Purpose of Budget Justification

by Wanda Thibodeaux

A budget justification is an essential part of a proposal you submit with a funding application. It details each of the expenses included in the project budget. Budget justification may seem redundant to an applicant who thoroughly explains his project scope and purpose elsewhere in the proposal, but it serves a number of practical purposes that make it well worth the applicant's time and effort.

Convincing the Reviewer

When evaluating a proposal, a reviewer's job is to determine whether the project is worth funding and whether it meets the guidelines of the potential sponsor. The reviewer may receive dozens of proposals from writers who are competing for the same funds. A sponsor will accept only the best projects due to funding constraints. A budget justification convinces the reviewer and others who might read the proposal that each item included in the budget is important to the project. This shows the reviewer that you have seriously considered the methodology you've selected, and you have thought out the details of what you intend to do. Sponsors are more likely to fund applicants who demonstrate this level of project consideration.

Clarity, Normal Practices and Expertise

Even though reviewers often have a great deal of knowledge in the area of the project being considered, how you choose to approach a project might deviate from previous work by others. This is not necessarily bad, as innovation and creativity may lead to a better project outcome. However, it means that you must clarify why you've included expenses outside the norm or why you've calculated certain expenses in particular ways. Otherwise, the reviewer might not believe you understand customary practices or have the expertise to complete the project for which you are requesting funds.


In the pursuit of funding for a project, an applicant may be tempted to pad the budget a bit. This is not necessarily dishonest or unscrupulous -- the applicant may simply want to ensure the best equipment will be available for the project. Even so, the best equipment might not be necessary to complete a project; often, the work can be completed using tools that are not the absolute top-of-the-line. Thus, budget justification affords the applicant an opportunity to self-assess the validity of the funds being requested.

Project Attachment

When an applicant submits a simple line-item budget with no justification, it sometimes is difficult for the reviewer to keep that budget straight from other submissions, particularly if several projects are similar. When you include a justification, however, you make a case for your specific project items and therefore attach the costs you've outlined to specific goals, objectives and methodologies.

About the Author

Wanda Thibodeaux is a freelance writer and editor based in Eagan, Minn. She has been published in both print and Web publications and has written on everything from fly fishing to parenting. She currently works through her business website, Takingdictation.com, which functions globally and welcomes new clients.

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