Putting it all together: Developing a Budget


It’s critical to plan for recruitment at the pre-award phase. To be successful in fulfilling recruitment goals, it is essential to build in sufficient recruitment funds in the grant budget. Below, we'll demonstrate an example recruitment plan and budget for a new weight loss study. 

Getting Started

First, we'll use the tips in the Getting Started Video to look at our study protocol and estimate our screen fail rate.

Weight loss study: Sample recruitment plan and budget

Study Details:

  • Target Enrollment: 50 participants
  • Recruitment Period: 6 months
  • 3 Month Intervention
  • Visit Schedule: Screening, Baseline, Month 1 and Month 3.
  • Eligibility Criteria: Women, 45-65 years old, BMI greater than 25 kg/m2, non-diabetic, no history of cardiovascular disease.

Based on previous experience with a similar study, we estimate we’ll have to screen 8 women to find 1 eligible. To find our 50 participants, that means we will have talk to at least 400 women who are interested in participating. 

Finding our participants

Next we need to determine how to find these women. Using the tips in the Finding Your Participants video, we make a plan that considers the eligibility criteria and target population. In this scenario, the study population in this scenario is not highly targeted, and a range of women will fit the eligibility criteria.  We’ll want to plan for multiple methods so we can evaluate and adjust our effort as you evaluate your progress.  To create the recruitment plan and budget, we’ll include a mix of methods to make sure we have enough strategies and resources to find our participants. In our example we’re going to select four recruitment methods to reach our 400 interested women.

Print Material:

The study team can put together basic print material for recruitment and post the materials on and off campus. If we consistently post and repost flyers in high traffic areas, we may receive a couple a calls a week. In this example, we want to post and replenish flyers at 20 locations on and off campus, so we’ll plan to print 200 flyers. We will create a 4-color flyer on quality glossy paper and print it at a local office supply store at $0.64 per print.  

Total for Print Material: 20 locations X 200 fliers X $.64 = $128  

Social Media:

We want to promote the study at a steady pace on social media throughout the 26 week recruitment period, so we decided to set a weekly social media recruitment budget of $50/week. We’re hoping to get 2-3 calls per week with this budget.

Total for social media: $50/week X 26 weeks = $1300


In addition to the social media ads, we decide the study needs print exposure as well. In a prior campaign, we got about 15 calls per ad. To be conservative, here we’ll estimate 13 calls per ad.

We decide to run a print ad in the San Francisco Chronicle every other week for 20 weeks, or 10 total imprints. A 1/9th page ad costs $405.33. With a plan to run 10 imprints every other week for 20 weeks, we include $405.33 X 10 = $4053.30 for newspaper ads in the recruitment budget.

Total for newspapers: $405.33/ad  X 10 ads = $4053.30

EHR Cohort mailing:

To maximize all recruitment avenues, we will also engage the CTSI Participant Recruitment Services in facilitating a mailing to a cohort identified in the EHR. We estimate between 2-5% return on these letters and decided to base our estimates conservatively at 2%. The APEX data pull identified 7000 potentially eligible women for this study so we will send letters to all of these women. In the study recruitment budget, we include $3710 for the mailing

Total for EHR Recruitment Letter Service: $0.53/letter X 7000 letters = $3710 plus $240 for 2 hours of CTSI Consultant time ($120/hr X 2 hours), or $3950.

Budget and Recruitment Plan

Plugging all this into our recruitment budget, we find that this plan should help us complete our enrollment goals. 

    Recruitment Source

    Per Imprint /week/letter


    Total Cost

    Recruitment Calls

    Estimated Eligible
    (8:1 screen fail rate)

    Flyer Printing






    Social Media






    Newspaper Imprint






    Cohort ID Mailing







      $9,431.30 400 50


    Visualize the visit pathway for a study participant and the 8:1 screen fail rate we identified.

    • We created 400 contacts from the recruitment resources above.
    • We estimate 50 percent of the candidates we talk to by phone are eligible to move on to the in person screening visit. The enrollment pool has gone down to 200 candidates at the Screening Visit.
    • Then, of those who are eligible for screening visit, only half are eligible and willing to move on to the Baseline visit, and the pool is now at 100 candidates.
    • At the Baseline visit, we hope to see a similar eligibility rate to generate enough candidates to reach the recruitment target of 50 participants.