Key Actions by:

Standard 3: Accurate and cost-efficient proposal budgeting.

Develop an accurate and cost-efficient proposal budget including a budget narrative based on project activities and timeline, and in accordance with CRS policies and donor requirements.

Develop a detailed budget and budget narrative in line with the project activities schedule and staffing plan, and adjust as needed.

  • Why

    The proposal development team starts preparing the detailed budget and budget narrative early in the design process in parallel with initial activities scheduling and development of the project staffing plan. This early budget helps refine the project financial picture, providing clearer parameters for programming and staffing decisions following initial “back of the envelope” estimates and preliminary budget calculations. Refining this early budget to create a final detailed budget and budget narrative:

    • Ensures adequate and reasonable budgeting for all activities proposed.
    • Enables accurate analysis of program to administration costs as well as other financial issues that CRS and donors must consider.
  • Who

    • Primary responsible: Proposal budget lead
      • The proposal budget lead is responsible for preparing the detailed budget and budget narrative. 

    • Others involved: Proposal coordinator; other proposal development team members (e.g., technical, MEAL, and human resources leads); finance manager (FM), if not the budget lead; head of operations (HoOps); country representative (CR) and senior management team (SMT); partner budget lead(s); proposal decision-maker; regional finance officer (RFO); IDEA staff.
      • The proposal coordinator assists with ensuring the budget development process is coordinated with other project design and proposal development steps;
      • Proposal development team members, particularly the technical lead, human resources lead, MEAL lead, and supply chain and ICT staff provide budget inputs for their areas of expertise;
      • The FM and HoOps provide shared cost and unit cost information;
      • Each partner budget lead provides partner budget inputs;
      • The proposal decision-maker approves the budget and budget narrative;
      • The RFO and IDEA staff provide advice as necessary, including related to any budgets developed for contract funding mechanisms. 

    Budget development roles in different proposal scenarios: Roles for budget (a.k.a. “cost application”) development vary by the nature of the opportunity. For larger proposals with complex budgets and budget narratives, it may facilitate the process to identify a budget narrative writer in addition to the budget lead, as the two tasks often require different skill sets. For multi-country or headquarters-led proposal development processes, there may be an overall budget lead plus country-level budget leads; the overall proposal coordinator ensures the country program budget lead is linked to counterparts in other countries and the overall proposal budget lead.