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This is another one of an ongoing series of posts on Grant Writing as a Career. It discusses ordinary and general consulting business expenses. Earlier posts discussed 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.


Grant Consulting as a Business:

Grant consulting is often a species of independent contracting and represents at least a minor form of for-profit business enterprise. As part of their service contracts, its practitioners thus try to recover from clients some of the mundane 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 $100 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 Expense Recovery:

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 $2,000 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 2012, this rate would be 55.5 cents per mile. Again, other consultants simply build such costs into their overall 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 need to recall that GSA rates exclude local and state sales taxes. As examples, the GSA per-diem rates for Houston, in Harris County, Texas (for September, 2012) are: lodging $109/day, meals $66/day, and incidental expenses $5/day. For Chicago, in Cook County, Illinois, the per-diem rates are: lodging $190/day, meals $66/day, and incidental expenses $5/day. However, for Albuquerque, in Bernalillo County, New Mexico, the per-diem rates are: lodging $81/day, meals $51/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 $1,000 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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