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This post explores grant writing consultants’ retainer fees in early 2017. It is part of an ongoing series. The data that it presents are newly researched. Other new posts for 2017 will explore 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 consultants earn an income. The context for all posts in this series will be the United States of America.

Retainer Fees

A retainer fee offers clients priority access to consultants’ services. Many grant 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. A typical retainer commits 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 is 10 hours per month and the minimum number of months is either 3 or 6. Often the retainer is paid monthly. In setting their retainer fees, some consultants offer discounts off their standard hourly rates.

Services agreed upon in the retainer will depend upon the specific contract. Among such services may 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 Retainers

As the table below indicates, a retainer fee may cost as little as $100 per month or as much as $12,000 per month. Calculated on a quarterly basis, these extremes represent a fee range of $300 to $36,000; on a yearly basis, they represent a fee range of $1,200 to $144,000.

Retainer Fees Minimum Rates Maximum Rates
Consultant/Firm 1 $100/month $3,000/month
Consultant/Firm 2 $400/month $800/month
Consultant/Firm 3 $1,500/month $3,000/month
Consultant/Firm 4 $1,875/month $3,000/month
Consultant/Firm 5 $2,000/month $3,000/month
Consultant/Firm 6 $3,000/month $5,000/month
Consultant/Firm 7 $6,000/month $8,000/month
Consultant/Firm 8 $8,000/month $12,000/month
Consultant/Firm 9 $1,000/month Unstated
Consultant/Firm 10 $1,000/month Unstated
Consultant/Firm 11 $3,000/month Unstated


Presented data reflect information provided on a sampled set of consultants’ websites from early 2017 which address the topic of retainer fees. They reflect little change in such fees since 2016. Other samples taken at different times may lead to different results.


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