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i.e. When is a project real?

Funds are active when the formal Agreement paperwork (e.g. Contract, Commitment to Collaborate or MOU with pay schedule) is signed by all partners and processed by the Division, Advancement, Business Office—with a categorized Budget attachment.

  • Does each party clearly state and understand their responsibilities/intellectual properties/scope/deliverables?
  • Have you incorporated Timelines and Overhead?
  • Have you incorporated Professional Documentation rates and scheduling a few rounds of post-production reviews+edits?
  • What other Reporting is required by your sponsor?
  • Special notes for grants: see Budgeting Principals part 2


Pledged funding is not considered cash on-hand for immediate purchasing. Advancement helps shape an Agreement up to business standards, then the sponsor’s payment must reach the CCA Finance department for processing into an accounting code before work can start. Until then, funds are not available to spend against. We know that this is not always possible and may work with Advancement and Finance on exceptions to spend against a pledge for reimbursement grants, multi-year and corporate gifts.


The level of detail required for final reporting will vary sponsor to sponsor. Fundamentals that apply to all projects:

I. Budget timelines should be planned (+reconciled) along the July 1-June 30 Fiscal Year to match CCA’s nonprofit tax reporting/audit cycle.

II. Workday processes+reports fall under Payroll or Purchasing, which have different departmental approvals—categorize expenses accordingly.

  • Spend Categories also have audit and insurance implications.
    • Use the IRS-compliant Workday spend categories.
    • If you have a multi-phase/multi-year project, create multiple columns per phase/year aligned across spend categories.
    • (A common scenario is a Work Study in Fall graduating in Spring who then needs to be rehired as a Temp/Contractor: different spend category => different tax documentation + department approval.)
  • Labor
    • Faculty on stipend or hourly work study students are considered CCA employees, hired via Human Resources, paid via Payroll.
    • Independent contractors or Research Fellows (who are not regular employees/students at CCA) will appear in the purchasing expense Actuals report.
    • Student v. non-student Temp hires have very specific classifications; assignments they are allowed to be tasked with depend on an individual’s status and nature of work. Be sure assistant job descriptions are accurately scoped.
  • Indirect Costs for industry sponsored engagements, standard rate 35%, covers administrative overhead for the partnered projects.
    • Some variances for community nonprofits or public agencies may be stipulated by the organization's policy, commonly 10% for government grants, for example.

III. Use our provided budget templates, which have called out the most common spend categories, to feed real-time data from all activities into an account Overview.

IV. Each project lead is responsible for ensuring all participants (including faculty co-leads and students) share the practice of tracking expenses.

  • To support the exploratory process of sponsored projects, multiple open POs may Encumber credit lines that together exceed the project budget. This creates a risk of Actual expenses maxing out funds and suspending the project midway.
  • Set regular in-class team planning+housekeeping blocks to ensure all parties are in conversation about budget.

V. Periodic reconciliation is required for all projects in order to provide up-to-date shadow budgets that reflect the Business Office / Workday Actuals.

  • Variable shipping+handling, surge rates, and rush charges from creative direction changes all make the working/shadow budget figures an inexact document.
  • Thus we also recommend budgeting for a contingency of 10%.

We have designed a series of orientation trainings and check-ins to help with these nuances of your project budget upkeep and make it part of your students’ project management experience.

: please use the Checklist and Touchpoints tools to start a conversation with your faculty. Your budget documents will have three iterations—this introduction covers the Proposal:

  • Budget versions/phases: PROPOSAL > PRODUCTION > RECONCILIATION

When an engagement is confirmed, schedule a pre-planning session with your Project Manager to get familiar with Purchasing and Budgeting for active projects.