you try to go budget only, ultimately you're going to set yourself up for failure. Quite honestly, in this day and age, if it's a tight proposal, if it's something that interests you, if it's something that makes sense, the budget is there, so think about what you want to do first, budget later.

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Excerpted from interview with researcher at the 2008 Leadership Training Institute in Bethesda, MD.


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