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  • Writer's pictureSJ Baublitz

Ask a Boss: Budgeting at the Concept Stage

Sharing our next letter in Ask a Boss for your reading enjoyment! Do you have a question about business development and navigating your tricky workplace scenarios that you'd like to see answered in a future column? Submit via our anonymous form or email your question to We may lightly edit your submissions whether to remove identifying information or for clarity.

Dear Bid Boss,

Solve a team argument for us. If the donor first asks for a concept note or EOI with only a summary budget or budget total, do we still need to prepare a detailed budget?

-- No Busy Work


Dear Busy Work,

It’s tempting to think that an opportunity that starts as a concept or EOI means we get to do less work at this stage (donors play into this by often providing less time for this phase). Go into creation assuming you will win and that you will eventually need to create the full proposal and budget, and you will actually save yourself time later by doing these steps now. And if you’re not that confident, do not waste time on the concept note, either.

By kicking the full budget “can” down the road, you are lining yourself up for a future pitfall. Imagine saying you do a particular concept for a certain total cost, then later building out the related activities and detailed budget and learning it will cost 40% more than you thought. You’re stuck either modifying the project significantly or having to go back to the donor with a very different budget total (if that’s something your donor would even allow).

TL;DR: Yes, but future you will thank you.

To your better bids,


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