Five common budgeting mistakes

Five common budgeting mistakes

By Nell Frizzell 25/10/12

As many of you will have noticed, applying for funding on IdeasTap – including the whopping £30,000 Sky Arts Ignition Futures Fund – often involves drawing up your own budget. So, make sure you avoid these humdingers…

 1. Not including a budget

Pah ha ha ha ha. You guys! Talk about falling at the first hurdle. We’re not just asking for a budget plan for LOLs and LMFAOs, you know. We do need to have some idea of how likely and able you will be to deliver your project before we hand you over the cash.


2. Forgetting VAT 

Curve ball! Don’t worry – bigger people than you have forgotten VAT when budgeting for their project. But you will need to pay 20% on lots of your outgoings. To find out more about VAT, visit the HM Revenue & Customs website.


3. Hiding other funding you’re going to receive 

This isn’t a marriage. We’re not going to kick you out for seeing other people. But if your budget shows that the project is going to cost £8,000 and we’re only giving you £1,000, then you need to tell us where you’re getting the other £7,000. It can be your own money, money in kind, funding from other organisations, sponsorship or whatever, but we need to know so we can check that your budget balances. For more information on funding, check out our funding microsite.


4. Not building in a contingency

A contingency is basically an amount of money – either a percentage of your overall budget, or a lump sum – that you do not touch at all, unless there is a genuine emergency. A fire, flood, crashing-the-van, having-to-move-venue-last-minute kind of emergency. A good percentage is 7.5% to 10% but be realistic about how much money you can raise to cover that contingency in the first place.


5. Hoping we’ll be impressed that you can rebuild the moon for 26p

All funding bodies are more likely to support a realistic and ambitious application than one that promises more than it can probably deliver. So, draw up your dream budget – what you’d do if money were no object. Then, draw up your shoestring budget – if you were doing the project on the smallest amount possible. Then be realistic about what you can do. The best budget for your application is probably somewhere in the middle. We want to see ambition but not at the expense of something actually getting delivered.


And a couple more for free….

Not allowing for wages 

In the words of IdeasTap Partnership Manager Laura McFarlane, “Make sure you’re paying everyone as much as you can and that your budget doesn’t completely rely on volunteers.” We want our funding to help you grow and develop as a sustainable, long-term artist. It’s not a case of spending all the funding in one blow out and going back to square one – you should be thinking about how this funding will help you and your collaborators make money in the future. 

Not accounting for all the funding you’ll receive.

We need to know where it’s going. All of it.


Finally, our Education section actually has a model budget plan for you to use. So use it.


Image: Chico & the Piggy Calculator by Oliver Degabriele on a CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license.

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