Jane Geever, author of The Foundation Center's Guide to Proposal Writing, conducted interviews with a number of grantmakers and found that many do, in fact, consider the budget to be the best way to get a feel for the project without a lot of verbiage and hype. When asked the question, "How do you usually read a grant request?" here's what some of the respondents had to say:
"I look at the budget. Over the years I've learned that narrative can be enriching, but the numbers are stark and straightforward. I want to see that the money is doing the job described in the proposal."
W.K. Kellogg Foundation
"I skip around the document in the following way: first the budget, to see if the request is appropriate and to see the agency's financials; then the project section, to see what they want to accomplish; then the board list."
The Pittulloch Foundation, Inc.
"I often look at the budget and then read the proposal backwards."
The Henry Luce Foundation, Inc.