Understanding Blending and Braiding
The terms blending and braiding are often used without any clear definition of what they mean. Blending and braiding are very different, but complementary, fiscal approaches. They are both tools for using multiple funding streams to support a common group of activities on behalf of a defined population in need.
Blending funding involves commingling the funds into one "pot" where case managers can draw down service dollars, personnel
expenses can be paid, or other program needs can be met. When funding is blended, it goes into the "pot" and when it
is pulled back out to pay for an expense, there is no means for the fiscal manager to report which funding stream paid for exactly
Blending funding is politically challenging. Some funding streams cannot be blended. Other streams
will require the funder to allow an exception to how reporting normally functions. Funders have to accept receiving
reports on services and outcomes across the population being served, rather than exactly which children, youth, and families
received services with their dollars. To blend your funding, you will need to work closely with your funder and ensure
you can meet their reporting requirements.
Braided funding involves multiple funding streams utilized to pay for all of the services needed by a given population, with
careful accounting of how every dollar from each stream is spent. The term braiding is used because multiple
funding streams are initially separate, brought together to pay for more than any one stream can support, and then
carefully pulled back apart to report to funders on how the money was spent.
Braided funding is often the only option. Most federal funding streams require careful tracking of staff time, with
requirements for allocation of personnel hours and other expenses to specific federal streams. Consequently,
when multiple funding streams are paying for a single program or system, the system will need to be carefully designed to allow
for sufficient reporting to ensure each funding stream is only paying for activities eligible under that stream.
Are you interested in more informaion? Contact Spark Policy Institute: 303-455-1740, ext. 113, firstname.lastname@example.org.