Grant Writing Fees: How Much Does Grant Writing Cost?
Nonprofits and small business in America often rely on grants as a primary source of revenue. That said, not every organization can have a full-time grant writer to apply for good fit opportunities and others may not know how much to pay.
Knowing exactly what common grant writing fees look like is crucial. In this post, we'll explore how much grant writing costs, answer commonly asked questions around fees, as well as what you should look for when you're hiring a grant writer.
Let's dig in.
Grant Writing Fees: What to Know
Understanding the grant writer fee structure is essential to avoiding overpaying grant writing fees. A writer's credentials, win rate, years of experience, and history of payments earned determine their rates.
A grant writer's win rate is more than the number or percentage of grants won. Winning 15 grants at $100,000 carries more weight than 25 grants at $10,000.
How Much Does Grant Writing Typically Cost?
Typical grant writing costs range from $20 per hour for new grant writers up to $150 per hour for experienced grant writers who have won many grants. Standard, intermediate fees range from $30 to $75 per hour. You can expect to pay between this amount if you are paying freelance grant writer fees.
Federal grant writing fees can be as high as $8,000 - $10,000 per grant, depending on the grant requirements.
For example, grant proposals to the Departments of Defense, Energy, and Commerce are more in-depth and technical in nature, needing expertise in those subject matters to complete successfully.
Grant writing fees can seem high. However, when you consider you can pay for a single grant proposal that you then use as the foundation for all future grants, it is well worth the cost.
You can also choose to train a volunteer or staff member to write future grants and only hire a grant writer for complex grant proposals such as federal grants that require subject matter experts and significant time commitment to complete.
In the case where you choose to train a volunteer or staff member to write your grants, you may find it useful to lean on grant tools such as Instrumentl to save time prospecting, and bring grant tracking and management to one place.
FAQ on Grant Writing Costs
Nonprofits and businesses have lots of questions when it comes to grants writing fees. Following are answers to frequently asked questions regarding the grant writing fee structure of various types of grant writer arrangements:
How Much Do Freelance Grant Writers Charge?
Freelancers benefit from being able to charge freelance grant writer fees that are different with each client. The freelance grant writer may do this to allow lower costs for smaller nonprofits and higher prices for larger nonprofits and businesses.
Flexibility in grant writing fee structure is one reason freelance grant writers can make more money than other grant writers.
A new freelance grant writer with little experience may charge between $20 and $40 per hour. Intermediate grant writer freelance fees range between $40 and $60 hourly. Professional grant writer fee plans can go as high as $150 hourly.
How Much Do Grant Writing Consultancies Charge?
A consultancy is a type of organization consisting of leadership and management with contract grant writers assigned to work with clients.
Consultancies typically charge a higher rate to clients because the owners keep a percentage for overhead and administrative salaries before paying the remainder to appointed grant writers.
A typical consultant grant writer fee can range between $100 and $150 per hour. Grant writer fees for consultancies often start at $40 per hour.
What are Common Fees and Retainers for Grant Writing?
A nonprofit generally will not pay a grant writer retainer fee for practical reasons.
According to the American Grant Writer' Association code of ethics related to retainers, consultancies "may not accept compensation that is a retainer." Ongoing freelance grant writer fee relationships can evolve into monthly retainers rather than hourly payments.
Standard nonprofit and business grant writer retainer fee amounts range from $2,500 per month for smaller agencies up to $10,000 for larger organizations. If the grant writer spends the retainer of their fees, additional payment to the grant writer may be required. Both parties agree to this fee upfront.
Typically, if a retainer is involved, additional hourly rates start at $50 per hour.
How Much is it to Hire a Part-Time vs. Full-Time Grant Writer In-House?
A part-time in-house grant writer can cost anywhere from $15,000 to $30,000 annually, depending on the organization. It can cost between $35,000 and $95,000 to hire a full-time in-house grant writer.
Large regional hospitals or nonprofits may pay on the higher end of the spectrum for a grant writer because the writers have more responsibilities, larger funding goals, and possibly supervisor roles, with junior grant writers reporting to them.
Keep in mind, when hiring a part-time in-house grant writer, your nonprofit may not be required to pay benefits. If you pay your full-time staff benefits and hire a full-time in-house grant writer, you may be required to pay benefits on top of the grant writing fees you are paying the grant writer.
By the way, after you read this post, you may find our post on Should Your Nonprofit Hire a Grant Writing Consultant? useful.
The answers to these frequently asked questions should help in your quest to hire a grant writer.
However, this is not an end-all list of questions about grant writer fees. If you still have questions, keep reading.
Do Grant Writers Earn a Percentage of Grants Won?
Some nonprofits or businesses may offer a percentage of the grant once awarded to the grant writer. Additionally, grant writers may be willing to work for this type of arrangement in lieu of typical grant writer fees. Many individuals argue there is nothing illegal with this situation.
Maybe, maybe not. It is likely illegal if you use that particular grant to pay the grant writer. Most grant contracts prohibit payment for anything that occurred before the award date, including writing the grant proposal.
Also, the American Grant Writers' Association maintains grant writers shall "not accept compensation that is based on a percentage of contributions or contingent upon the award of a grant."
It is generally viewed as unethical not to pay a grant writer for work they completed on behalf of the client. A grant writer can submit the perfect grant, meet all funder requirements, and still not get funded. That decision may have nothing to do with the grant writer's work.
How Do I Choose a Good Grant Writer to Work With?
Choosing the most suitable grant writer involves examining several characteristics. You want to review their resume and consider their win rate. Ask to review several of their awarded grant proposals. Then schedule an interview with them.
When meeting with a grant writer candidate, there are specific questions you should ask them. How do they justify their grant writer fee schedule? How do they incorporate client edits? Are they possessive of their work? Are they certified?
To learn more about the day-to-day of a grant writer, check out our post on What Does a Grant Writer Do? A Day in the Life after you read this one.
What Certifications Should I Look For When Hiring a Grant Writer?
Hiring a certified grant writer benefits you and your organization. They have been trained and have experience at all levels of grant writing. You get a professional grant writer who can write the narrative, complete the budget, submit the proposal, and administer the grant once awarded.
Certified Grant Specialist®
Over the years, several national organizations have certified individual grant writers. In partnership with Research Associates, one of the oldest, the National Grant Writers Association provided in-depth grant writing and grant administration training.
Individuals who passed their training became Certified Grant Specialists.
Certified Grant Writer®
American Grant Writers' Association (AGWA) awards this certification to grant writers, grant managers, and grant consultants. They are required to follow AGWA's Professional Standards and Code of Ethics.
(Advanced) Certified Fundraising Executive
Some nonprofits or businesses may accept these two certifications from the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), demonstrating commitment and achievement to the fundraising profession. While grant writing may be a part of this, it is not the main component.
The AGWA, GPA, and AFP offer directories of grant writers you can contact for your project. You may be required to become a member of these organizations to gain access to their member directories.
If you would like to review a list of partner and consultants, you may want to explore Instrumentl's grant writer consultant partner directory here.
Many of these consultants are also familiar and experienced using Instrumentl, which means you're in good hands in giving your nonprofit the best grant tools for prospecting, tracking and management.
Now that you know what to look for in a grant writer, the last point on the checklist is personality.
Is the candidate someone you can work with regularly? It is an important criterion when comparing grant writer fees of candidates.
Did the interview process go smoothly? Was the candidate on time for the interview? Were they professional and accountable in their demeanor?
Selecting someone you can trust is essential with your agency's future on the line.
Grant Professional Certified (GPC)
The GPC exam is based on a point system reflecting a strong background in education, experience, professional development and community involvement. This certification is supported by the Grant Professionals Association and offered through the Grant Professional Certification Institute.
You can learn more about the GPC here.
Wrapping Things Up: How Much Does Grant Writing Cost?
In summary, the cost of grant writing depends on several factors, such as the grant writer's qualifications, win rate, and certification. Professional grant writer fee plans may include consultancy rates.
Freelance grant writer fees start at $20 per hour for newbies but can range up to $150 hourly, depending on experience and other variables.
Specific nonprofits and businesses prefer to work off a grant writer retainer fee. The retainer is an amount of money the grant writer receives monthly to cover their grant research and grant writing costs. The agreed-upon amount is usually like the amount paid for previous work. These agencies typically pay a professional grant writer fee and maybe in the energy, technology, or health sectors.
The takeaway is to do what is best for you or your nonprofit organization.
Establishing a grant writer fee schedule for the next few years can help you get on with your mission. The grant writer fee structure allows your staff to assume more responsibility by providing a framework for hiring freelance grant writers when needed to help on special projects and annual renewals.
If you’d like to give your grant writer the best tools for bringing grant prospecting, tracking and management to one place, you should try Instrumentl for 14-days free.
Margit Brazda Poirier, founder of Grants4Good and recipient of over $30 million in grant funding, has said Instrumentl "is one of the most streamlined and convenient databases I've used in my 20 years as a grant consultant. I especially appreciate the weekly updates I receive in my email inbox alerting me of changes to grant deadlines and even new grant opportunities."