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What is Reasonable and Allowable?

Ensure that the expenses in your grant application make sense and are consistent with your proposal.


There are so many factors that go into a successful grant application. I have talked about overall grant readiness. I have talked about gathering the statistics necessary for a successful application. I have shared tips about how partnerships can strengthen your grant application.

What about understanding the proposed expenses and the story that the numbers tell and if they are reasonable and allowable?

It is one thing to have a quote from a vendor that you are comfortable putting into a budget as it has the correct equipment, the correct quantity of each equipment item and the math for the extended price all adds up.

It is another to have a quote that tells a story that is in alignment with the narrative you are writing and submit. Your budget tells a story by itself as does your narrative. By themselves, the budget might look flawless and the narrative might read well. Put them together and there might be a disagreement between the two.

For example, do the number of SCBA units requested match the number of seated riding positions for your fire department? Or does the number of radio units requested match the number of ambulances and support vehicles? The cost proposed is necessary for the project outlined as it critical to purchase the equipment for the safety of the emergency professionals. Furthermore, the individual unit cost of the proposed SCBA units or radio units may be reasonable, but the number being requested is not.

How do you ensure that your budget and your narrative responses and department statistics are telling the same story? Review them for consistency. Ask a colleague to review the draft application with that specific consistency as the focus of their review. Ask yourself, would a “prudent person” (a key term in the federal government’s Uniform Grant Guidance standards) find the expenses to be reasonable?

Reasonable and allowable costs are only a small portion of Uniform Grant Guidance (UGG). If you are asking yourself what UGG is, I’d suggest you take a few minutes to read through my previous post, “Does Uniform Grant Guidance Impact Us.”

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