Many nonprofit organizations rely heavily on private and public grant funding to support their mission. With that said, organizations often need to recruit grant writers and grant writing agencies to help write grant proposals.
Often, new or small non-profit agencies will ask “how much does it cost to hire a grant writer?”. Prices for grant writing services vary greatly, based on location, experience, education, credentials, and more. Want to learn more about how much it costs to hire a grant writer? Keep reading below to learn more about fees associated with grant writing services.
Why Hiring a Quality Grant Writer Matters
The answer to “how much does it cost to hire a grant writer?” is not always straightforward. The cost associated with many grant writing services directly correlates to experience and success.
Often, many organizations try to rely on volunteers or staff to write grants. Without proper expertise, this often does not result in successfully winning grant applications. The common phrase “you get what you pay for” certainly applies. Investing in a high-quality grant writer or agency yields better results in most cases. Thus, you could consider grant writing services as an investment in your non-profit’s success. While you will often pay for grant writing services up front, which can sometimes seem high, the return that you may receive on your investment by winning a grant can be large. Therefore, many organizations budget for a part-time or full-time grant writer.
Factors that Affect the Cost to Hire a Grant Writer
A grant writer’s qualifications and experience are major factors that affect their pricing. In addition, the type of grant proposal (private or public), as well as a writer’s success rate/win rate may also affect costs. Many grant writers hold the following accreditations:
- National Grant Writers Association Certified Grant Specialist
- American Grant Writers’ Association (AGWA) Certified Grant Writer
- Advanced Fundraising Executive Credentials
- Grant Professional Certified Exam Credentials
If a grant writer holds one or more of these accreditations, it may cost more to hire that particular grant writer. A grant writer’s professional background may also impact their rates. For example, a writer with 10+ years of nonprofit experience is likely to charge more than a new grant writer.
How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Grant Writer?
As previously mentioned, the cost to hire a grant writer depends on several factors and can vary widely. You may find inexperienced grant writers with a rate of $25/hour. For more experienced writers (especially those in technical fields), grant writing services may cost closer to $150/hour. Specific types of grant writers, in fields that require scientific knowledge or a technical degree, will cost more to hire.
Real-world experience and knowledge niches play a role in pricing as well. For example, if your grant is about providing business services to a historically marginalized community, it would be helpful to pay more to have a writer with expensive business experience who can not only edit, but give content feedback on, your proposed program. If you are applying to a grant with the Department of Energy, a writer that has a science background would be preferred. Good grant writers can point you in the right direction for how to write a compelling grant that will actually get funded, which possibly requires tweaks to your program.
While some grant writers charge an hourly rate for services, others may charge a per-project rate. For a small grant, this could look like a fee of $1,000. In contrast, larger, federal grants could cost upwards of $10,000-$30,000. Again, the fees for grant writing services vary widely depending on the expertise of the writer and the requirements/size of the grant proposal. While this is not always the case, larger grants may end up costing more due to their many requirements. Larger grants tend to involve more partnerships, more subrecipients, more budget line-items, more planning, and can be more competitive. While $30,000 sounds like a lot, let’s say it is for a $15,000,000 grant. This would be a fee of only 0.2%, which, for a percentage or basis fee, is lower than almost any other professional.
Choosing Grant Writing Services
When choosing grant writing services, organizations must strategically consider the quality of services. Using a free or low-cost grant writer will not deliver results, especially if you’re competing for a large, competitive grant application.
The process of grant writing requires a specific skill set unlike any other field of writing. Many organizations hire writers with impressive writing degrees only to find they’re not qualified in grant writing. When choosing a grant writer or grant writing service, the grant writing experience is of more importance than educational degrees.
Non-profit organizations that want to win grants need a writer with grant writing experience. The experience a grant writer brings includes an understanding of grant budgets, being able to write with persuasion, the ability to match the budget to the grant narrative, knowing how to meet the donor’s needs, and having the ability to manage a project effectively. Therefore, it is not recommended to simply hire someone good at writing in general, because most of the work a grant writer does is actually project management and sales (selling your idea to the donor).
Do Grant Writers Receive a Percentage of the Award?
For a variety of reasons, most scenarios will not allow grant writers to receive a percentage of the grant award. To begin with, most grant parameters do not allow this practice. With this in mind, it’s important to always thoroughly read the RFP/proposal details and requirements.
Secondly, the process of grant writing is extensive and time-consuming. Grant writers perform a thorough writing service that requires compensation, regardless of whether the grant is awarded. In many scenarios, a grant may not be awarded for reasons unrelated to the quality of the writing. (Lack of funding, many applications, fiscal responsibility concerns, etc). Sometimes, even the most well-written and persuasive grants are not awarded. When hiring a grant writer, clients must understand these principles.
Why a Winning Funding Strategy Matters
Creating a funding strategy is the first step on the path to winning grants for your nonprofit agency. Many nonprofits rush to apply to grants without putting time into thorough research. Using a methodical funding strategy approach, your organization can improve your chances of winning grant funding.
Often, several grant applications will need to be submitted before winning one. Developing a funding strategy can help your organization to determine which grants to apply for and help foster your overall success. This is an important step for long-term sustainability of your organization- so that you don’t simply chase grants.
If your organization struggles to find applications worth applying for, Kupala Ventures can help. Using a methodical approach to grant research, we identify and compile a list of worthwhile grant applications tailored to your funding needs. We help organizations create a grant research strategy that delivers results. By identifying and researching top grants, your organization can better utilize time and achieve a higher return on investment. Research is a critical step in determining if a grant is worthy of application.
Pros/Cons of Hiring a Grant Writer vs. Freelancing Services
Organizations wanting to apply for many grants may need to consider hiring a part-time or full-time grant writer or using freelancing services. Depending on your needs, both of these options can be used successfully in different scenarios. Hiring a part-time or full-time staff person means you’ll have someone dedicated to managing grant proposals, requirements, and applications. A full- or part-time staff member can be helpful because they can learn about your mission, community and projects, compared to having to train a freelancer every time you hire one. However, this also means you’re paying them and giving them benefits regularly, whether or not there are grants to apply for at that given time.
In contrast, hiring a freelancer is another option for non-profit organizations that need to find grant writing assistance. Hiring a freelance grant writer gives you the option to utilize their expertise as needed, and you don’t have to pay for benefits. A freelancer may give you access to more advanced skill-sets. When looking at their pay, keep in mind that the hourly rate a freelancer needs to charge is higher than what you’d pay an employee because the freelancer does not receive stability or benefits.
Answering the Question of “How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Grant Writer?”
As mentioned above, it is not always easy to understand the costs associated with grant writing. Ultimately, investing in quality and experienced grant writers will offer more opportunities for success for your non-profit organization. Depending on each organization’s unique needs, creating a funding strategy can help you hone in on worthwhile grant applications. Book a call with Kupala Ventures today to learn how we create compelling grant applications for non-profits like yours.