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Monthly Archives: December 2017

This post discusses others’ estimates of the time it takes to develop a competitive grant proposal.

 

In my experience, developing a grant proposal involves three primary processes: social (i.e., planning and coordinating), financial (i.e., developing a budget), and narrative (i.e., writing). Of the estimates found online, most of those for how long it takes to develop a competitive grant proposal focus only on the narrative process and neglect the others.

 

Some Simple Estimates

 

One of the more commonly cited estimates for how long it takes to develop a grant proposal is 120 hours (only for the writing) for ‘a typical proposal’ submitted to the National Science Foundation (NSF) or to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This estimate does not define ‘typical.’

 

Another source found online offers a simple formula – two hours per page for a ‘typical state/federal proposal.’ The source does not define ‘page.’ It also does not define ‘typical.’

 

A third source estimates that it takes anywhere from two hours for two-page proposals to three months for proposals of more than 100 pages. The source does not define ‘months’ in terms of total hours or even in terms of hours per month. It also does not define ‘page.’

 

More Complicated Estimates

 

One of the more illuminating analyses of the time it takes to develop a grant proposal is found here. It does not break out a proposal into its various components or processes; however, it does reflect that projects with larger budgets and longer project periods tend to take more time to develop. The table below recapitulates its analysis.

 

Time Commitment Budget Period Type Funder
120-150 hrs $50k/yr 3 yrs Modest scale research, development, or implementation Federal agency
1,000-2,000 hrs $1m/yr 5 yrs Large scale implementation Federal agency
2,000 hrs + $1m-$3m/yr 5 yrs Very large scale implementation Federal agency
30-50 hrs $10k/yr 3 yrs Modest scale implementation Private foundation
500 hrs + $1m-$5m/yr 1-5 yrs Large scale implementation Private foundation
3-5 hrs < $10k/yr 1-5 yrs Small preliminary proposal Private foundation
10-20 hrs > $100k/yr 1-5 yrs Large preliminary proposal Private foundation

 

An Alternate Estimate

 

An entirely different analysis examines time commitments in terms of the components of a proposal. It estimates three hours per page of proposal narrative. Then it adds: 1.5 hours to outline the RFP, five hours to develop the budget, five hours for the attachments, and six hours for publishing and submitting a grant proposal. For a state or federal proposal that allows or anticipates a 40-page narrative, this will work out to 120 hours (narrative) plus 22.5 hours (all the rest) or a total of 142.5 hours for a typical state or federal grant proposal. At a moderate consultant’s fee of only $60 per hour, this estimate of time commitment amounts to a cost of $8,550.

 

A later post will provide an alternative analysis in terms of proposal processes and proposal components.

 

 

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This new post explores grant writing consultants’ fees in late 2017 for such services as creating funding development plans or devising project evaluation plans. It is part of an ongoing series. Other new posts for late 2017 explore: hourly rates and flat rates, retainer fees, prospect research fees, and other topics related to how grant writing consultants earn an income. The context for the series is the United States of America.

 

Fixed Fee Assignments

 

In late 2017, beyond stating hourly rates, per proposal rates, retainer fees, and proposal review fees, some grant writing consultants also publish cost information about other services. One of the most frequently encountered rates for ancillary services is that for fixed-fee assignments for private sector prospect research and/or private sector proposal development.

 

The costs range from $3,350 to $8,000 – for finding three to five private sector grant leads and/or for writing three to five proposals – to from $5,000 to $9,000 – for finding 10 grant leads and/or for writing 10 proposals. Some consultants offer to find as many as 50 grant leads for $24,000 (equivalent to $480 per lead); grant proposals to submit to those leads cost more.

 

  Minimum Funder Leads Maximum Funder Leads
Consultant/Firm 1 $5,000 10 leads Unstated Unstated
Consultant/Firm 2 $7,500 3 leads Unstated Unstated
Consultant/Firm 3 $3,350 5 leads $24,000 50 leads
Consultant/Firm 4 $5,500 3 leads $7,000 10 leads
Consultant/Firm 5 $8,000 5 leads $9,000 10 leads

 

Strategic Planning Support and Technical Assistance

 

Some grant writing consultants offer to help grant seekers with strategic planning, organizational development, or other technical assistance. Sampled rates vary from $45/hour to $125/hour. Required minimum time commitments are typically 5-10 hours.

 

 Strategic Planning/Technical Assistance Minimum Rates Maximum Rates
Consultant/Firm 1 $2,500 Not stated
Consultant/Firm 2 $2,550 Not stated
Consultant/Firm 3 $45/hour Not stated
Consultant/Firm 4 $65/hour Not stated
Consultant/Firm 5 $85/hour Not stated
Consultant/Firm 6 $100/hour Not stated
Consultant/Firm 7 $110/hour Not stated
Consultant/Firm 8 $125/hour Not stated

 

Grant Writing Workshops

 

Few consultants offer workshops for grant-related staff development. Perhaps one reason for the infrequency of such ancillary services is that they compete directly with associations of non-profits, universities, the Grantsmanship Center, the Foundation Center, and other providers of similar workshops and courses. The current consultants’ workshops may last one to three days. Consultants may charge for them by the half-day (e.g., 3-4 hours at $1,500) or by the day (e.g., 6-8 hours at $3,000) plus itemized expenses. The most frequently cited consultants’ expenses to be billed are those for travel, lodging, and office support (e.g., printing, copying, mailing, or shipping).

 

  Rates Workshop Duration Plus Expenses
Consultant/Firm 1 $100 Half-day Unstated
Consultant/Firm 2 $300 Day Unstated
Consultant/Firm 3 $500 Day Unstated
Consultant/Firm 4 $1,500 Half-day Yes
Consultant/Firm 5 $3,000 Day Yes

 

This is the last post in this series for late 2017.

 

This new post explores consultants’ proposal revision and review fees in late 2017. It is part of an ongoing series. Earlier posts explored hourly rates and flat rates (also called per-proposal rates or per-project rates), prospect research fees, and retainer fees. Other new posts for late 2017 explore hourly rates and flat rates for technical assistance and other topics related to how consultants earn an income. The context for the series is the United States of America.

 

Proposal Reviews and Revisions

 

At times, potential clients of grant writing consultants may already have a grant proposal available in a more or less inchoate form. Consultants may offer to proofread and edit a preliminary or pre-existing proposal rather than insist that they write it from its inception. 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.

 

Consultants often adjust 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. They may offer 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 consultants accept such review-and-revise assignments on a case-by-case basis and do not publish specialized rate schedules for such services.

 

Sample Review and Revision Rates

 

As the table below indicates, in late 2017, flat rates for review and revision – as stated on grant writing consultants’ websites – vary from $200 to $6,000 per grant proposal reviewed and/or revised. Higher-end consultants may charge a minimum of $2,500 (for 10 hours at $250 per hour) for each proposal they critique. All of these are the same rates as were found earlier in 2017 and in 2016.

 

In late 2017, grant writing consultants’ declared hourly rates for reviews and revisions of grant proposals are from $35 to $250. Their median rate is $100 per hour. Many consultants stipulate a set number of hours that they will charge clients for such services – typically, a minimum of 10 hours.

 

As may be observed, consultants’ charges for reviews and revisions often approach 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 $400 $2,000
Consultant/Firm 4 $500 $1,500
Consultant/Firm 5 $500 $1,500
Consultant/Firm 6 $1,000 $1,750
Consultant/Firm 7 $3,000 $5,000
Consultant/Firm 8 $3,000 $6,000
Consultant/Firm 9 $250 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 10 $300 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 11 $1,200 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 12 $1,200 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 13 $1,500 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 14 $1,500 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 15 $2,000 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 17 $2,500 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 18 $35/hour Unstated
Consultant/Firm 19 $45/hour Unstated
Consultant/Firm 20 $65/hour Unstated
Consultant/Firm 21 $85/hour Unstated
Consultant/Firm 22 $100/hour Unstated
Consultant/Firm 23 $100/hour Unstated
Consultant/Firm 24 $125/hour Unstated
Consultant/Firm 25 $125/hour Unstated
Consultant/Firm 26 $150/hour Unstated
Consultant/Firm 27 $250/hour Unstated

 

The next post in this series will discuss consultants’ fees for proposal planning, professional development, and other services in late 2017.

 

This post explores what grant writing consultants charge for retainer fees in late 2017. It is part of an ongoing series. It presents newly researched data. Other new posts for late 2017 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 writing consultants earn an income. The context for the series is the United States of America.

 

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. 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 three, six, or a full year. 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 Retainer Fees

 

As the table below indicates, a retainer fee may cost a client as little as $333 per month or as much as $8,000 per month. Calculated on a quarterly basis, these extremes represent a fee range of $1,000 to $24,000; on a yearly basis, they represent a fee range of $4,000 to $96,000.

 

Retainer Fees Minimum Rates Maximum Rates
Consultant/Firm 1 $333/month $1,600/month
Consultant/Firm 2 $1,500/month $3,000/month
Consultant/Firm 3 $1,875/month $3,000/month
Consultant/Firm 4 $2,000/month $3,000/month
Consultant/Firm 5 $3,000/month $5,000/month
Consultant/Firm 6 $3,000/month $5,000/month
Consultant/Firm 7 $6,000/month $8,000/month
Consultant/Firm 8 $125/month Unstated
Consultant/Firm 9 $850/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 late 2017 which address the topic of retainer fees. They appear to reflect some volatility or elasticity in such fees since 2016. 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 2017.

 

This post explores grant consultants’ prospect research fees in late 2017. It updates earlier posts made in 2016 and 2017. It is part of an ongoing series. Other new posts for late 2017 explore 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 context for the series is the United States of America.

 

Prospect Research Fees

 

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. Often grant writing consultants offer 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 may adjust 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 may 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 vary widely. As the table below indicates, they can range from $250 to $5,000 per funding report. The ultimate cost of such searches may observe a pre-established not-to-exceed amount. In late 2017, evaluations of identified grant leads – held either on-site or conducted remotely with a client – may be charged at hourly rates of from $50 to $150 or more.

 

Prospect Research Fees Minimum Rates Maximum Rates
Consultant/Firm 1 $250 $1,000
Consultant/Firm 2 $500 $700
Consultant/Firm 3 $500 $3,200
Consultant/Firm 4 $750 $5,000
Consultant/Firm 5 $2,000 $4,000
Consultant/Firm 6 $2,000 $4,000
Consultant/Firm 7 $2,000 $5,000
Consultant/Firm 8 $2,400 $4,800
Consultant/Firm 9 $2,500 $5,000
Consultant/Firm 10 $350 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 11 $375 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 12 $400 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 13 $500 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 14 $500 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 15 $500 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 16 $1,500 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 17 $1,500 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 18 $50/hour Unstated
Consultant/Firm 19 $50/hour Unstated
Consultant/Firm 20 $50/hour Unstated
Consultant/Firm 21 $60/hour Unstated
Consultant/Firm 22 $100/hour Unstated
Consultant/Firm 23 $150/hour Unstated

 

Charges for prospect research vary with its nature, scope, and complexity. Private grant makers are far more numerous than public ones; thus, they may require more time for a search. In general, potential grant seekers can 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 consultants’ retainer fees in late 2017.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This review of data from websites in late 2017 finds that grant consultants’ hourly rates and flat rates (also called per-proposal rates or per-project rates), which they charge for services, have increased marginally during 2017. It is part of a series for late 2017. Other posts in the ongoing series explore: retainer rates, prospect research rates, proposal review and editing rates, and other topics related to how grant consultants earn an income. The context for this series is the United States of America.

 

Hourly Rates

 

Hourly rates for writing grant proposals vary greatly. According to PayScale.com, as of late 2017, the hourly pay rates for a self-selected sample of salaried Grant Writers vary by stage of career. For early career, the range is $12.77 to $37.64; for mid-career, the range is $16.39 to $55.00; for experienced, the range is $19.73 to $77.42; and for late career, the range is $22.20 to $101.86.

 

The range of self-reported bonuses varies also, with larger bonuses continuing to be reported for mid-career salaried Grant Writers than for late career or for early career.

 

In late 2017, grant writing 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 $85 per hour, which is $5 more per hour than in early 2017. Most sampled rates fall between $75 and $100 per hour, which amounts to $1,500 to $2,000 for every 20 billable hours.

 

Some grant writing 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 (e.g., grants management or project evaluation). 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).

 

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 adjust their rates based on the type of grant maker. Other consultants do not adjust their rates based on the type of grant maker.

 

Flat Rates

 

An alternative to charging by the hour is to charge a flat rate (also called a per proposal rate or a per project rate). Grant writing 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 full-length grant proposal to be sent to a government agency.

 

As the table below indicates, the floor that some grant writing consultants quote for a basic proposal (typically for a private foundation) may be as low as $500 – or even less. Other consultants may set the floor at $5,000, $12,500, or $35,000. The ceilings quoted for a more complicated proposal may be $10,000 or $12,000; however, such flat-rate ceilings may reach $15,000, $40,000, 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.

 

Grant Writing Services Min. Flat Rates Max. Flat Rates
Consultant/Firm 1 $300 $1,500
Consultant/Firm 2 $500 $2,000
Consultant/Firm 3 $500 $3,000
Consultant/Firm 4 $500 $7,500
Consultant/Firm 5 $600 $8,000
Consultant/Firm 6 $1,000 $3,500
Consultant/Firm 7 $1,000 $6,000
Consultant/Firm 8 $1,000 $8,000
Consultant/Firm 9 $1,500 $6,000
Consultant/Firm 10 $1,500 $6,500
Consultant/Firm 11 $1,500 $7,000
Consultant/Firm 12 $1,500 $7,500
Consultant/Firm 13 $1,500 $8,000
Consultant/Firm 14 $1,500 $10,000
Consultant/Firm 15 $2,500 $7,500
Consultant/Firm 16 $2,500 $10,900
Consultant/Firm 17 $2,500 $12,000
Consultant/Firm 18 $3,000 $4,000
Consultant/Firm 19 $3,500 $7,500
Consultant/Firm 20 $3,500 $10,000
Consultant/Firm 21 $5,000 $12,000
Consultant/Firm 22 $5,000 $15,000
Consultant/Firm 23 $5,000 $15,000
Consultant/Firm 24 $6,000 $15,000
Consultant/Firm 25 $7,500 $12,500
Consultant/Firm 26 $12,500 $16,500
Consultant/Firm 27 $18,000 $40,000
Consultant/Firm 28 $35,000 $60,000
Consultant/Firm 29 $1,000 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 30 $1,500 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 31 $1,500 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 32 $2,250 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 33 $4,000 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 34 $11,500 Unstated

 

In late 2017, grant writing consultants often require advance payment in full if the contracted flat rate falls below a predefined threshold. The most frequently stated threshold – $3,000 plus or minus $500 – is the same as it has been in early 2017, in 2016, and in 2015. 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.

 

Many consultants provide hourly rates, typically as an alternative to flat rates and sometimes in addition to flat rates. Such hourly rates may be one definite amount or they may cover a range, where which rate will apply will depend upon the nature of services to be performed. In late 2017, most of the hourly rates found in an online search are $75 to $100, with a median rate of $85.

 

Grant Writing Services Min. Hourly Rates Max. Hourly Rates
Consultant/Firm 1 $50 $60
Consultant/Firm 2 $50 $65
Consultant/Firm 3 $70 $200
Consultant/Firm 4 $85 $110
Consultant/Firm 5 $100 $130
Consultant/Firm 6 $100 $150
Consultant/Firm 7 $35 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 8 $45 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 9 $50 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 10 $60 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 11 $65 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 $80 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 18 $85 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 19 $90 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 20 $95 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 21 $100 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 22 $100 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 23 $100 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 24 $120 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 25 $120 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 26 $120 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 27 $125 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 28 $125 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 29 $125 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 30 $125 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 31 $125 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 32 $125 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 33 $150 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 34 $200 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 35 $250 Unstated

 

The next post in this series will discuss consultants’ prospect research fees in late 2017.

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