Based on a new review (April 2014) of grant writing consultants’ websites, hourly rates and flat rates (also called per-proposal rates or per-project rates) continue to vary widely as the decade progresses. As was the case in 2013, later posts during 2014 will discuss: retainer rates, prospect research rates, proposal review and editing rates, and other related topics.
Proposals submitted to corporations or foundations tend to be significantly less complex (and thus generally less costly for clients) than those submitted to units of local, state, or federal government. Consequently, some consultants vary their rates based on the type of grant maker. Other consultants do not appear to differentiate among types of grant makers.
Hourly rates for writing grant proposals vary greatly. According to PayScale.com, as of early 2014, the hourly pay rates for a self-selected sample of salaried Grant Writers vary by years of experience. For entry level (0-4 years), the range is $11.82 to $35.03; for early career (5-9 years), the range is $15.60 to $50.96; for mid-career (10-19 years), the range is $16.11 to $60.82; and for late career (20+ years), the range is $14.60 to $75.00. Bonuses reflect stage of career (years of experience). They range from $0 to $3,023 for the least experienced, to from $0 to $5,087 for early career, to from $0 to $7,796 for mid-career, to from $0 to $8,109 for late career. Naturally, bonuses, if awarded, modify the effective hourly rate.
Consultants’ hourly rates tend to be higher than those of salaried Grant Writers. Based on a fresh review of websites of consultants doing business across the United States, the most frequently stated rates are $50 and $65 per hour. In early 2014, the standard rates billed to clients for grant writing and related consulting services range from a low of $25 per hour to a high of $200 per hour. Most rates range between $65 and $100 per hour. The midrange of hourly rates equates to $1,300 to $2,000 per 20 billable hours. One should note that many consultants do not post specific fee information on their websites.
Some consultants state lower rates for non-profit clients versus other types of clients, and for grant writing versus other kinds of grant-related services. In addition, some consultants specify a minimum number of hours (e.g., 10 hours at $100/hour) or a minimum not-to-exceed amount (e.g., $4,000).
An alternative to charging by the hour is to charge a flat rate (also called a per proposal rate or a per project rate). The 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, with a letter of inquiry, a letter of intent to apply, and a corporate solicitation letter costing considerably less than a grant proposal.
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As the table indicates, the floor quoted for a basic proposal may be as low as $195 or $400. Some consultants set the floor as high as $3,700 or $6,000. The ceiling quoted for a more complicated proposal may be as high as $8,000; however, such flat fees may surpass $15,000 or even $20,000. Beyond such 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 early 2014, grant writing consultants often required advance payment in full if the contracted flat rate fell below a predefined threshold. The most frequently specified threshold was $3,000 plus or minus $500. If the flat rate exceeded a given threshold, consultants generally required 50% of the total contract to be paid in advance. They made the balances due either upon delivery of the completed proposal or within either 15 days or 30 days afterwards.