Skip navigation

Tag Archives: grant seeking

This is the last of three posts on using foundation directories in prospect research. It covers: trustees/directors, financial data, and selected grants.


Directories Graphic 3




Sometimes, as popular wisdom has it, it’s not what you know it’s whom you know. If someone connected to an applicant organization (e.g., an executive director or a member of a board of directors) knows personally someone connected to a foundation (e.g., a director or a trustee), it may improve the applicant’s odds of getting a grant.


A well-placed connection on a foundation’s board of directors may be willing to advocate on behalf of a grant for a specific applicant. If not actual advocacy, the same connection may be willing to share deeper insights into what the foundation’s decision-makers favor in a grant proposal. Although the absence of a well-placed advocate is not a reason to forgo a grant opportunity, its presence can prove helpful.


Financial Data


Smaller foundations tend to have lesser financial assets and to award fewer grants than larger ones. They also tend to award smaller amounts in each grant or to award grants only to pre-selected (or invited) applicants.


No matter who does the work, preparing a proposal costs an applicant time and money. It may get a greater return on its investment if it seeks a single grant of $50,000 rather than using the same proposal to seek ten grants each for a tenth as much. However, if all an applicant needs is a grant of $5,000, it should not request one for $50,000.


Selected Grants


Entries in a foundation directory may list sample recent grant awards. Such lists seldom present every grant award a foundation has made in a recent year.


Look at the amounts awarded and the nature of the recipients. If at least one recipient is similar to the applicant and if the amounts are similar to what the applicant needs, then add the funder to a list of possible grant makers. Look up the funder’s website and/or at its annual 990-PF or 990 filings. Both places will list every grant it made in a given reporting period and will confirm (or disconfirm) the foundation as a possible funder.



This is the second of three posts on using foundation directories in prospect research. It covers: deadlines, purposes and activities, and fields of interest.


Directories Graphic 2




Some foundations award grants yearly, others semi-yearly, others quarterly, and still others on a rolling basis. Semi-yearly means there are two opportunities to apply per year; quarterly means there are four. A rolling basis means there is no fixed deadline and applications can be submitted at virtually any time.


In some cases, foundations use two-step deadlines: one for a pre-proposal (or a letter of inquiry or a concept paper) and a later one for a full proposal (if invited). Only if a pre-proposal is persuasive will a subsequent full proposal be invited.


Grant award notices may lag a month or longer after a board meeting where proposals are reviewed and grant awards are approved. After a proposal is rejected, an applicant may need to wait a year before it submits another; if its proposal is funded, it may need to wait two years.


Purposes and Activities


A specific foundation may have many purposes or few; it also may fund many types of activities or few. A corporate charitable giving program may favor opportunities for its personnel to volunteer in the community and to enhance public awareness of its brand by product donations; it will not fund the purchase of similar products made by other companies. Foundations may fund activities, but not paid labor (usually termed personnel).


These varied grantor-specific funding purposes and allowable activities constrain the options available to potential applicants. A poor match here is not a match worth pursuing.


Fields of Interest


A specific foundation or corporate charity may have many fields of interest or few. It may fund strictly within its proclaimed interests or it may also stray outside them from time to time. Directories list fields of interest only n general terms. By studying a funder’s recent grant making history, an applicant may verify what the declared interests may mean for its specific prospects.



Grant seekers use the grant maker profiles found in foundation directories to sort out strong leads from weak ones. This is the first of three posts on using foundation directories in prospect research. It covers: physical location, websites, limitations, types of grant makers, and 990-PF forms.


Directories Graphic 1


Physical Location


In general, the more distant a private foundation is from a grant seeker the less likely it is to award a grant. Its address on a map is merely a first small clue in the search for potential funders. A local grant maker often is somewhat more familiar with local needs (or problems) and local priorities. Its directors and benefactors often also have resolved to try to meet (or solve) them. Thus, there is good reason to look locally first, but that by itself is no reason not to look farther afield later.




The contents of a foundation website are often much more current and more extensive than those of even the best print or online directory. A grant seeker can search a funder’s website to verify or qualify the information it finds there. It is often possible to use a foundation’s website to confirm deadlines, retrieve application forms and instructions, review grant history, identify current directors and trustees, and do other tasks helpful in doing prospect research and preparing grant applications.




A limitation is a restriction on grant making. As a pre-condition, it shrinks the pool of applicants. A limitation may have to do with where, or what, or for what, or how many, or when, or how often, or how, or any other aspect of seeking a grant from a given funder. Often limitations pertain to geography, or purposes, or activities. If an applicant falls within – or sometimes, outside – the scope of one or more limitations it may need to look elsewhere for funding.


Types of Grant Makers


The type of grant maker (e.g., community foundation, family foundation, corporate charitable giving program) impacts the entire solicitation process and the likelihood of funding. In a corporate charity, for example, decision-making will follow different paths and obey different logics than in the foundations. A corporate charity may donate labor and products, not actual cash grants. A family foundation may make less predictable funding decisions than a corporate one. A non-family independent foundation may require a more rigorous evaluation plan than a family one. And a community foundation may gather and manage very distinct grant programs under its roof.


990-PF Forms


The 990-PF is a yearly financial statement that private foundations file with the United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The more recent the year of the form on file the more it should reflect the foundation’s present priorities and practices. Comparisons of several years of filings may disclose patterns and trends in grant making.


On each year’s filing, look for the ranges and amounts of grant awards. Look also at the types and locations of applicants winning them. How to analyze a 990-PF is an art in itself, one in which the Foundation Center offers some basic assistance.


Only private foundations must file the 990-PF. Grant-making public charities and community foundations file Form 990 in the same manner as other non-profit organizations. Corporate charitable giving programs do not file yearly reports with the IRS.


In examining a 990-PF filing, if grant seekers know what to look for and how to interpret what they see, they may improve the results of their prospect research.


This post covers useful aspects of 990-PF filings, such as contact information, application procedures, and grants awarded.


990 PF 2018


Reporting Period


On Page 1, near its top, are blanks for the period a Form 990-PF filing is to cover. By definition, a calendar year starts January 1 and ends December 31. Many foundations use it as their fiscal year. If a foundation’s fiscal year is not a calendar year, the blanks will state different start and end dates. The fiscal year governs the timing of a foundation’s grant-making activities and thus may affect the timing of an applicant’s proposals.


Contact Information


Page 1 asks for the foundation’s current name and address (Section G), and its telephone number (if it has one) (Section B). Potential applicants should crosscheck the specifics with the foundation’s website, if any, since the information may not be up to the moment.


Foundation Assets


On Page 1, Section I states the fair market value of the foundation’s assets as of year-end. This figure is one indicator of the foundation’s size. In general, each year, by rule, foundations must expend 5%or more of their assets in making qualified contributions, gifts, and grants. Consequently, at a bare minimum a foundation’s assets should be at least 20times greater in value than the applicant’s possible grant request.


Foundation Staff


In Part I, Lines 14-15, reports employee salaries, wages, and benefits. Sums significantly larger than zero imply that the foundation has at least part-time staff (one or more) to handle applicant queries.


Grants Awarded


In Part I, Line 25, Column D gives the total contributions, gifts, and grants the foundation paid during the year of filing. This amount reflects the foundation’s recent actual grant-making activity. It should be several multiples larger than the applicant’s possible grant request.


Foundation Management


In Part VIII, Section 1 names the officers, directors, trustees, and foundation managers, among others. The list represents who manages the foundation and who makes decisions about grant proposals. Researching their biographies may reveal possible connections between the applicant’s Board or staff and the foundation’s Board or staff; it may also disclose possible leads for initial contact and/or proposal selling points.


Charitable Activities


Part IX-A lists the foundation’s four largest direct charitable activities during the tax year. The list is one source of possible insights into the foundation’s priority beneficiaries and program areas. Review of the foundation’s website and publications, if any, may verify whether these priorities remain in effect after the reporting period ended.


Application Procedures


In Part XV, Section 2 summarizes the foundation’s application submission procedures: to whom to address the application (Line A), what type and content of application are required (Line B), submission deadlines (Line C), and restrictions and limitations (Line D). A checkbox, if left blank, will indicate that a foundation accepts unsolicited requests for funds. Again, applicants should crosscheck the particulars by reviewing a foundation’s website, if any.


Grant-Making History


In Part XV, Section 3 lists recipients – and amounts awarded – of grants and contributions made during the year or approved for future payments. The more that the details (e.g., type of recipient, location of recipient, amount awarded) match those describing the applicant and its contemplated grant proposal, the stronger the foundation should be as a lead for future funding.



Finding good leads for grant funding (or doing prospect research) can be one of the most difficult and time-consuming aspects of grant seeking. A very helpful step in this search – in the American context at least – is to look up a grant maker’s recent filings of Form 990-PF or Form 990. Such forms, and others like them, are the detailed yearly information returns grant makers submit to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).


This post discusses where grant seekers can find and view these returns. Alater post discusses how to extract useful information from a Form 990-PF. Its context is the United States of America.


Grant Maker Information Returns


Each year, private foundations must file a Form 990-PF with the IRS. The 990-PF is a public document that provides the filer’s address and contact information, identifies the filer’s executive officers, board of directors, and trustees, and presents financial data about the filer. It also describes the filer’s grant application procedures and deadlines and presents a complete list of grants awarded in the reporting period. Most such filings are available in Portable Document Format (PDF) and may be viewed using Adobe Reader, which is found on the Internet.


990 PF 2018


Only private foundations must file Form 990-PF. Community foundations and grant-making public charities must file Form 990. Direct corporate giving programs are not required to file any annual information returns with the IRS.


Foundation Center Finder Tools


The Foundation Center is an invaluable resource for researching grant makers’ filings of Forms 990 and 990-PF. They are accessible on its website via the 990 Finder, a free searchable database of 990-PFs and 990s filed by private foundations and charities. In addition, researchers may look up private grant makers in the United States using the Foundation Finder. This free tool provides basic information as well as access to 990-PFs and 990s.


Other Options


Researchers have other options than the Foundation Center. Registered users of GuideStar may use a free feature to examine or retrieve 990-PFs in its searchable database. They may also subscribe to more extensive and specialized premium services that provide access to information on Forms 990 and 990-PF. In addition, the Economic Research Institute has an extensive database of Form 990s, which is searchable for free and without pre-registration.


Beyond these large searchable databases, many individual grant makers now post their three most recent filings of Form 990s or Form 990-PFs on their websites.


In late 2018, many blogs offer insights about how to seek, find, get, and keep a grant award, how to write a grant proposal, and related topics. The blogs vary widely in longevity, source, style, scope, depth, and quality; each one is worth a visit, perhaps even a tour.


This second post samples some of the diverse blogs about grant seeking and grant proposal writing. Its topics are: logic models; planning tools; prospect research; success factors; sustainability; and technical reviews.


The first post samples the same blogs. Its topics are: assessments of need; career paths; choice of voice; collaboration and networks; development process; goals and objectives; and grant writing myths. The context for both posts is the United States of America. Comments are always welcome.


Logic Models


Logic models are versatile tools for program design and project management. A particularly inspiring and reassuring post on the Grants4Good Blog, by Margit Brazda Poirier, presents some of the roles of logic modelsin developing grant proposals. An elegant post about the power of logic models, by Barbara Floersh, appears on the Grantsmanship Center Blog. Another related post on the Grant Training Center Blog, by Mathilda Harris, also argues for the utility of logic modelsin project planning. GrantResultshas an eight-part series (2016) about using logic modelsin writing proposals and in implementing funded projects.


Planning Toolkits


Grant proposals require extensive planning and coordination. In a helpful post on the Grant Training Center Blog, Mathilda Harris examines the potential role of seven-component grant design chartsin planning a proposal and getting it funded. In the Foundation Center’s Grant Craft Blog, a thought-provoking post by Aimee Hendrigan describes the RACI matrixas a tool for fostering collaboration among grant recipients. GrantResultspresents a six-part series (2017) about Gantt charts, PESTLE analysis, SWOT analysis, Red teams, and several other tools for developing grant proposals.


Prospect Research


Knowing where to find grants is essential for grant seekers. Affiliated with the Foundation Center, famous for its comprehensive foundation directories, the GrantSpace Blogprovides a helpful overview about finding fundersin an applicant’s geographic area. GrantResultshas an eight-part series (2013, revised 2017) about state directories of grant makers, organized by geographic regions (e.g., New England, Midwest, Southwest).


Success Factors


Applicants may or may not get a grant for many reasons. The Grant Writing Basics Blog Seriesprovides a wealth of insights about winning and keeping federal grants, not the least of which is its post about verifying eligibility. On the Grant Training Center Blog, Mathilda Harris identifies 20 waysa proposal may fail to win a grant. Similarly, on the Let’s Talk Nonprofit Blog, Laura Rhodes offers tips about how some foundation grant makers make funding decisions. GrantResultsprovides a six-part series (2017) about some reasons why grant proposals may failto get funded (e.g., readiness, choice of opportunities, applicant attributes, proposal content).




The question of sustainability is pivotal for many grant makers. On the Grant Helpers Blog, in an instructive post, Michelle Hansen presents five key elementsof a sustainability plan. A penetrating post about the elements of sustainabilityalso appears on Barbara Floersch’s Grantsmanship Center Blog. GrantResultshas posted (2017) several tips for developing sustainability plansfor grant proposals, and has also posted (2013) seven strategiesfor developing sustainability plans.


Technical Reviews


Expert panel reviews make or break many grant proposals. On the Grant Writer Team Blog, a particularly informative and insightful post by Elaine Rose Penn explains what grant reviewers look forin proposals (e.g., partnerships and sustainability). The Grant Writing Basics Blog Seriesexplains peer review panelsand the application review process. On the Seliger+Associates Grant Writing Blog, Jake Seliger encourages grant seekers to write foremost to satisfy the needs and expectations of grant proposal reviewers, not other audiences. GrantResultspresents a two-part series (2012) about analyzing federal requests for proposals(RFPs) and becoming a reviewerof grant proposals.



In late 2018, many blogs offer insights about how to seek, find, get, and keep a grant award, how to write a grant proposal, and related topics. The blogs vary widely in longevity, source, style, scope, depth, and quality; each one is worth a visit, perhaps even a tour.


This first post samples some of the diverse blogs about grant seeking and grant proposal writing. Its illustrative topics are: assessments of need; career paths; choice of voice; collaboration and networks; development process; goals and objectives; and grant writing myths. The second post will sample the same blogs. Its topics will be: logic models; planning tools; prospect research; success factors; sustainability; and technical reviews. The context for both posts is the United States of America. Comments are always welcome.


Assessments of Need


Among grant seekers and grant makers alike, evidence of need is a springboard for action. On the Professional Grant Writer Blog, a post offers four ways to improve statements of needin grant proposals. The Grant Training Center Blogalso presents a post by Mathilda Harris about how to craft a compelling statementof need. GrantResultsoffers 16 tips for presenting an assessment of need(2012, revised 2017), as well as tips for addressing other common elements of grant proposal narratives.


Career Paths


Grant writing is a peculiar occupation. On the Grantsmanship Center Blog, Barbara Floersh explains how and why “grant writer” needs burialas a job title, since it is the grant maker that writes the check for a grant award, not the grant seeker; the position is more aptly called a “proposal writer”. In an engaging post on the Seliger+Associates Grant Writing Blog, Isaac Seliger explores work styles and writing habitsas occupational facets of developing grant proposals. GrantResultsdescribes what grant writers doand common career pathsas two posts in a five-part series (2017) about grant writing as a career.


Choice of Voice


As acts of writing, grant proposals must persuade as well as describe. On the Grant Writers’ Seminars and Workshops Blogare several useful reminders about the importance of voiceand word choice in persuading makers of scientific research grants. In an eloquent post on the Grant Training Center Blog, Mathilda Harris presents five aspects of writing stylethat improve the odds of winning a grant award. An incisive post by Holly Thompson about the power of consistencyin proposals, on the Grantsmanship Center Blog, is also apropos. GrantResultshas a post (2013) about choice of voice(formal/informal, technical/non-technical) in writing grant proposals.


Collaboration and Networks


Collaboration often helps position grant seekers to win grants; networking among grant seekers fosters collaboration. On the Grant Plant Blog, a compelling post describes the challenges and benefitsof collaboration among nonprofits. In a persuasive post on theGrant Helpers Blog, Roland Garton presents how inter-agency collaborationsmay stimulate partnerships and lead to more grant awards. Isaac Seliger, on theSeliger+Associates Grant Writing Blogoffers an entirely different take on the merits of collaborationin grant seeking. On a related topic, GrantResultshas a three-part series (2013, revised 2018) about creating and sustaining networks of grant seekers.


Development Process


Creating a grant proposal entails far more than writing. On the Grant Helpers Blog, Roland Garton explains how developing a proposal entails planning and researchas well as writing. An illuminating post in the Let’s Talk Nonprofit Blogdepicts writing grant proposals as having three legs(research, writing, and review). Similarly, GrantResultsoffers a post (2012) about the four dimensionsof developing grant proposals (research, communication, budget, and writing).


Goals and Objectives


In writing a program design for a grant proposal, a goal is the completed marathon, and objectives measure what it takes to complete it. On the Grant Professionals Association Blog, Lisa Sihvonen-Binder distinguishes between goals and objectivesand explains why they are not the same thing. GrantResultsdefines goals and objectives in a five-part dictionary of proposal developmentterms (2016, revised 2018). GrantResultsalso offers a seven-part dictionary of budget developmentterms (2016, revised 2018).


Grant Writing Myths


Myths about grant making and grant seeking abound. As an example, the Grant Geek Blogprovides a cautionary tale about several myths surrounding the ease of getting grantsfor businesses and individuals. A brief post on the Professional Grant Writer Blogdelineates five frequently encountered grant writing myths. In a discerning post on the Grant Training Center Blog, Mathilda Harris describes eight grant writing mythsthat confront grant seekers from the outset. GrantResultsprovides a (revised) 12-part series (2016) about the myth of omnipotenceand 11 other myths in the arena of grant funding.



This post offers an overview of the 400+ pages posted to this blog in the past six years. It may serve visitors as an aid in searching Grant Results for posts about diverse practical aspects of grant writing as a career, state and national resources for grant seekers, and sundry tools and tips for writing competitive grant proposals. With the few exceptions noted, its context is the United States of America.


Grant Writing as a Career

  • Common Career Paths
  • What Grant Writers Do
  • Essential Tools/Skills
  • Where Grant Writers Work
  • When Grant Writers Work


Grant Consulting: Rates and Fees

  • Hourly Rates and Flat Rates
  • Prospect Research Fees
  • Retainer Fees
  • Proposal Revision and Review Fees
  • Proposal Planning and Other Fees


Grant Writer Salaries

  • Median Annual Salaries
  • Median Salaries in All 50 US States
  • Median Salaries in 51 US Cities
  • Median Salaries in Australia
  • Median Salaries in Canada
  • Median Salaries in the United Kingdom
  • Median Salaries in Mexico
  • Median Salaries in the Caribbean Region


Professional Associations for Grant Writers


Grant Writers’ Networks

  • Purposes and Benefits
  • Questions for Start-Ups
  • Online Presence


Grant Writing Dictionaries:

  • Budget Development Dictionary A-Z
  • Proposal Development Dictionary A-Z


Finding Funding: Sources of Federal Grants


Finding State Education Grants

  • Southwest
  • Northwest
  • Great Plains
  • Midwest
  • Southeast
  • Mid-Atlantic
  • New England


State Grant Maker Directories

  • Southwest
  • Northwest
  • Great Plains
  • Midwest
  • Southeast
  • Mid-Atlantic
  • New England
  • Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands


Writing Competitive Grant Proposals

  • SMART Goals
  • PESTLE Analysis
  • SWOT Analysis
  • Red Team Reviews
  • RASCI Charts
  • Gantt Charts
  • Using Strategic Plans


Grant Writing Basics

  • Abstracts
  • Needs Assessments
  • Research-based Rationales
  • Project Objectives
  • Project Goals
  • Timelines
  • Personnel Plans
  • Management Plans
  • Dissemination Plans
  • Sustainability Plans
  • Evaluation Plans
  • Itemized Budgets
  • Budget Justifications
  • Proposal Attachments
  • Tables of Contents
  • Cover Letters


Common Proposal Application Forms

  • Proposal Elements
  • Contacting Funders
  • Roles of Evaluation
  • Lengths and Formats
  • Revenue Sources
  • Expense Categories


Why Proposals Don’t Win Grants

  • Choices of Opportunities
  • Applicant Attributes
  • Context and Competition
  • Grant Readiness
  • Proposal Content
  • Development and Delivery


Logic Models

  • Performance Indicators and Logic Models
  • Elements of a Logic Model
  • Defining a Logic Model
  • Basics of Logic Models
  • Types of Logic Models
  • Benefits of Logic Models
  • Alternative Logic Models
  • Use of Logic Models in Evaluation


Myths in Grant-Seeking

  • Myth of Instantaneity
  • Myth of Uniformity
  • Myth of Needless Complexity
  • Myth of Automaticity
  • Myth of Universal Eligibility
  • Myth of Substitutability
  • Myth of Omnipotence
  • Myth of Relationships


Proposal Boilerplate and Proposal Templates

  • Uses of Boilerplate in Grant Proposals
  • Hazards of Cloned Proposals
  • Using Proposal Templates


Funding Success Rates


Learning from Technical Review Forms


Return on Investment as a Metric for Grant Writers


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 mid-2018. Other posts later in 2018 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 mid-2018, has reported that the median annual salary for “Grants/Proposal Writers” in 51 cities was $67,439. The middle 20 cities selected for exploration here earned medians from $64,180 to $68,828; the bottom 10 selected cities earned medians of $64,030 or less; and the top 10 selected cities earned medians of $72,517 or more. These base salaries represented about 70% of total compensation; the other 30% of total compensation were fringe benefits and bonuses.


% Benchmark Median Salary 2018


Calculated on a full 52-week year, the same median annual salary worked out to $1,276.90 per week, and the range for the cities’ medians was $1,086.32 to $1,583.69 per week. Calculated over a 2,080-hour work-year, the same national median annual salary worked out to $32.42 per hour, and the range for the cities became from $27.16 per hour to $39.59 per hour. The highest median salary was 145.7% of the lowest median salary.


The middle 20 cities selected for exploration here earned medians from $64,180 to $68,828; the bottom 10 selected cities earned medians of $64,030 or less; and the top 10 selected cities earned medians of $72,517.


Median Salaries By Selected Cities


As of mid 2018, the “median annual salaries” in 51 selected cities searched on ranged from $56,489 in Pierre, SD to $82,352 in New York City, NY. In mid-2018, most of the medians for these cities fell in the range of $64,000 to $69,000.


Median Annual Salaries — 2018 Data Comparisons Data As % of 2018 Median for 51 Cities
USA $67,439 100.0%
New England States
Hartford CT $73,609 109.1%
Portland, ME $67,991 100.8%
Boston, MA $77,418 114.8%
Manchester, NH $71,871 106.6%
Providence, RI $72,075 106.9%
Burlington, VT $67,175 99.6%
Mid-Atlantic States
Dover, DE $72,517 107.5%
Washington, DC $75,702 112.3%
Baltimore, MD $69,965 103.7%
Newark, NJ $77,724 115.3%
New York, NY $82,352 122.1%
Philadelphia, PA $73,232 108.6%
Charleston, WV $61,995 91.9%
Midwestern States
Chicago, IL $72,498 107.5%
Indianapolis, IN $66,174 98.1%
Louisville, KY $64,180 95.2%
Detroit, MI $69,734 103.4%
Columbus, OH $67,141 99.6%
Great Plains States
Des Moines, IA $65,405 97.0%
Kansas City, KS $66,898 99.2%
Minneapolis, MN $72,483 107.5%
St. Louis, MO $67,011 99.4%
Lincoln, NE $63,915 94.8%
Bismarck, ND $63,438 94.1%
Pierre, SD $56,489 83.8%
Milwaukee, WI $67,474 100.1%
Northwestern States
Anchorage, AK $76,595 113.6%
Boise, ID $64,575 95.8%
Great Falls, MT $59,008 87.5%
Portland, OR $71,136 105.5%
Seattle, WA $74,685 110.7%
Casper, WY $63,404 94.0%
Southeastern States
Birmingham, AL $64,030 94.9%
Little Rock, AR $63,256 93.8%
Jacksonville, FL $65,306 96.8%
Atlanta, GA $67,031 99.4%
New Orleans, LA $67,565 100.2%
Jackson, MS $60,566 89.8%
Charlotte, NC $66,670 98.9%
Charleston, SC $64,237 95.3%
Nashville, TN $63,071 93.5%
Richmond, VA $68,230 101.2%
Southwestern States
Phoenix, AZ $67,439 100.0%
Los Angeles, CA $76,974 114.1%
Denver, CO $68,828 102.1%
Honolulu, HI $70,959 105.2%
Las Vegas, NV $70,782 105.0%
Albuquerque, NM $63,567 94.3%
Okla. City, OK $64,541 95.7%
Houston, TX $69,761 103.4%
Salt Lake City, UT $64,552 95.7%


It may be worth noting that median annual salaries in mid-2018 were no more uniform within most states than they were across the country. Out of the 51 selected cities presented in the table, 10 cities were within $1,000 (plus or minus) of the national median for the selected cities.



Throughout the 2010s, American grant writers have continued their efforts to distinguish, elevate, standardize, and formalize the training and professional status of their peers. Among the organizations at the forefront of such efforts are the Association of Fundraising Professionals, the American Grant Writers’ Association, and the Grant Professionals Association. This post is revised to reflect mid-2018. Reported information comes from the respective organizations’ websites.


Association of Fundraising Professionals

The 30,000-member Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) was founded in 1960. Regular individual professional membership is $250 per year, plus separate chapter dues of $25 to $120 per year. AFP offers several other types of membership as well. AFP holds three-day annual conferences; its 2019 conference will be in San Antonio, TX. Grant writers count among AFP members, but AFP is by no means only for grant writers. The website is


AFP offers a code of ethics and nine other research and practice tools, as well as 24 professional development benefits and opportunities, and an extensive bookstore. It offers discussion groups, a membership directory, a consultant directory, a career center, and other networking resources. AFP offers a three-day annual conference (plus a two-day preconference) and many members-only publications and other resources. It also offers continuous education-related services such as 26 webinars, an online knowledge center, and the Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) and the Advanced Certified Fundraising Executive (ACFRE) programs, which are its credentialing exams.


American Grant Writers’ Association

The 1,000-member American Grant Writers’ Association (AGWA) was founded in 2002. AGWA individual membership is $119 for one year, $200 for two years, or $275 for three years. Business memberships are available for $179 for one year, $340 for two years, or $475 for three years. AGWA holds two-day annual conferences; its 2019 conference will be in Austin, TX. The website is


AGWA advances professionalization through professional standards and a code of ethics and access to professional liability insurance (E&O). It offers 11 membership benefits. Among its networking resources are its two-day annual grant conference, a listing in a networking membership roster for certified grant writer consultants, and a members-only portal. In addition, AGWA offers continuous education-related services such as six online courses, a four-day grant researching and proposal writing workshop, a members-only newsletter, and the Certified Grant Writer® (CGW) Exam, which is its credentialing exam. It features employment-related services such as information about how to hire a grant writer and making members’ résumés available to prospective employers.


Grant Professionals Association

The 2,800-member Grant Professionals Association (GPA), formerly American Association of Grant Professionals (AAGP), was founded in 1998. GPA regular individual professional membership is $209/year, plus chapter dues of $10 to $25 per year; other types of membership are available. GPA holds four-day annual conferences; its 2018 conference will be in Chicago, IL. Its website is


GPA offers a Consultant Mentoring Program and publishes both an online newsletter and a peer-reviewed journal with limited public access to its contents. Its networking resources include a three-day annual conference, an extensive bookstore, and access to more than 70 webinars. The GPA advances professionalization through a Grant Professional Certification (GPC) program conducted through the Grant Professionals Certification Institute™ (GPCI). Its employment-related services include a Job Center with a searchable job postings database and a consultants listing for firms seeking to retain a grant-writing consultant.



The professionalization of grant writing reflects an effort to establish it as an enterprise distinct from fundraising. All three leading professional associations that encompass grant writing have their own conferences, exams, credentials, codes of ethics, and literature about effective practices.


Overview of Professional Associations for Grant Writers
Founded 1960 2002 1998
Membership Fee $250 $119 $209
Members 30,000 1,000 2,800
Conference 3-day 2-day 4-day


The costs of individual professional memberships vary by 150%. The scope and quality of resources available to members vary widely as well. The fee structures and the extent of resources appear to reflect the size and longevity of the three associations and the narrowness or breadth of their missions.



Discussion of the existence of the AFP, the AGWA, and the GPA is intended for informational purposes only. Endorsement or sanction of any of the associations is neither intended nor implied.


%d bloggers like this: