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Foundations and other budgets

Need assistance with foundation budgets or other budgets?

Budgets and justifications that accompany proposals to foundations and other funders can vary widely, based on the specific requests of the funder and the call for proposals.  In many cases, little guidance is provided. Regardless of funder, a critical factor in developing any budget is ensuring that you have accurately assessed the financial needs of carrying out the proposed work.  This means that the project idea, with details about implementation, should be mostly fleshed out before determining the budget. 

When building budgets for foundation grants, it is important to:

  • Connect early with your departmental grants and contracts staff, as well as the Office of Foundation Relations (Campus Schools or Provost Area) or the Office of Foundation Relations and Strategic Partnerships at Duke Health (School of Medicine or Nursing)
  • Consider engaging the staff or personnel that will carry out the work to make sure details are not overlooked
  • Consider the line items you may need to carry out the proposed work.  Typically, this includes:
    • Personnel and fringe benefits
    • Travel
    • Conference or events
    • Equipment and supplies 
    • Any in-kind contribution or matching funds
    • Indirect/F&A* rates
  • Be sure to check what can and cannot be covered by the funds. For example, some foundations will not fund tuition remission, capital improvements such as renovations, gift cards, and computers.
  • *Understand the F&A rate. Some sponsors, like foundations, limit or eliminate the F&A rate ordinarily included in a budget. Duke will accept a different rate only when the sponsor has a written policy and the appropriate guidelines are adhered to. The sponsor’s written policy must be provided to ORS or ORA when submitting the proposal for review. Access additional information about F&A rates for sponsored research on the Financial Services website.
  • When creating the budget, also keep in mind that foundations often require eventual financial reporting to align with the original budget.  Many limit over/underspending without permission to 5% of each line.  If the budget is complex, it is best to plan for a complex report.

The "Related Resources" on this page highlight other important tools and resources for developing the budget and associated justification.