Factsheet: Project Budgeting


Allocating precious resources appropriately is fundamental to project success. Planning and implementing your budget is at the core of good project management. The following brings together some key lessons learned from previous UNDEF projects.





Key lessons:


Project Scope

  • Be realistic about what can be achieved within available resources. Trying to do too much with too many beneficiaries in too many locations compromises the quality of planning and delivery.

Limit geographic scope to reduce travel costs

The project travel budget was high because of the widely dispersed geographic areas that were selected. The high travel budget took away resources from the NGO micro-projects and concrete corporate social responsibility field activities and therefore reduced the project’s impact.

From Project: Strengthening Local NGOs in Areas Where Extractive Industries Operate


Budget Planning & Implementation

  • Focus budget allocation on activities that are relevant to address the project’s main issues and that will deliver concrete results, for example field activities and micro-projects responding to immediate needs, as well as impact-generating advocacy and communication. Avoid expensive international travel and conference participation arrangements.
  • Prepare for external factors and adjust plans to respond, for example if certain project components turn out to take up too many resources, seek approval to reallocate unspent funds to reinforce other components.
  • Embed a monitoring, evaluation and learning system in the project design and reserve an appropriate budget portion to support it.

Focus budget on project activities

The project was efficiently managed and the budget was appropriately allocated. The grantee proved to be highly committed to delivery of results: 80 per cent of the budget was allocated to project activities, with a minimum amount on overheads.

From Project: Judicial Reform: empowering magistrate-civil society collaboration for Guinea’s new democratic future


Small grants to local partners can enhance buy-in of the project

The project might have benefited from a small grants scheme. Interviewees at the local level regretted that there had been no provisions for a small grants process in the project design. Such a process might have indeed helped enhance the relevance of the multi-stakeholder dialogues at local level, and communities’ buy-in in the project, as a result of the availability of funds to take immediate action.

From Project: Empowering Local CSOs in Yemen through Participation in Local Governance


Project Staff

  • Resources used for experienced, local staff working on grassroots activities are usually a better use of funds than headquarters staff and external consultants. Hiring local staff also addresses possible language and literacy issues when working with the project’s target population and thus avoids the need for additional, costly, services.
  • Relying extensively on volunteer resources may compromise the quality of results

Money spent on international travel and meetings reduces local impact

Too much money was spent on travel and meetings so the amount available for in-country for advocacy activities was reduced. This might have accounted for the high number of planned in-country activities that were not implemented. Additional funds spent in-country would have leveraged what the project achieved and, by increasing impact, would have increased efficiency as well.

From Project: Promoting the African Charter on Democracy, Elections, and Governance


Project Legacy & Sustainability

  • Budget sufficient resources to maintain a continuing relationship between the project and its beneficiaries and other partners
  • Do not make the project a purpose in itself: define it as part of a strategy, and identify a range of possible funding sources and budget ahead of time to achieve short, medium, and long term objectives.