Developing an AmeriCorps Budget There are many considerations when it comes to developing a budget, this by no means will incorporate all of the steps you might need to take in order to develop a budget for an AmeriCorps Program. This is intended to provide you with an overview of the process. Each organization is unique with established policies and procedures that guides operations. You need to be sure to follow your organizational policies and processes this is one of the tools you can utilize to help create a budget for your program. This is intended to be a tool to help guide you through the budget development process and provide useful information to help familiarize you with the inputs and considerations. There are several variables that will impact creating a budget to operate an AmeriCorps program. First of all, these programs are funded based on an average cost per member. The number of AmeriCorps members that you are proposing in your program will impact the total dollars that you are able to request from the Corporation. The two components that go into the formula to figure the size of grant that your program will be eligible to apply for and the maximum cost per member, which is set by the Corporation and the number of full time equivalent members (FTE’s) in your program. You will see that included in the annual Program Guidance that is provided by the Corporation each year states the maximum allowable cost per member. You can use this as a ceiling for calculating the amount you will request from the Corporation. The next part of the equation is the number of members your are requesting. Depending on the type of members your program is incorporating you might need to do an additional calculation, you will need to ensure that you have calculated the number of Full-Time- Equivalent (FTE) Members within your program design. You will see a chart included as part of the application package that will list the various options for AmeriCorps members and their corresponding FTE percentage. Now that you have gathered all of the necessary information, you can calculate the maximum grant award that you will be eligible to apply for. All you need to do is multiply the maximum cost per member by the number of FTE’s within your proposed program. Once you have completed this calculation, you will have determined the maximum amount of federal funds allowable for an AmeriCorps program of your size. Note this is the maximum allowable there are many other factors that will impact the eventual amount that you apply for including your program design, community support or organizational resources to name a few. So now that we have a starting point, lets move on to outline the costs of the program. Now that you are aware of how these funds are awarded you can begin to gather a team to help you create your budget. You want to make sure that you are including appropriate people in the budget development process. You should include input from various representatives to gather information and input. Individuals that should be consulted include individuals with program specialties, community partners, fiscal staff and various key staff from your organization. The budget that you are developing will be the financial blue print that you will operate and outline in dollars how you are utilizing Community Service and AmeriCorps as a strategy to address your community needs. There is a budget outline included as part of the application process that will help you organize the information in the required format. This format will also help you create the required budget narrative. The narrative is simply the description of how you arrived at the amount you are included in the budget. For example, for travel expenditures you can include the estimated number of miles to be traveled and the rate employees will be reimbursed. You can begin the process by listing all of the costs necessary to carryout the program design you have described in your narrative. The types of things you will need to consider in creating your budget include: member training and supervision, community partnerships and outreach, service activities, program supplies and staffing. As you progress through the development of your budget, you want to make sure that you have captured the costs of all of the programmatic activities that you intend to carry out. Your budget should be sufficient to carry out all of the program objectives outlined in the narrative. There should be sufficient staff to manage daily activities, conduct community outreach, develop and maintain partnerships, manage, train and supervise members. Even if these some of the necessary duties to carry out your program are not done by staff of your organization and are performed by program partners, they should be included as part of your budget. You also want to identify other costs relating to the operational side of your program including occupancy expenses, program and office supplies, and travel costs. There are also specific costs relating to the type of service you are performing and you should include those costs as well. In this phase of the process you want to make sure that you are including only direct costs for your program. Direct costs are those that are directly related to the operation of your program. They are commonly referred to as reasonable and necessary to carry out your stated goals and operations. Indirect costs, commonly known as administrative costs are those that are general or centralized to overall administration of an organization and are not included as particular project costs. The Corporation restricts the amount of administrative costs that an organization can include in the federal share of the budget and there are two options to calculate the matching share. You should work with individuals from your fiscal department that can help to provide accurate cost estimates. They will be about to help you to get an idea of the staff and benefit costs, organizational operational costs, historical and cost projections that will allow you to create an accurate fiscal projections of how your program is going to operate. They should also be knowledgeable about indirect costs and can help you complete the final section of your budget, Administrative/Indirect costs. They will also be able to tell you if your organization has a negotiated indirect cost rate. At this point, you should have identified all of the costs associated with your program design; it is now time to allocate the expenditures to the federal and grantee shares. You will need to identify available existing resources, organization and community commitment. You want to meet with program and community partners to assess available resources that you can use to meet the required share of funds that you must use to match. In conducting this assessment you should identify both cash and in-kind sources of match. In-kind donations are non-cash donations of goods or services and can be included as part of the grantee share of the program as long as they are properly documented. Some of the issues to consider when allocating funds to either grantee share or federal share are other funding sources within your organization, cash- flow issues, available grantee for certain expenses, community resources, availability in-kind donations, and partnering organizations. It is a good idea to go through the budget by individual line item and allocate the costs between grantee and federal shares discussing the individual items based on the issues noted above. Note that there are minimum amounts of match that program must meet, but there are no maximums. Programs are encouraged to not only meet, but to exceed the minimum amounts listed.