Budget is the most important part of any proposal. The budget depicts a clear picture of all expenditures involved in carrying out a research project. Any research project, right from its very inception, requires several activities involving the financial aspect. Therefore, it becomes necessary to focus on the budget and to ensure that it is clear and all the expenditures proposed are justified. Though, developing a budget is not much tedious task, provided the concepts regarding all expenditures involved are clear.
Components of Budget
To develop a budget, is a step by step procedure. A budget is majorly categorized into four parts viz. Staff, Recurring expenses, non recurring expenses and institutional overhead. Recurring expenses are those which are variable and which keep on occurring throughout the entire project duration. Non recurring expenses are those which are one-time in nature or which do not occur at regular intervals. Various activities or particulars in a budget are categorized in recurring or non recurring expenses. At the end of the budget, a particular amount is provisioned as institutional overhead charges.
The table below depicts a picture of basic layout of a research budget. Changes in the particulars and break up of the duration of study of the budget can, however, be made as per the needs of the study.
While initiating to develop a budget, as per the needs of the project, it is first ascertained how much manpower is needed. The category of personnel i.e. director, assistant director, project associate, project officer, research associate(s), research officer/ fellow(s), field investigator(s), supervisor(s), consultant(s), computer operator, data entry personnel, etc. are to be figured out. It helps in the estimated expenditure on the remuneration of the overall project human resources. The category of personnel to be appointed is shown separately under the ‘staff’ head. A detailed description is also given in terms of their number, tenure of their drawing the remuneration and the amount of monthly remuneration. This is done for all categories of staff. The ascertainment of personnel required to be appointed constitutes a major and most important part of the budget. The number of people to be appointed should be as specific as possible. The monthly remuneration of the project personnel for the entire duration of the project is determined this way.
After the determination of staff, contingencies in terms of recurring and non recurring expenses are drawn. Recurring expenses, as the name itself indicates, are periodic or regular in nature. They include expenditure to be incurred on stationery, telephone, etc. Non recurring expenses frame the next important aspect of the budget. In non recurring expenses, travel forms an integral part as it is the next major expenditure after staff compensation. In the determination of travel expenditure, it is important to calculate the total number of days required for data collection. The expenditure to be incurred on collection of data is calculated as per the number of personnel required to be in field for particular number of days. The travel reimbursements and dearness allowances on per day basis or anything else admissible as per the rules of the organization is also included. Total travel cost is calculated keeping in view these aspects.
Training sessions, workshops, meetings, etc. are also proposed in a new budget. Since such sessions are not a periodic event, they fall in the category of non recurring expenses. Printing charges are also a part of this category as it usually deals with final report printing.
Last segment of the budget is institutional overhead. These overhead charges go directly to the institution carrying out the proposed study. This is provisioned so as to meet several costs on the part of institution such as furniture, electricity and other running costs. The institutional overhead ranges between 6 to 16 percent of the total cost of the project. The range may, however, be flexible on the basis of type of organization, the funding agency or the total cost of the project.
To develop a budget is not a difficult task. The prime and only matter of concern is that concepts regarding all expenditures should be clear and it should define all minute details involved. Detailing of all expenditures not only facilitates the work on the part of fund seeker but it also lets build a better understanding of the donor agency. More transparent the budget, fairer will be the chances of it being accepted.