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How Do I Pay a Grant Writer?

Marianne Evans grant writing unicorn
by Marianne Evans
February 24th
How Do I Pay a Grant Writer?r

Can You Pay a Grant Writer on Commission?

Sometimes it can be challenging for organizations looking for grant funding to hire a professional grant writer. After all, if you’re pursuing funding, then spending your resources on a grant writer almost feels counterproductive. Because of this catch-22, many organizations understandably ask if they can build grant writing fees into the grant proposal. This is also known as paying on a commission or contingency.

The short answer is no.

While this was common practice in the past, it has fallen out of favor for various reasons.

First, professional grant writing associations have unanimously deemed this practice unethical. It is not only unfair to the grant writer, but it can also get your organization in deep trouble with your funders.

Whether it’s a government entity or a family foundation, grant awards fund future expenses as they are outlined in your grant budget, not past expenses. Since grant writing takes place months before a grant award, this expense is not an allowable grant expense. If funder’s see that you’ve paid a grant writer from awarded funds, you could be required to pay back all awarded funds and possibly penalties and interest. A grant proposal, after all, is a contract with the funder that your organization will do precisely what is laid out in it.

Grant funders are like investors, but instead of wanting to earn the most money possible, they want to get the most good out of their investment in your organization. This means that any fundraising expenses, including grant writing, are rarely an allowable grant expense.

If you rather watch a YouTube video on this question, you can watch it here.👇

How to Hire a Grant Writer Video


What Percentage Do Grant Writers Get?

Just to make sure we're all on the same page, grant writers also do not receive a percentage of the grant. This has been done in the past but is not allowed now.

This leads to the next most common question we get...

How Much Do Grant Writers Charge?

What your grant writer charges will depend on their experience, your geographic location, and the deliverables provided. Grant writers that are trained through our professional grant writing programs are provided with information on typical grant writing fees. Below is a screenshot. The first point to keep in mind is what grant writing entails and the high value a grant writer can bring to your funding pursuits.

Grant writers do a lot more than just writing. Depending on the project, they also provide the following:

  1. Project management/communication with funders, organization contacts, third-party researchers
  2. Budget development
  3. Grant funding research
  4. Programmatic design
  5. Additional consultation as needed

In short, grant writers offer a lot of expertise. The cost of a grant writer varies from writer to writer. In our Grant Writing Collective, we use this handy chart to highlight appropriate ball park costs associated with grant writing.

BALL PARK FEES

Affordable/FairPremium
Funding Strategy$900-$2,500$2,500-$8,000
Grant Applications
LOI/Straightforward$300-$1,200$1,500-$3,000
Moderate Difficult$1,200-$3,500$3,500-$6,500
Federal Grant$3,500-$5,500$7,000-$25,000+
Hourly$50-$75/hr$100-$150/hr
How to Write a Grant

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How Do You Know You Found a Good Grant Writer?

Writing a grant can be a complex process, especially in consideration of the fact that sometimes it can feel like grant funding is a gamble. Imagine sitting in a Las Vegas casino and asking the poker dealer if she will let you pay her once you win. You know you must put up some money to get a seat at the table and the chance to win a whole lot more. Your buy-in gets you the opportunity to play the game and offers the possibility of winning more money.

Hiring a grant writer secures you a professional with the skills and experience to develop a high-quality proposal to increase your odds of winning. Still, just like your poker buy-in, it doesn’t guarantee it. When you hire a grant writer, you pay for skills, experience, and a professional grant proposal. (Not to mention someone to take the heavy lifting off your overloaded plate.) The grant is not a guaranteed award; it’s a proposal.

Your grant writer can craft a perfect proposal for your organization, but the result of the proposal has several other contributing variables. Variables to success include the relationship your organization has built with funders, your past grant management experience, community reputation, partnerships, and more. A stellar grant writer (like the ones we train, will bring that guiding perspective to optimize your odds of success.)

Now to answer your question, we actually have a whole blog post to answer this question which you can read here.

Did You Know We Have Hundreds of Certified Grant Writers?

We’re all about helping folks make a positive impact in their community. We can connect you with a talented and certified grant writer in our pool of grant writers. Review the process and look for a grant writer that fits your goals. All of the grant writers in our pool have received a certification of completing our proven grant writing training program. Once you select a grant writer to work with, we let the two of you work out a contract and cheer you on as you win grants! This is but a small sample of all our grant writers, so if you don't find someone that is a fit (and you have budget to pay them), email us at info@senworks.org.

Freelancing Websites

Our blog post also discusses OpenGrants, Upwork, and Grant Writer Team.

Word of Mouth

Is there anything more reliable than talking with individuals whose opinions you trust and respect? Check in with your board members, staff members, and fellow nonprofit professionals in your area. Or, is there a Facebook or LinkedIn group you can ask for grant writer recommendations?

The Grant Writing Unicorn Method

One of the most beneficial aspects of the Unicorn Grant Writing Method is that by pursuing the grants your organization has the best chance of being awarded, you’ve significantly increased your odds for success right from the start. The return on the investment you make in a grant writer automatically increases exponentially through the Grant Writing Unicorn Method.

Our certified grant writers offer a roadmap of the top grants for your organization to pursue over the next 12-18 months. They are trained to provide each client with personalized, professional, and superior service from start to funded. They have access to a team of grant writers to collaborate with so that clients, like you, are always supported in whatever situation arises.

Check out this video for how to hire a grant writer and know you hired the right person.

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Grant Writing Resources

Keep reading our blog articles. Specifically, this one has instructions on how to write a grant in 7 easy steps.

This post highlights the top mistakes grant writers make and how to avoid them.

Also, check out the second edition of our best selling book “How to Write a Grant: Become a Grant Writing Unicorn.”

Watch video to see if grant writing is a career for you
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Want To Learn More?

We made this video to answer your questions about how to build a career in grant writing without the fear of where you will find clients or the fear of failure. We cover the top three mistakes that keep people from making the leap from a soul-sucking job to something more meaningful.

Watch Video

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