This new review of websites in early 2016 reveals that grant consultants’ hourly rates and flat rates (also called per-proposal rates or per-project rates) vary greatly. It is part of an ongoing series. Other new posts for 2016 will cover: retainer rates, prospect research rates, proposal review and editing rates, and other topics related to how grant consultants earn an income.
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 consultants vary their rates based on the type of grant maker. Other consultants do not differentiate among types of grant makers.
Hourly rates for writing grant proposals vary greatly. According to PayScale.com, as of early 2016, the hourly pay rates for a self-selected sample of salaried Grant Writers vary by stage of career. For early career, the range is $12.11 to $38.95; for mid-career, the range is $18.34 to $50.91; for experienced, the range is $17.64 to $70.03; and for late career, the range is $15.01 to $86.48. The range of self-reported bonuses varies, with larger bonuses reported for mid-career than for late career or for early career.
In early 2016, consultants’ hourly rates tend to be higher than those of many 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 stretch from $35 per hour to $250 per hour. The median for sampled rates is $95 per hour, the same as in 2015. Most sampled rates fall between $65 and $120 per hour, which is $1,300 to $2,400 for every 20 billable hours.
Some consultants offer lower rates for non-profit clients versus other types of clients. They also offer lower rates for writing grant proposals versus other kinds of grant-related services. In addition, some consultants specify a minimum number of hours (e.g., 20 hours at $100/hour) or a minimum not-to-exceed amount (e.g., $10,000).
An alternative to charging by the hour is to charge a flat rate (also called a per proposal rate or a per project rate). Consultants often indicate that they will need to do a thorough analysis of the details of a grant opportunity before quoting a flat rate.
Consultants’ actual flat rates vary 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 vary their rates by the type of grant source: foundation, corporation, state, federal. Some consultants also vary their rates by the nature of the proposal document – a letter of inquiry, a letter of intent to apply, and a corporate solicitation letter tend to cost considerably less than a grant proposal to be sent to a government agency.
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As the table indicates, the floor that some consultants quote for a basic proposal (typically for a private foundation) may be $500 or so. Other consultants may start at $6,000 or $11,500. The ceiling quoted for a more complicated proposal may be $10,000 or $12,000; however, such flat-rate ceilings may be reach $15,000 or even $60,000. Beyond such wide variations in quoted flat rates, consultants may charge a premium for preparing a proposal with a very short lead-time before it is due, regardless of its source.
In 2016, grant writing consultants often require advance payment in full if the contracted flat rate fell below a predefined threshold. The most frequently stated threshold is the same as in 2015 – $3,000 plus or minus $500. If the flat rate exceeds a given threshold, consultants generally require 50% of the total contract to be paid in advance. They make the balances due either upon delivery of the completed proposal or within either 15 days or 30 days after delivery.