When planning a project and applying for funding, a clear proposal and realistic budget is a must. A good budget will help you to think through all aspects of your project, and prevent you from running at a loss.

Put the fun back into funding applications by following our stress-free guide to budgeting:

1) Choose appropriate budget headings

All budgets will differ in their content, depending on the individual project or artist. However, the basic principle remains the same; covering everything you expect to spend money on in one chart, balanced against all aspects of potential income in another chart.


Headings will vary depending on the nature of your work, but here are some common examples:


Could include...


Wages you pay yourself or colleagues

Professional/technical fees

Recording / video production costs

Venue hire

Rental of studio or performance space

Travel costs

Train fares, petrol costs


Costs of any materials essential to your project such as music hire


Purchase or hire of essential equipment


Project manager, office space, postage, photocopying, telephone, insurance, etc.


Photography, design/production of programmes, leaflets, etc.

Research and development

Money invested in project development period


Funding panels are usually happy for you to factor some contingency into the budget to account for the unexpected – usually 5-10% of the total cost of the project.

Total expenditure

At the bottom of your expenditure column, the total figure of all outgoing money for your project.


It is likely that you will be applying to a funding body for a proportion of your overall costs of your project. The funding body will want to see where any remaining funding is coming from. 

Headings will vary depending on the nature of your work, but here are some common examples:


Could include...


Income from funding bodies, local authorities or trusts, including ‘matched funding’ 

Earned income

Revenue from ticket sales, merchandise, workshop, talk fees etc


Income from individuals, organisations or companies to assist the project, without expecting a return on their contribution.


Income from selling advertising space in your programme / flyers

Sponsorship / donations in-kind

The value of services or materials provided to your product, that are given without charge, e.g. workshop time, studio space, materials or free advertising. 

NB as in-kind goes in as income and comes out as an expense at the same amount, and it may take time to determine its value, it is helpful to separate out the in-kind budget.

Total income

At the bottom of your income column, the total figure of all money that you predict your project will earn.

2) Show your workings

The funding panel will want to understand where you got your figures from. Research your costs in advance and provide a good amount of detail. This might include the fee for an engineer, the day rates for hiring a studio, or the monthly rate for a PR manager.

3) Pay yourself

Planning and fundraising for a project takes time! It is important to work out what your time is worth at the beginning of the project, and to factor this into your budget. Don’t risk under-budgeting and dipping into your personal finances. If the project is your primary source of income, you may want to calculate your time as a percentage of a reasonable annual salary. Alternatively, you could calculate your time as a percentage of the overall expenditure (usually 15%-25%) within administration/overheads.

4) Don't undersell yourself or your collaborators

Don’t be tempted to reduce costs here in the hope of creating a favourable impression. The funding panel will want to see that everyone is being paid fairly, and that your budget is realistic. If you are including musicians’ fees or paying yourself a performance fee as part of your budget, Musicians Union rates are a useful place to start. 

5) Does it balance?

If, when completed, your total expenditure for your project matches your total income for the project, you are probably on the right track!

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