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This post explores what Grants/Proposal Writers are paid as compensation in terms of median salaries in major cities in all 50 states and in the nation’s capital. It presents data for late 2017. Other posts for late 2017 will explore hourly rates and flat fees, retainer fees, review and revision fees, and other aspects of the compensation of writers of grant proposals. All data will be for the United States of America.


Median Salaries for Grants/Proposal Writers

What Grants/Proposal Writers earn reflects many factors. Among them are years of experience, level of educational attainment, geographic location, and the nature of the employer.


As of late 2017, has reported that the national median annual salary for “Grants/Proposal Writers” was $66,521. The middle 20 cities selected for exploration here earned medians from $64,991 to $70,779; the bottom 10 selected cities earned medians of $63,062 or less; and the top 10 selected cities earned medians of $74,704 or more. These base salaries represented about 71% of total compensation; the other 29% of total compensation were fringe benefits and bonuses.


% National Median Salary-2


Calculated on a full 52-week year, the same national median annual salary works out to $1,279.25 per week, and the range for the cities’ medians is $1,055.38 to $1,536.38 per week. Calculated over a 2,080-hour work-year, the same national median annual salary works out to $31.98 per hour, and the range for the cities becomes from $26.38 per hour to $38.41 per hour.


Median Salaries By Selected Cities

As of late 2017, “median annual salaries” in 51 selected cities searched on ranged from $54,880 in Pierre, SD to $79,892 in New York City, NY. Most of the medians for these cities fell in the range of $62,000 to $68,000.


Median Annual Salaries — 2017 Data Comparisons Data As % of 2017 National Median
USA $66,521 100.0%
New England States
Hartford CT $71,710 107.8%
Portland, ME $67,187 101.0%
Boston, MA $75,701 113.8%
Manchester, NH $70,247 105.6%
Providence, RI $70,466 105.9%
Burlington, VT $65,657 98.7%
Mid-Atlantic States
Dover, DE $70,779 106.4%
Washington, DC $73,373 110.3%
Baltimore, MD $68,251 102.6%
Newark, NJ $75,967 114.2%
New York, NY $79,892 120.1%
Philadelphia, PA $71,577 107.6%
Charleston, WV $60,668 91.2%
Midwestern States
Chicago, IL $70,513 106.0%
Indianapolis, IN $64,991 97.7%
Louisville, KY $63,062 94.8%
Detroit, MI $68,517 103.0%
Columbus, OH $65,590 98.6%
Great Plains States
Des Moines, IA $64,260 96.6%
Kansas City, KS $65,457 98.4%
Minneapolis, MN $70,978 106.7%
St. Louis, MO $65,391 98.3%
Lincoln, NE $62,530 94.0%
Bismarck, ND $62,064 93.3%
Pierre, SD $54,880 82.5%
Milwaukee, WI $66,189 99.5%
Northwestern States
Anchorage, AK $75,568 113.6%
Boise, ID $63,129 94.9%
Great Falls, MT $57,674 86.7%
Portland, OR $69,847 105.0%
Seattle, WA $72,774 109.4%
Casper, WY $61,865 93.0%
Southeastern States
Birmingham, AL $63,129 94.9%
Little Rock, AR $61,532 92.5%
Jacksonville, FL $63,861 96.0%
Atlanta, GA $65,524 98.5%
New Orleans, LA $66,056 99.3%
Jackson, MS $59,204 89.0%
Charlotte, NC $65,191 98.0%
Charleston, SC $62,796 94.4%
Nashville, TN $61,665 92.7%
Richmond, VA $66,721 100.3%
Southwestern States
Phoenix, AZ $65,923 99.1%
Los Angeles, CA $74,704 112.3%
Denver, CO $67,253 101.1%
Honolulu, HI $69,382 104.3%
Las Vegas, NV $69,315 104.2%
Albuquerque, NM $62,131 93.4%
Okla. City, OK $63,195 95.0%
Houston, TX $67,320 101.2%
Salt Lake City, UT $63,062 94.8%


It may be worth noting that median annual salaries in late 2017 were no more uniform within most states than they were across the country. Out of the 51 selected cities presented in the table, 28 cities were below the national median and another city was only $200 above the national median.




This new post explores grant writing consultants’ success rates (also called ‘win rates’ or ‘hit rates’ or ‘funding rates’) for proposals for grant funding, as publicized on their websites in late 2017. It revisits the topic of an earlier post. The post is part of an occasional series about metrics for effectiveness in grant seeking.


Benchmarks for Comparison


Grant writing consultants who post their success rates online seem to be peculiarly high achievers. As benchmarks for comparisons with their own (much higher) rates, several grant consultants’ websites cite average success rates for all grant seekers of only 8.5%, 10%, 17%, 20%, 30%, or 50%. When they don’t cite a specific average rate, other grant writing consultants’ websites cite benchmark success rates that fall within narrow ranges such as 5-20%, 20-30%, or 25-50%. Whether stated as definite ratios or as ranges, the benchmark rates stated on the websites are always much lower than the consultants’ declared rates.


Metric: Rates Within or Across Programs


Most grant writing consultants are specialists. Few are generalists. Some websites provide the source of consultants’ grant awards as a context or basis for calculating their success rates. Thus, the rates may reflect only foundation grants or only government grants in general or only grants from one specific federal grant-making agency or even only grants from one specific federal grant program. Many other grant consultants are not so specific about the types of grant makers that are the sources of their grant awards and the basis of their success rates.


A small but noteworthy fraction of the consultants’ websites provides more detail in the form of lists of grants that the consultants have won. Such lists often present the grant-makers, the grant programs, the years awarded, and the amounts awarded. At times, the lists go back nearly two decades.


Metric: Rates Over Time


Some grant writing consultants calculate and present single-year win rates. Typically, such rates are for the most recent calendar year or even the most recent 12 months. This shorter-term metric implies that although past years’ rates may have been lower, the more recent few years’ rates are higher and future years’ rates are likely to be at least as high. Other consultants calculate and present rates over a career lasting two decades or longer. This longer-term metric implies that although there may have been dips from year to year in the past, overall funding rates over the long haul have been high and are likely to remain high for well into the future. Both metrics use past performance to encourage potential clients to forecast future funding results and to retain the consultants’ services based on that happy forecast.


Ranking Grant Writers Along a Spectrum


Some grant writing consultants rank all grant writers’ success rates in bands along a spectrum. One such consultant offers only two thresholds in its spectrum for ranking grant writers – 30% funded as ‘Good’, 50% funded as ‘Great’. The bands along this simple spectrum use intervals of three different sizes.


A different grant writing consultant’s website offers more bands in its spectrum – 0-29% funded as ‘Failure’, 30-49% funded as ‘Barely Performing’, 50-74% funded as ‘Satisfactory’, 75-90% funded as ‘Good’, and 91-100% funded as ‘Guru’. The bands along this five-interval spectrum use intervals of five different sizes. The threshold for being ranked as a ‘good’ grant writer is 2½ times as high as in the three-interval spectrum.


The table displays grant writing consultants’ success rates found in a search of websites in October 2017. It then applies the rankings used in the two spectra (identified here as Spectrum A and Spectrum B). In the table, the median success rate is >80%. The range is 33% to 100%. Most success rates (20 of the 25) are so exact that they do not seem to be mere estimates. The remaining rates (five of the 25) are less exact (as indicated by the > sign) and thus do appear to be only estimates.


Consultant/Firm Rate Spectrum A Ranking Spectrum B Ranking
Consultant/Firm 1 >33% Good Barely Performing
Consultant/Firm 2 45% Good Satisfactory
Consultant/Firm 3 60% Great Satisfactory
Consultant/Firm 4 65% Great Satisfactory
Consultant/Firm 5 65% Great Satisfactory
Consultant/Firm 6 70% Great Satisfactory
Consultant/Firm 7 75.7% Great Satisfactory
Consultant/Firm 8 76.5% Great Satisfactory
Consultant/Firm 9 80% Great Good
Consultant/Firm 10 80% Great Good
Consultant/Firm 11 80% Great Good
Consultant/Firm 12 >80% Great Good
Consultant/Firm 13 >80% Great Good
Consultant/Firm 14 85% Great Good
Consultant/Firm 15 85% Great Good
Consultant/Firm 16 >85% Great Good
Consultant/Firm 17 90% Great Guru
Consultant/Firm 18 92% Great Guru
Consultant/Firm 19 93% Great Guru
Consultant/Firm 20 94% Great Guru
Consultant/Firm 21 >95% Great Guru
Consultant/Firm 22 96% Great Guru
Consultant/Firm 23 97% Great Guru
Consultant/Firm 24 100% Great Guru
Consultant/Firm 25 100% Great Guru


Success Rates Graphics


If one applies the three-interval spectrum to the grant writing success rates found on websites, then 23 out of 25 (or 92%) of the consultants/firms that post their success rates have Great rates. By contrast, if one applies the five-interval spectrum, then just nine out of 25 (or 36%) of the same consultants/firms that post their success rates online would have Guru rates and eight others would have merely Good rates. It appears that every grant ‘guru’ is a ‘great’ grant consultant/firm, but not every ‘great’ grant consultant/firm is a grant ‘guru’.






This post presents when Grant Writers work. Its context is the United States of America. Other posts in the series will present where they work, what they do, what tools they use, what skills they need, and common career paths.


When Grant Writers Work

Grant Writers may be employed full-time or part-time and may work as exempt or non-exempt employees. A full-time position is usually one that is 30-40 hours per week. An exempt position is on that is not paid more for working overtime, which normally means anything past 40 hours per week. Grant Writers may also work as independent consultants. As consultants they may work any number of hours per week and never get any overtime pay.


Calendar Graphic


Both as salaried employees and as consultants on a contract Grant Writers may work 40 or more regular hours each week, or 2,080 or more hours each year. They also may work extended hours when preparing complex proposals, when creating several proposals at once, and/or when facing two or more back-to-back deadlines.


Many Grant Writers work on contracts as independent consultants or freelance writers. Such persons often provide grant proposal development as one service from a menu of services in fundraising or organizational development. They may charge by the hour or by the project or they may work on a retainer.


Grant deadlines often come stacked one on top of the other. This can happen anytime, but it happens particularly near the end of some state and federal agencies’ fiscal years. Whenever it happens, Grant Writers tend to put in more hours than usual. During less hectic periods, many Grant Writers pursue prospect research, or they may recruit new clients if they work as consultants, or they may do both.


Working Hours

Consultants set their own hours, but they also need to be available when others are at work, which ordinarily means weekdays from 8am-5pm. Those Grant Writers who are on payroll usually report for work on weekdays. They remain at work from 8am-5pm. Typically, they tend to have a half-hour or an hour off for lunch each day.


Total time that Grant Writers work per proposal varies greatly. It can range from five to ten hours per short proposal (from one to five pages) to 200-plus hours per long proposal (from 25 to 300 or more pages). During any given seven-day span (or calendar week), the total hours that Grant Writers work can be as few as ten or fewer hours or as many as 100-plus hours.


If writing to a fixed deadline, which often happens, Grant Writers often need to work when others don’t. They may need to work during all or parts of secular and religious holidays. They may need to work on anniversaries. They may need to work on personal and family members’ birthdays. They also may need to work during school vacations, summer vacations, and other periods that other types of workers and/or family members may take off from work.

This post presents where Grant Writers work. Others in the series will present when they work, what they do, what tools they use, what skills they need, and common career paths.


The context of this post is the United States of America. One should note, however, that Grant Writers also work (in similar circumstances) in many other countries around the world.


Where Grant Writers Work

Grant Writers work in many kinds of organizations, large and small. They work in cities, suburbs, and rural towns. Many Grant Writers work in offices; others work at home or on the road as consultants.


Many of the non-profit and community-based organizations where Grant Writers work may have fewer than 50 employees. Other kinds of organizations where they work – such as school districts and local or state governments – may have more than 2,000 employees. If Grant Writers work as consultants, they may work alone or as part of a consulting firm with any number of other consultants.


Among the typical kinds of organizations where Grant Writers work are:

  • Universities and colleges (institutions of higher education)
  • Non-profit organizations
  • Community-based organizations
  • Multifunctional service agencies
  • School districts (particularly larger ones)
  • Federally recognized American Indian tribes and nations
  • Local and state units of government
  • For-profit corporations
  • Consulting firms


Where Gr Wr Work Graphic


In the United States of America, the geographic distribution of Grant Writers is largely consistent with general population distribution. As one might expect, larger cities and larger metropolitan areas tend to have more opportunities for Grant Writers than the smaller ones. Among such larger metro areas with more numerous Grant Writers in 2017 are New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Minneapolis, Houston, Dallas, Atlanta, Miami, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, Phoenix, Seattle, San Diego, San Jose, and San Francisco.


In addition, the country’s more populous states tend to have more Grant Writers than the less populous ones. Among such states in 2017 are California, Texas, Florida, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Georgia, North Carolina, and Michigan.


Despite these urban distribution tendencies, Grant Writers also often work in high-poverty rural areas where social and economic needs are both chronic and acute.



This post presents some of the tools and skills used in grant writing. Others in the series will present what Grant Writers do, where and when they work, and common career paths.


Grant Writers need a specific set of tools and skills to be effective at winning competitively awarded grants. With the exception of some specialized databases, grant makers’ websites, and grants management software, none of them is unique to the pursuit of grant writing


Tools and Skills Graphics


Essential Tools


In the late 2010s, all Grant Writers use hardware and software in many facets of their work. Among commonly used types of hardware are:

  • Laptop computers
  • Tablets
  • Handheld calculators
  • Cell phones


Among commonly used types of software are:

  • Internet browsers
  • Applications to support prospect research, grants management, email, databases, word-processing, calendars, teleconferencing, and presentations
  • Online calculators
  • Grant application portals


Technologies change and Grant Writers must adjust to their changes. Grant Writers need to be comfortable with constant change in and among the technologies that they use daily. Among formerly often used technologies now increasingly out of use are:

  • Printers
  • Photocopiers
  • Facsimile machines
  • Desktop computers


Grant Writers need to know how to use the full range of contemporary telecommunications software and devices. They must be comfortable with devices used for creating and making presentations, such as digital cameras and projectors, and related software. And they should know all of their options among both traditional modes (e.g., UPS, USPS, FedEx) and new platforms ( and foundations’ online application forms) for submitting timely proposals.


Essential Skills


Among the most basic skills that Grant Writers should have are to:

  • Listen attentively
  • Ask key questions
  • Engage in teamwork
  • Negotiate
  • Think strategically
  • Write and edit
  • Research
  • Organize
  • Coordinate
  • Budget
  • Calculate
  • Plan
  • Reason persuasively
  • Build rapport
  • Build relationships
  • Facilitate and lead meetings
  • Manage time effectively
  • Prioritize and sequence tasks
  • Concentrate efforts
  • Forecast
  • Analyze
  • Interpret
  • Follow instructions
  • Attend to details

This post presents what Grant Writers do. Others in the series will present where and when they work, the tools that they use, the basic skills they need, and common career paths.


What Grant Writers Do

What Grant Writers do each day on the job depends upon where they work, with whom they work, what resources they have at hand for doing their work, what other roles they have in an organization, and what their contracts and position descriptions specify.


What Gr Wr Do Graphics


Despite the job title, there is far more than only writing to what Grant Writers do. The typical tasks that Grant Writers perform daily reflect tasks in the three processes entailed in competitive grant seeking: social, financial, and narrative. Put differently, they require a combination of collaboration, calculation, and communication.


Collaboration (Social Tasks)

Among the Grant Writer’s typical tasks in the social process (collaboration) are:

  • Confer and consult with executive leadership
  • Coordinate with subject area experts and other key individuals
  • Coordinate with partnering organizations and other stakeholders
  • Manage appointment and deadline calendars
  • Lead multidisciplinary planning sessions
  • Speak publicly before small and large groups
  • Explain proposal elements and their rationales
  • Explain grant program requirements
  • Prepare proposal status reports
  • Organize and lead pre-submission proposal reviews


Calculation (Financial Tasks)

Among the Grant Writer’s typical tasks in the financial process (calculation) are:

  • Track best practices in grant seeking, cultivation, and stewardship
  • Monitor and research grant options
  • Track trends and innovations in grant making
  • Recommend grant and other funding alternatives
  • Research proposal-related budget items
  • Develop and justify detailed budgets
  • Negotiate budget components and grant awards


Communication (Narrative Tasks)

Among the Grant Writer’s typical tasks in the narrative process (communication) are:

  • Use business office technologies and applications
  • Analyze and interpret proposal solicitations
  • Analyze and interpret regulations and statutes
  • Navigate grant makers’ websites
  • Collect and analyze data
  • Manage information and data
  • Write and edit narratives and related materials
  • Review proposals for completeness and accuracy
  • Fill out online and printed application forms
  • Submit proposals or prepare them for submissions


In sum, the job title of Grant Writer is a misnomer. It is not merely writing. What the occupation in fact requires are specific complementary skills – in communication, collaboration, and calculation.


This post presents common career paths for Grant Writers. Others in the series will present what Grant Writers do, where and when they work, the tools that they use, and the basic skills they need.


There is no single universal career path. What Grant Writers do before they become Grant Writers, and what they do afterwards, varies considerably. Many persons learn how to write proposals as volunteers. Many others do it as just one facet of their jobs. After writing proposals on-staff for a number of years, many Grant Writers become independent consultants; others migrate to other aspects of fundraising or move into grant and contract management positions.


Career Paths

There are almost as many ways to enter grant writing as Grant Writers. One among them is to volunteer for a human services organization. Another way is to take an undergraduate or professional development course and make job connections through it. A third way is to help someone else in writing one or more (hopefully funded) proposals. What comes as the next step after one has apprenticed as a Grant Writer also varies considerably.


Grant Writers may start out with one of several similar job titles. With years of experience, generally, their pay will move toward the upper ends of the ranges, so long as they remain in the same occupation.

  • Grant Writer: $32,858 to $64,738
  • Grants Specialist: $36,098 to $68,078
  • Grant Proposal Writer: $58,496 to $73,351
  • Proposal Writer: $39,661 to $74,959


Entry-Level Positions


Since grant writing is one type of fundraising, and since a Grant Writer needs to get broad overviews of client and employer organizations, some Grant Writers become fundraising generalists. Other Grant Writers move into executive leadership positions at non-profit organizations (NPOs). Among these positions (and their pay ranges) are:

  • Development Coordinator (at an NPO): $30,386 to $50,137
  • Development Manager (at an NPO): $36,268 to $65,667
  • Development Director (at an NPO): $39,387 to $97,481
  • Executive Director (at an NPO): $36,977 to $116,439
  • Chief Development Officer: $72,493 to $176,271


NonProfit Posiitons Graphic


Some Grant Writers simply move on to more advanced, grant-focused roles. These roles often combine leadership and administration with the usual writing tasks. Such positions often involve more compliance monitoring, fiscal management, and fiscal accountability in the job’s duties and responsibilities. Among these positions are:

  • Senior Grant Writer: $48,848 to $80,000
  • Grants/Contracts Specialist: $38,786 to $68,641
  • Grants Director: $43,948 to $101,491
  • Grants Administrator: $39,213 to $76,827
  • Grants/Proposals Manager: $38,908 to $78,674


Advanced Positions Graphic


Other Grant Writers may be hired to work for one or more of their funded projects or for programs that include such projects. Typical management and administrative roles in such situations include:

  • Program Director/Principal Investigator: $34,400 to $82,426
  • Program Manager: $34,820 to $70,901


Sooner or later, many productive Grant Writers who start as internal employees will accept invitations to do some consulting. Some of them will set up shop formally as independent contractors on an ad hoc basis. Some of these same Grant Writers will become full-time consultants. Among such consulting roles are:

  • Training Consultant: $43,631 to $98,191
  • Program Evaluator: $36,452 to $82,127


All data reflect compensation in late 2016. Further information about what Grant Writers earn and their common career paths is at PayScale or eHow or Salary.


All factual material presented here is intended strictly for informational purposes only.

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