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New for 2019, this post looks at available data about average and median salaries of Grant Writers in Canada. Occasional posts also explore income and other aspects of grant writing as a career in other parts of the world.

 

In late 2019, professional Grant Writers appeared to command relatively high salaries in Canada. Such a conclusion is subject to revision, however, due to the limits of pertinent, readily available, and timely data.

 

Average Salaries

 

Data from Salaryexpert.com indicate that, in 2019, for all of Canada, for a Grant Writer with one year of experience, the average salary was C$74,955. For the selected cities for which Salaryexpert.com reported data, the salaries (at the 50th percentiles) ranged from a low of C$67,752 in Fredericton, NB to a high of C$82,507 in Yellowknife, NT.

 

Canada GrWr 50%ile Salaries Graphic

 

For the 25th percentiles, the salaries ranged from a low of C$48,593 in Fredericton, NB to a high of C$59,175 in Yellowknife, NT.

 

Canada GrWr 25%ile Salaries Graphic

 

And for the 75th percentiles, the salaries ranged from a low of C$83,607 in Fredericton, NB to a high of C$101,815, also in Yellowknife, NT.

 

Canada GrWr Salaries 75%ile Graphic

 

Note: All data presented here are in Canadian dollars (C$). As of the week of this post, the C$ has been trading at around C$1.33 to the US dollar (US$) in international exchange rates.

 

City and Province 25thPercentile Average 75thPercentile
Calgary, AB C$58,451 C$81,497 C$100,569
Edmonton, AB C$57,324 C$79,926 C$98,630
Vancouver BC C$58,051 C$80,940 C$99,881
Victoria, BC C$55,879 C$77,912 C$96,145
Winnipeg, MB C$50,586 C$70,532 C$87,037
Fredericton, NB C$48,593 C$67,752 C$83,607
Yellowknife, NT C$59,175 C$82,507 C$101,815
London, ON C$53,380 C$74,428 C$91,845
Ottawa, ON C$56,628 C$78,956 C$97,433
Toronto, ON C$57,736 C$80,500 C$99,338
Montreal, QC C$53,407 C$74,465 C$91,891
Quebec, QC C$50,896 C$70,963 C$87,570
Regina, SK C$52,513 C$73,219 C$90,353
Saskatoon, SK C$51,480 C$71,778 C$88,575
Canada C$53,758 C$74,955 C$92,495

 

Median Salaries

 

Other data sources also painted a positive picture for Grant Writers in Canada, but the sample sizes generally were too small to be reliable. PayScale.com indicated that the national median salary for grant writers was C$49,132, with a mid-range of C$39,000 to C$73,000. For Toronto, ON, median salary was $54,045 and the mid-range was C$48,000 to C$65,000. For Montreal, QC, median salary was C$45,000, and the mid-range was C$36,000 to C$60,000.  Data for other provinces and for other cities were not available.

 

Fringe Benefits

 

PayScale.com indicated that vacation time varied with years of experience. Grant Writers with 1 to 4 years of experience reported 1.4 weeks (or 7 days); those with 5 to 9 years of experience reported 1.5 weeks (or 7.5 days); and those with 10 to 19 years of experience reported 1.0 week (or 5 days) of vacation time. The median bonus reported for Grant Writers in Canada was C$100, with a range of C$0 to C$550.

 

 

 

This new post looks at Grant Writing Consultants’ fees in late 2019 for such services as creating funding development plans or devising project evaluation plans. It’s part of an ongoing series. Other related posts for late 2019 look at: hourly rates and flat rates, retainer fees, prospect research fees, and other topics related to how Grant Writing Consultants earn an income. As with others, the context for the series is the United States of America.

 

Fixed Fee Assignments

 

In late 2019, beyond stating hourly rates, per proposal rates, retainer fees, and proposal review fees, some Grant Writing Consultants also published cost information about other services. One of the most frequently encountered rates for ancillary services was that for fixed-fee assignments for private sector prospect research and/or private sector proposal development.

 

In late 2019, fewer consultants than in earlier years discussed fixed fee assignments. The costs for such assignments ranged from $2,500 to $15,000 for finding three to 10 private sector grant leads and/or for writing three to 10 proposals.

 

Minimum Funder Leads Maximum Funder Leads
Consultant/Firm 1 $2,500 5 leads $5,000 10 leads
Consultant/Firm 2 $5,500 3 leads $7,000 10 leads
Consultant/Firm 3 $7,500 5 leads $15,000 5 leads

 

Strategic Planning Support and Technical Assistance

 

A few Grant Writing Consultants offered to help grant seekers with strategic planning, organizational development, or other technical assistance.

 

Technical Assistance Rates Graphic

 

The few sampled rates varied from $100 per hour to $250 per hour; however, other consultants, who did not post any hourly or fixed rates, also offered similar suites of technical assistance support services. Required minimum time commitments were typically 5-10 hours.

 

 Technical Assistance Minimum Rates Maximum Rates
Consultant/Firm 1 $100/hour Not stated
Consultant/Firm 2 $125/hour Not stated
Consultant/Firm 3 $125/hour Not stated
Consultant/Firm 4 $125/hour Not stated
Consultant/Firm 5 $250/hour Not stated

 

Grant Writing Workshops

 

Slightly more Grant Writing Consultants than in earlier website surveys offered workshops for grant-related staff development. Perhaps one reason for possible growth in such services was that they served as marketing strategies or ways to create awareness and to build credibility among potential clients.

 

In late 2019, Grant Writing Consultants’ workshops were scheduled flexibly, but typically lasted one to three days. Consultants charged for them by the half-day (e.g., 3-4 hours at $300) or by the day (e.g., 6-8 hours at $1,500) plus itemized expenses. The most frequently cited consultants’ expenses to be billed to hosts or clients were those for travel, lodging, and office support (e.g., printing, copying, mailing, or shipping). Consultants’ expense charges occasionally included a 15% administrative surcharge.

 

Rates Duration Plus Expenses
Consultant/Firm 1 $300 Half-day Yes
Consultant/Firm 2 $2,100 Half-day Yes
Consultant/Firm 3 $600 Day Yes
Consultant/Firm 4 $1,000 Day Yes
Consultant/Firm 5 $1,500 Day Yes
Consultant/Firm 6 $2,500 Day Yes
Consultant/Firm 7 $3,000 Day Yes
Consultant/Firm 8 $5,000 Day Yes

 

 

This is the last post in this series for late 2019.

 

This new post looks at Grant Writing Consultants’ proposal revision and review fees in late 2019. It’s part of an ongoing series. Earlier posts looked at hourly rates and flat rates (also called per-proposal rates or per-project rates), prospect research fees, and retainer fees. Other related posts for late 2019 examine hourly rates and flat rates for technical assistance and other topics related to how consultants earn an income. The United States of America is the context for the series.

 

At times, potential clients of Grant Writing Consultants may already have a grant proposal available in a more or less submission-ready form. Consultants may offer to proofread and edit a preliminary or pre-existing proposal rather than insist that they write it from the start. They also may offer to play the role of third-party technical reviewers before a draft or a revision is made final. Consultants may furnish critiques of such unfinished proposals and may suggest how to improve them. Alternatively, they may contract both to provide a critique of a proposal and to revise or rewrite it entirely.

 

Proposal Reviews and Revisions

 

In late 2019, Grant Writing Consultants often adjusted the rates they charge to critique, edit, and revise proposals based upon such factors as the proposal’s length and the complexity of its subject or focus. At times, they offered to charge for services up to a pre-determined not-to-exceed amount and/or to provide review and revision services for a minimum flat fee. Many Grant Writing Consultants accepted such review-and-revise assignments on a case-by-case basis and did not publish specialized rate schedules for such services.

 

Sample Review and Revision Rates

 

Flat rates for review and revision – as stated on Grant Writing Consultants’ websites in late 2019 – varied from $200 to $6,000 per grant proposal reviewed and/or revised. Higher-end consultants charged a minimum of $2,500 (for 10 hours at $250 per hour) for each proposal they critiqued. All of these rates were the same as those found in website surveys done in 2017 and in 2016.

 

Review-Revision Rates in Late 2019

 

On surveyed websites, Grant Writing Consultants’ declared hourly rates for reviews and revisions of grant proposals were from $50 to $250. Their median rate was $125 per hour. Many consultants stipulated a set number of hours that they will charge clients for such services – typically, a minimum of 10 hours. As may be observed, Grant Writing Consultants’ charges for reviews and revisions often approached what the same consultants will charge per hour for developing a brand new proposal from start to finish.

 

Review/Revision Fees Minimum Rates Maximum Rates
Consultant/Firm 1 $200 $500
Consultant/Firm 2 $350 $750
Consultant/Firm 3 $500 $1,500
Consultant/Firm 4 $500 $1,500
Consultant/Firm 5 $500 $2,000
Consultant/Firm 6 $3,000 $6,000
Consultant/Firm 7 $3,000 $6,000
Consultant/Firm 8 $500 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 9 $1,000 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 10 $1,200 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 11 $1,500 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 12 $1,500 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 13 $2,000 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 14 $2,500 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 15 $50/hour Unstated
Consultant/Firm 17 $65/hour Unstated
Consultant/Firm 18 $125/hour Unstated
Consultant/Firm 19 $125/hour Unstated
Consultant/Firm 20 $250/hour Unstated

 

The next post in this series will discuss Grant Writing Consultants’ fees for proposal planning, professional development, and other services in late 2019.

 

This post looks at what Grant Writing Consultants charge for retainer fees in late 2019. Part of an ongoing series, it presents newly researched data. Other related posts for late 2019 look at hourly rates and flat rates (also called per-proposal rates or per-project rates), proposal review and revision fees, and other topics related to how Grant Writing Consultants earn an income. The United States of America is the context for the series.

 

Retainer Fees

 

A retainer fee offers clients priority access to consultants’ services. Many Grant Writing Consultants are willing to work under a retainer agreement for a small subset of select clients. Retainers work well when there is a steady flow of work and when the client and the consultant have a long-term relationship. The client and the consultant both benefit from the predictability of the retainer arrangement.

 

In late 2019, a typical retainer committed both parties to a specified minimum number of hours of service per month and to a specified number of months the agreement is to be in effect. Often the minimum number of hours was 10 hours per month and the minimum number of months was three, six, or twelve. Often the retainer was paid monthly on or before the first of the month. In setting their retainer fees, some consultants offered discounts off their standard hourly rates.

 

Services agreed upon in the retainer depended upon the specific contract. Among such services could be one or more of:

  • Providing advisory and consulting services
  • Participating in planning sessions with client staff
  • Making presentations to client staff
  • Doing grant prospect research
  • Providing grant opportunity alerts
  • Preparing a set number of letters of inquiry per month
  • Providing assistance in proposal development
  • Developing a set number of proposals per month

 

Sample Retainer Fees

 

In late 2019, a Grant Writing Consultant’s retainer fee could cost a client as little as $850 per month or as much as $8,000 per month.

 

Monthly Retainer Fees Graphic

 

Calculated on a quarterly basis, these extremes represented a fee range of $3,550 to $24,000; on a yearly basis, they represented a fee range of $10,200 to $96,000.

 

Retainer Fees Minimum Rates Maximum Rates
Consultant/Firm 1 $1,000/month $3,500/month
Consultant/Firm 2 $1,500/month $3,000/month
Consultant/Firm 3 $4,000/month $6,000/month
Consultant/Firm 4 $6,000/month $8,000/month
Consultant/Firm 5 $850/month Unstated
Consultant/Firm 6 $1,000/month Unstated
Consultant/Firm 7 $1,000/month Unstated
Consultant/Firm 8 $3,600/month Unstated
Consultant/Firm 9 $4,000/month Unstated

 

Presented data reflect information provided on a sampled set of Grant Writing Consultants’ websites from late 2019 which addressed the topic of retainer fees. They appear to reflect considerable stability in the levels of such fees since late 2017. Other samples taken at different times may lead to different results.

 

The next post in this series will discuss consultants’ proposal review and revision fees in late 2019.

 

This post looks at Grant Writing Consultants’ prospect research fees in late 2019. It updates earlier posts aspart of an ongoing series. Other related posts for late 2019 look at hourly rates and flat rates (also called per-proposal rates or per-project rates), retainer fees, and other topics related to how grant consultants earn an income. The United States of America is the context for the series.

 

Prospect research is the search for viable grant opportunities. Grant Writing Consultants often do prospect research for client grant-seekers. If the client can set some of the research’s parameters ahead of time (e.g., search terms, funding type, beneficiaries, grant award range), the search for potential funders is apt to be that much more efficient – and often less costly.

 

Prospect Research Fees

 

In late 2019, Grant Writing Consultants often offered to find a fixed number of grant prospects at a flat rate per prospect and with a minimum number of prospects to be delivered. Consultants then adjusted their prospect research fees based upon:

  • The number of prospects to be identified
  • The extensiveness and scope of the search for potential funders
  • The nature of the project concept
  • The amount of the anticipated budget request
  • The size of the client’s organization

 

At the prospect search’s end, consultants offered to deliver to clients a detailed and prioritized list of possible grant sources; an analysis of the chances of obtaining grants from each source; and, a plan for what to do next to pursue grants from the best prospects.

 

Sample Fees

 

Grant Writing Consultants’ charges for prospect research services varied widely in late 2019. They ranged from $500 to $9,600 per funding report. The ultimate cost of such searches often observed a pre-established not-to-exceed amount, commonly set at $5,000 or $10,000. Evaluations of identified grant leads – held either on-site or conducted remotely with a client – were charged at hourly rates of from $35 to $150 or more.

 

Research Fees Minimum Flat Maximum Flat
Consultant/Firm 1 $500 $3,200
Consultant/Firm 2 $750 $5,000
Consultant/Firm 3 $1,500 $3,500
Consultant/Firm 4 $2,000 $4,000
Consultant/Firm 5 $2,000 $5,000
Consultant/Firm 6 $2,500 $5,000
Consultant/Firm 7 $4,800 $9,600
Consultant/Firm 8 $375 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 9 $500 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 10 $500 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 11 $500 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 12 $750 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 13 $1,500 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 14 $1,500 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 15 $2,000 Unstated

 

Prospect Research Hourly Rates Graphic

 

Research Fees Minimum Hourly Maximum Hourly
Consultant/Firm 1 $35/hour Unstated
Consultant/Firm 2 $45/hour Unstated
Consultant/Firm 3 $50/hour Unstated
Consultant/Firm 4 $50/hour Unstated
Consultant/Firm 5 $50/hour Unstated
Consultant/Firm 6 $60/hour Unstated
Consultant/Firm 7 $75/hour Unstated
Consultant/Firm 8 $75/hour Unstated
Consultant/Firm 9 $75/hour Unstated
Consultant/Firm 10 $90/hour Unstated
Consultant/Firm 11 $100/hour Unstated
Consultant/Firm 12 $150/hour Unstated

 

Charges for prospect research varied with its nature, scope, and complexity. Private grant makers were far more numerous than public ones; thus, they often required more time for a search. In general, potential grant seekers could expect to spend measurably less for a search limited to state and federal grant prospects, and measurably more for one limited to foundation and corporate grant prospects.

 

The next post in this series will discuss Grant Writing Consultants’ retainer fees in late 2019.

A new survey of grant-writing consultants’ websites in late 2019 suggests that consultants’ hourly rates and flat rates (also called per-proposal rates or per-project rates), which they charge for services, have risen only marginally since the last survey (late 2017).

 

This post is part of a series – all revised for late 2019. Its other related posts look at: retainer rates, prospect research rates, proposal review and editing rates, and other topics related to how grant consultants earn an income. The United States of America is the context for the series.

 

Hourly Rates

 

During 2019, hourly rates for writing grant proposals varied greatly. According to PayScale.com, as of late 2019, pay rates for a self-selected sample of salaried Grant Writers varied by stage of career. Based on a 2,000-hour work-year, for early career Grant Writers, average salaries equated to $20.04 to $22.60 per hour; for mid-career Grant Writers, they equated to $25.35 per hour; for experienced Grant Writers, they equated to $26.72 per hour; and for late career Grant Writers, they equated to $29.70 per hour.

 

Self-reported bonuses for salaried Grant Writers varied also, with larger bonuses continuing to be reported for mid-career salaried Grant Writers than for late career or for early career.

 

In late 2019, Grant Writing Consultants’ hourly rates continued to be higher than those of most salaried Grant Writers. Based on a review of sampled websites of consultants doing business across the United States, the standard rates billed to clients for grant writing and related consulting services extended from $45 per hour to $200 per hour. The median for sampled rates was $75 per hour, which was $10 less per hour than in late 2017. Most sampled rates fell between $75 and $100 per hour, which amounted to $1,500 to $2,000 for every 20 billable hours.

 

Some Grant Writing Consultants offered lower rates for non-profit clients versus other types of clients. A few also offered lower rates for writing grant proposals versus other kinds of grant-related services (e.g., grants management or project evaluation). In addition, some consultants specified a minimum number of hours (e.g., 20 hours at $100 per hour) or a minimum not-to-exceed amount (e.g., $10,000).

 

Proposals submitted to corporations or foundations are often significantly less complex (and thus generally less costly for clients) than those submitted to units of local, state, or federal government. Consequently, many Grant Writing Consultants adjusted their rates based on the type of grant maker; other consultants did not adjust their rates based on this consideration.

 

Flat Rates

 

An alternative to charging by the hour was to charge a flat rate (also called a per proposal rate or a per project rate). Grant Writing Consultants often indicated that they would need to do a thorough analysis of the details of a grant opportunity before quoting a flat rate. Some consultants posted both hourly rates and flat rates. Other consultants posted no rates whatsoever; instead, they alluded to considering an organization’s specific needs first, before quoting any rates or fees to that organization.

 

Consultants’ actual flat rates varied by such factors as the lead-time to prepare and turn around the proposal, the complexity of the project, the proposal’s length, the amount of the grant request, and the time needed to complete the assignment. Most consultants varied their rates by the type of grant source: foundation, corporation, state, federal. Some consultants also varied their rates by the nature of the proposal document – a letter of inquiry, a letter of intent to apply, and a corporate solicitation letter tended to cost considerably less than a full-length grant proposal to be sent to a government agency.

 

In late 2019, the floor that some Grant Writing Consultants quoted for a basic proposal (typically for a private foundation) was as low as $300. Other consultants set the floor at $6,000, $12,500, or $35,000. The ceilings quoted for a more complicated proposal were $10,000 or $15,000; however, in a full-service scenario, such flat-rate ceilings could also reach $40,000 or even $60,000. Beyond such wide variations in quoted flat rates, consultants often charged a premium for preparing a proposal with a very short lead-time before it was due – regardless of its funding source. Consultants defined short lead times as any that were 15 days or fewer before a deadline.

 

Grant Writing Services Minimum Flat Rates Maximum Flat Rates
Consultant/Firm 1 $300 $1,500
Consultant/Firm 2 $400 $800
Consultant/Firm 3 $500 $1,500
Consultant/Firm 4 $500 $7,500
Consultant/Firm 5 $600 $2,000
Consultant/Firm 6 $600 $2,000
Consultant/Firm 7 $1,000 $1,500
Consultant/Firm 8 $1,000 $3,000
Consultant/Firm 9 $1,000 $3,500
Consultant/Firm 10 $1,500 $3,000
Consultant/Firm 11 $1,500 $3,000
Consultant/Firm 12 $1,500 $3,500
Consultant/Firm 13 $1,500 $7,000
Consultant/Firm 14 $1,500 $7,500
Consultant/Firm 15 $2,500 $7,500
Consultant/Firm 16 $2,500 $10,900
Consultant/Firm 17 $2,500 $12,000
Consultant/Firm 18 $2,500 $45,000
Consultant/Firm 19 $3,000 $8,000
Consultant/Firm 20 $3,000 $9,000
Consultant/Firm 21 $3,000 $9,000
Consultant/Firm 22 $3,500 $7,500
Consultant/Firm 23 $3,500 $10,000
Consultant/Firm 24 $6,000 $10,000
Consultant/Firm 25 $6,000 $15,000
Consultant/Firm 26 $6,500 $25,000
Consultant/Firm 27 $12,500 $16,500
Consultant/Firm 28 $18,000 $40,000
Consultant/Firm 29 $35,000 $60,000
Consultant/Firm 30 $400 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 31 $500 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 32 $1,000 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 33 $2,250 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 34 $2,500 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 35 $3,000 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 36 $3,000 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 37 $3,500 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 38 $4,000 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 39 $4,500 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 40 $6,000 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 41 $10,000 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 42 $11,500 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 43 $13,000 Unstated

 

In late 2019, Grant Writing Consultants often required advance payment in full if the contracted flat rate fell below a predefined threshold. The most frequently stated threshold – $3,000 plus or minus $500 – was the same as it has been in 2017, in 2016, and in 2015. If the flat rate exceeded a given threshold, consultants generally required 50% of the total contract to be paid in advance. They made the balances due either upon delivery of the completed proposal or within either 15 days or 30 days after delivery.

 

Hourly Rates Graphic

 

Many consultants provided hourly rates, typically as an alternative to flat rates and sometimes in addition to flat rates. Such hourly rates could be one definite amount or they could cover a range, where which rate will apply will depend upon the nature of services to be performed. In late 2019, most of the hourly rates found in an online search were $75 to $100, with a median rate of $75.

 

Grant Writing Services Minimum Hourly Rates Maximum Hourly Rates
Consultant/Firm 1 $70 $200
Consultant/Firm 2 $100 $150
Consultant/Firm 3 $100 $150
Consultant/Firm 4 $120 $150
Consultant/Firm 5 $200 $300
Consultant/Firm 6 $45 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 7 $50 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 8 $60 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 9 $65 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 10 $75 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 11 $75 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 12 $75 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 13 $75 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 14 $75 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 15 $75 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 16 $75 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 17 $75 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 18 $80 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 19 $85 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 20 $85 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 21 $90 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 22 $95 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 23 $100 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 24 $100 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 25 $100 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 26 $120 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 27 $125 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 28 $125 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 29 $125 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 30 $150 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 31 $150 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 32 $200 Unstated

 

The next post in this series will discuss consultants’ prospect research fees in late 2019.

This post’s focus is root-cause analysis (RCA) as a method for planning proposals for grant funding. It is the second in a series about evidence-based practices (EBPs) and grant seeking. Like the entire series, its context is winning discretionary grants for educational reform in the United States of America.

 

Root Cause Analysis Graphic

 

Definition

 

At its core, “root-cause analysis is the process by which practitioners examine the possible underlying factors behind prioritized areas for improvement (AIR, 2019, p. 5).”  A root cause is: “the deepest underlying cause, or causes, of positive or negative symptoms within any process that, if dissolved, would result in elimination, or substantial reduction, of the symptom (Preuss, 2013, p. 3).” Root causes occur at any of four levels: (1) incident or procedural, (2) programmatic or process, (3) systemic, or (4) external (Preuss, 2013, p. 9) and they may be synchronic, diachronic, or both.

 

Goals

 

Among the goals of root-cause analysis are: (1) to identify specific and actionable problems, (2) to determine the root causes of those problems, and (3) to build and reach consensus on which problems to address together and how to go about it. Elements of the processes and products of a root-cause analysis may surface throughout a proposal narrative, but will do so particularly in a Needs Assessment, Research-Based Rationale, Program Design, Management Plan, Evaluation Plan, and Budget.

 

After completing a root-cause analysis, practitioners should develop a logic model (using either a theory approach, an activity approach, or an outcome approach). The entire logic model may underlie a proposal’s Program Design, Management Pan, or Evaluation Plan, or it may appear as an Attachment.

 

Multi-Step Process

 

Doing a root-cause analysis (RCA) requires several steps (American Society for Quality, 2016):

 

  1. Decide: Form a small team to do the RCA. Note that a grant opportunity is only one circumstance – among many – that may trigger a decision to do a root-cause analysis.

 

  1. Select: Select team members from the part of the school or school district that experiences the problem. Supplement the team with leadership (e.g., principals who have authority to implement solutions), an internal stakeholder (one who is engaged with element experiencing the problems), and a school improvement advisor (if other participants are unfamiliar with RCA).

 

  1. Analyze: Expect the RCA to require at least 8 weeks. During the period, place equal emphasis on: (A) defining the problem; (B) brainstorming its possible causes; (C) analyzing causes and effects; and (D) formulating a solution to the problem. Have the team meet at least once a week, sometimes 2-3 times a week. Limit each meeting to 2 hours. Maintain a flexible agenda so that the meetings remain creative.

 

  1. Assign: Have one team member take on the role of ensuring that the analysis moves forward. Alternatively, assign specific tasks to each team member.

 

  1. Implement: Once the team has formulated a solution and the organization has decided to adopt it, expect it to take as little as a week – or as long as 36 months – before the solution is completely implemented, depending on the nature of the solution and its implementation.

 

Remind mindful that root causes need to be: (1) specific (2) identifiable, (3) within an organization’s control and capacity to fix, and (4) amenable to the ways recommended to fix them.

 

Roles

 

Grant Writing Consultants can facilitate a root-cause analysis if they are familiar with continuous improvement and if they provide services onsite rather than remotely. With adequate support, in-house Grant Writers may also facilitate the process.

 

Obstacles

 

Challenges are possible throughout the process. Among many possible obstacles to conducting a productive root-cause analysis are:

 

  • Not enough time or resources committed to process
  • Inadequate or incomplete data or feedback
  • Superficial charting of causal factors
  • Uncooperative co-workers
  • Disengagement among key stakeholders
  • Difficulties with organizing or implementing teams
  • Differences among professionals
  • Lack of support from management and/or leadership
  • Absence of consensus about levels and types of solutions
  • Lack of studies of the cost and/or cost-effectiveness of RCA
  • Insufficient evidence about the best ways to conduct RCA
  • Lack of organizational control or influence over identified root causes
  • Inadequate or incomplete tracking of implementation of solutions
  • Misidentified causal factors leading to inappropriate and/or ineffective corrective actions

 

Resources

 

 

 

This post is the first in a series about integrating evidence-based practices (EBPs) and root cause analysis into proposals for competitively awarded state and federal educational grants. Its context is the United States of America.

 

Evidence-Based Practices Graphic

 

Tiers of Evidence

 

By one definition, EBPs are “instructional practices, strategies, programs, and interventions that have been shown through rigorous evaluation to be effective at improving outcomes (AIR, 2019, p. 1).” As this decade closes, applications on behalf of low-performing schools must propose to implement at least one EBP. Each selected EBP must demonstrate a statistically significant effect on student outcomes or other relevant outcomes. The same EBP must fall into one of three tiers of evidence, which, in descending order, require:

 

  1. Strong evidence from at last one well-designed and well-implemented experimental study, or
  2. Moderate evidence from at least one well-designed and well-implemented quasi-experimental study, or
  3. Promising evidence from at least one well-designed and well-implemented co-relational study with statistical controls for selection bias

 

Selection Process

 

Identifying and adopting each practice may demand up to eight weeks in advance before a proposal is due. While readily found state and national data may provide key benchmarks, “…Education leaders should ensure that they select EBPs based on a data-driven needs assessment, rigorous evidence, and an appropriate fit with other regional or local criteria (AIR, 2019, p. 14).”

 

During the EBP selection period, various stakeholders in improving academic outcomes of low performing schools can expect to engage in a multi-step process. Each of its steps will take time (e.g., several meetings) to execute and will require options for stakeholder engagement (e.g., in meetings and/or online surveys). Few steps, if any, will afford any shortcuts.

 

Decision-Making Cycle

 

The use of EBPs for school improvement involves a five-phase decision-making cycle (USDE, 2016):

  1. Identify local needs
  2. Select relevant evidence-based interventions
  3. Plan for implementation
  4. Implement interventions
  5. Examine and reflect on interventions

 

Using this schema, all five phases can surface as a topic in the Needs Assessment (Phase 1), Research-Based Rationale (Phase 2), Work Plan (Phases 3, 4, 5), and Evaluation Plan (Phase 5) of a grant proposal.

 

Action Steps

 

Among the steps that grant applicants should anticipate in selecting each EBP are:

 

Action 1 – Review the data and practices to identify improvement areas

  1. Do a data review and interpretation to identify student outcomes that EBPs should address
  2. Do a root-cause analysis to identify strategies for improvement
  3. Create an inventory of current practices and interventions

 

Action 2 – Explore key actions to flag EBPs that meet evidence requirements

  1. Review existing online clearinghouses for potential practices
  2. Do a local review of research (e.g., district evaluation reports, area university studies)

 

Action 3 – Apply other criteria to identify EBPs that meet local priorities

  1. Apply local EBP selection factors (e.g., available infrastructure, fit with priorities, alignment with goals, ability to replicate and bring to scale, and ability to measure progress formatively and summatively)

 

Every action step, and its subordinate steps, can appear – if succinctly stated – under one or several review criteria in a grant proposal narrative, e.g., in Needs Assessment (Action 1), Research-Based Rationale (Actions 1,2,3), Program Design (Action 3), and Evaluation Plan (Action 3).

 

Resources

 

For further exploration of using Evidence-Based Practices in the context of education, see:

 

 

 

 

In any of several ways — both as applicants and clients — educational institutions and non-profit organizations, may recover costs for retaining a consultant to develop a proposal for a Federal grant.

 

Indirect Costs Graphics

 

This post discusses pre-award proposal development cost recovery in Federal grants. It is part of an ongoing series. Other posts discuss other aspects of using consultants in seeking grants.

 

Educational Institutions

 

Federal cost principles offer guidance for applicants that hope to pay for a consultant out of a future grant award. In Appendix A to Part 220 — Principles for Determining Costs Applicable to Grants, Contracts, and Other Agreements with Educational Institutions — the key provisions are J36 (pre-agreement costs) and J38 (proposal costs).

 

In simple terms, a ‘proposal cost’ is a cost of preparing a proposal on a potentially federally funded project, including the cost of developing data necessary to the proposal. An applicant may recover such a cost if the grant-making agency allows and approves recovery of such ‘pre-agreement costs’ in its request for proposals (RFP).

 

In a proposed budget, a line item would appear under the cost category of “Consultants.” For the benefit of the proposal’s peer reviewers and program officers, a meticulous applicant should explain this line item in its budget justification narrative.

 

Indirect Cost Rates

 

A second way for educational institutions to recover costs under Title 2 Part 220 is through an indirect cost rate. Using one, an applicant may recover the pre-application costs of hiring a consultant to develop a proposal to a Federal grant program that does not explicitly pre-approve charging such costs directly to a future grant award in a specific RFP. The applicant must take several steps in order to do so, an applicant must:

 

  • Apply to a Federal agency to establish an indirect cost rate.
  • Spread its pre-application costs (e.g., those for developing a proposal) over its entire indirect cost structure.
  • Apply its costs for preparing each proposal — as represented in its approved indirect cost rate — to each grant it obtains, but only do so when a grant program allows application of an indirect cost rate, since some programs do not.

 

 

All such recovered costs must satisfy the test of being “reasonable and equitable.” The applicant cannot allocate pre-application costs incurred during a previous accounting period into a current accounting period.

 

The use of an indirect cost rate allows the educational institution, as a client and an applicant, to recover its proposal development costs for both successful and unsuccessful grant applications. Federal agencies provide extensive cost determination guidance for calculating indirect cost rates.

 

Non-Profit Organizations

 

A non-profit organization must take a third approach in order to recover pre-award costs for proposal development. Title 2 Part 230, Cost Principles for Non-Profit Organizations — in Appendix A and Appendix B — does not enable a non-profit to adopt the same approach as an educational institution to using indirect costs.

 

Instead, in order to become an allowable cost item, the non-profit must propose pre-award proposal development costs as part of an indirect cost rate proposal. In addition, a cognizant Federal agency — one that negotiates and approves indirect cost rates for a non-profit organization on behalf of all Federal agencies — must approve the non-profit’s proposed indirect cost rate.

 

Fund Development

 

Organizations may also apply for capacity-building grants from private foundations. Among the allowable purposes of such grants is commonly advancing an eligible applicant’s mission through “fund development.” This topic is the focus of another post.

 

This post discusses ordinary and general grant consulting business expenses. It updates an earlier post. Other posts in the series discuss hourly fees and flat fees (also called per-proposal fees or per-project fees), consultant retainer fees and prospect research fees, and proposal review and editing fees.

 

Consulting Expenses Graphics

 

Consulting as Business

 

Grant consulting is a species of independent contracting. It represents a minor form of for-profit business enterprise. Its practitioners — as part of their service contracts — try to recover from clients some of the commonplace costs incidental to their work.

 

Consultants may adjust their hourly rates to reflect working with local versus distant clients. For onsite consulting, they may charge more-distant clients as much as $125 or more per hour. For an onsite visit with nearby clients, they may charge less per hour or even waive such fees entirely, particularly for an initial contact.

 

Travel Expenses

 

In the same way as other types of consultants (e.g., External Evaluators) who are written into a proposal’s budget, grant-writing consultants may charge a per-diem fee for onsite services; these commonly range from $500 to $3,000 per day. Similarly, they also may charge separately for most or all travel expenses incurred. Among such charges are: airfares, taxi fares, public transit fares, lodging, meals and tips, parking, car rental, mileage, and highway tolls. Other consultants don’t disaggregate this way. They simply build such costs of doing business into their overall rates.

 

Some consultants may require a client to prepay certain costs — such as lodging and/or airfare. They may also require a client to reimburse them later for mileage at the Internal Revenue Service rate  in effect at the time of the consultation. In 2019, this rate would be 58.0 cents per mile. Again, other consultants simply build such costs into their overall rates.

 

Per Diem Rates

 

Both clients and consultants may use the General Services Administration (GSA) to estimate reasonable costs for lodging, meals, and incidentals. In using them, they should note that some GSA rates vary by season. They also exclude local and state sales taxes.

 

As examples, as of August 2019, the GSA per-diem rates for Houston, in Harris County, Texas are: lodging $120/day, meals $56/day, and incidental expenses $5/day. For Chicago, in Cook County, Illinois, the per-diem rates are: lodging $183/day, meals $71/day, and incidental expenses $5/day. However, for Concord, in Merrimack County, New Hampshire, the per-diem rates are: lodging $102/day, meals $61/day, and incidental expenses $5/day. These GSA per-diem rates vary both by location and time of year.

 

Rapid Turnarounds

 

Finally, some consultants will try to recover a fee for expediting a grant proposal on a short turnaround time. Such charges for rush delivery, incorporated into fee schedules and contracts, may be $500 to $1,500 or more per proposal. Essentially, they amount to a surcharge for the consultant’s stress in meeting deadlines and a potential lack of sleep. As grant seekers, clients should try to give consultants as much lead-time as possible to avoid these premiums.

 

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