Should nonprofits pay a grant writer percentage fee? I'll explain best practices and questions to ask before pricing grant writer services. Teresa Huff, Grant Writing Simplified Podcast

Business Building: Grant Writer Percentage Fees & Pricing [Episode 56]

Building Your Grant Writing Career

This Grant Writer Business Building Series has been so much fun! We’ve had some great conversations around building your grant writing career. Today I’ve got a juicy topic for you!
If you’re tired of trying to figure it out on your own and you need support to connect the dots, sign up for the Fast Track to Grant Writer at teresahuff.com/vip. The students in there have a clear plan and even more importantly, they’re taking incredible action! 

Questions from Grant Writers and Nonprofits

I hear a lot of questions from both grant writers and nonprofits. Nonprofits are trying to figure out what’s a fair way to pay the grant writer, and grant writers are trying to price their services fairly.

Grant writers are asking me:

  • Should I work for free?
  • How much do I charge?

Grant writing requires a highly specialized skill set. Believe it or not, though, you probably have a lot to work with already, even if you’re new to grant writing.

Let’s make that gap as small as possible so you can feel good about what you have to offer. If that’s where you are, then join me on the Fast Track to Grant Writer at teresahuff.com/vip.


Nonprofits often ask me:

  • Do you know of any volunteer grant writers?
  • Do you work on commission? Or performance-based grant writing?
  • How much should we expect to pay a grant writer?

If this is where you are in your nonprofit, then fill out the application and we’ll map out a plan for you at teresahuff.com/nonprofits.


How Should a Nonprofit Pay a Grant Writer?

I wish I could just tell you that grant writing is $____ per hour and call it good. But that wouldn’t be fair from any perspective.

I can, however, give you a few things to consider:

  1. What’s the extent of the work? Will the grant writer strictly be writing proposals, or will they be researching prospective opportunities, gathering all the info, compiling data, conducting interviews, helping flesh out program design, implementing the evaluation process, and so on? 
  2. What types of grants will be involved? Grant applications can range from a few hours to 100+ hours. Small local foundation grants are much less complex than a federal grant, and the required skill level varies accordingly.
  3. How much experience does the grant writer have, and what kind of grants have they written? 

The pricing and agreement needs to be a win-win for both sides.

Should a Grant Writer Work on Percentage Fees?

This type of payment structure may be referred to as contingency fees, commission, or percentage-based. Oddly enough, this is the most widely assumed payment structure by nonprofits, but also the most blacklisted in the field.

A grant writer percentage fee is not considered among best practices because:

By trying to pay the grant writer a percentage of the grant award, you’re essentially saying you want to use grant funds to retroactively pay for the fundraising efforts that happened before the grant was awarded. When you take funds out of the grant to do that, it goes against the purpose of the grant program.

Bottom Line for Grant Writers:

Your work is worth paying for. Make sure you bring value to the table in every project, whether or not you win the grant.

Bottom Line for Nonprofits:

Be sure you can afford to pay a grant writer out of your general budget. Don’t plan on using grant money to pay them. A little tough love here – if you can’t afford the grant writer, then you’re probably not ready for grants. Focus on other types of fundraising and income sources first.

Grant Writing Is a Long-Term Investment

Both grant writers and nonprofits need to recognize the amount of skill that goes into writing a successful grant application and compensate accordingly. It’s a long-term investment in the organization’s programs and sustainability.
If you’re a nonprofit and not sure how to move forward with grants, go to teresahuff.com/nonprofits and let’s chat about the next best steps for you.
If you’re a grant writer wanting to make a career out of this, join me in the Fast Track to Grant Writer so we can map out specific action steps for your income. Now is a great time to jump in so you can level up your grant writing career. 
What is ONE SMALL thing you’ll do today to make the world around you a better place? Now go do it!

Other Episodes Mentioned:

More Grant Writer Strategy Calls:

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