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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

 

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’.

 

 

 

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Certain project planning tools should be part of every competitive grant proposal writer’s repertoire. Among such tools are: SWOT analysis, PESTLE analysis, RASCI charts, Gantt charts, Red Team reviews, meta-analysis, and logic models. This post discusses SMART goals.

 

Definitions of SMART Goals

 

SMART goals have been around since 1981. SMART is a mnemonic acronym. Originally, its elements stood for specific, measurable, assignable, realistic, and time-related. In its original (1981) rendition, SMART meant:

 

S = Specific – targets a specific area for change

M = Measurable – is quantifiable or has indicators for change

A = Assignable – indicates who will do it

R = Realistic – can be accomplished given available resources

T = Time-related – indicates when the change will occur

 

More than 35 years later, research suggests that SMART usually stands for: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. Along the way since 1981, variations for each element of the acronym have proliferated:

 

  1. Variations on S include: simple, sensible, significant, stretching, or strategic.
  2. Variations on M include: meaningful or motivating
  3. Variations on A include: assignable, agreed, attainable, actionable, action-oriented, ambitious, active, aligned, or accountable.
  4. Variations on R include: reasonable, realistic, results-based, results-focused, reachable, rewarding, or research-based.
  5. Variations on T include: time-related, time-based, time-limited, time-sensitive, timely, trackable, time-framed, timed, timetable, tangible, or testable.

 

TRAMS Goals as an Alternative to SMART Goals

 

For some proposal writers, SMART may prove problematic as a planning tool. It need not be. Proposal writers can avoid many potential problems if they adopt the original elements of the SMART acronym. They can avoid more potential problems if they reverse its sequence and look at the elements as TRAMS rather than as SMART.

 

A well-constructed project objective states a specific and quantifiable performance criterion. It states when a result will happen. It states who will accomplish the result. Such an objective selects a result that is likely to happen, but not necessarily certain to happen, within a given time period. It states in what domain of activity the result will occur. And it alludes to how the project will measure the result.

 

In thus reframing the original acronym, proposal writers may use TRAMS as a checklist for evaluating the quality of the articulation of an objective, as a litmus test for ascertaining its quality, and as a process for enhancing and ensuring its quality.

 

As a checklist for reviewing and refining statements of project objectives:

 

T = objective states when, either as a single deadline or as a recurring event

R = objective states a performance criterion that is attainable yet challenging or ambitious

A = objective states who, either as an organization, or a position title, or a population

M = objective states a performance criterion or an indicator of success and a measurement instrument

S = objective states clearly and precisely who, what, when, to what extent, using what indicator

 

Among the uses of TRAMS in writing a grant proposal are:

  1. Program Designs – formulating the objectives of a project
  2. Evaluation Plans – identifying instruments to be used to demonstrate progress in attaining the objectives of a project
  3. Personnel Plans – planning performance monitoring of staff involved in a project

 

Among the advantages of using TRAMS as a quality check in writing a grant proposal are:

  1. Goal Displacement – preserves the distinction between a goal and an objective
  2. Objective Displacement – preserves objective as part of the vocabulary of project development and as a distinct element in program design
  3. Deference to RFP Language – adopts the specific terminology used in most proposal solicitations and subordinates local usages to the funders’ usages

 

Subsequent posts will discuss other project development tools such as Gantt charts, RASCI charts, SWOT analysis, PESTLE analysis, Red Team reviews, meta-analysis, and logic models.

 

Certain project planning tools should be part of every competitive grant proposal writer’s repertoire. Among such tools are: SWOT analysis, PESTLE analysis, RASCI charts, Gantt charts, Red Team reviews, meta-analysis, and logic models. This post discusses PESTLE analysis.

 

Definition of PESTLE Analysis

 

PESTLE analysis examines external factors that form the context of a project or initiative. PESTLE is a mnemonic acronym with several variants. In PESTLE, P = political, E = economic, S = social, T = technological, L = legal, and E = environmental.

 

P = Political factors, such as support for public expenditures (tax rates, bond elections), tax policies, fiscal policies, and public investment policies.

E = Economic factors, such as employment rates, labor costs, inflation rates, interest rates, income levels, insurance rates, cost of living, credit costs, availability of expertise, and bond ratings.

S = Social factors, such as cultural trends, demographics, public safety, public health, confidence in public institutions, social mobility, mobility rates, attitudes and perceptions, cross-cultural communication, and educational attainment levels.

T = Technological factors, particularly innovations, automation, networks, Internet, efficiency, existing infrastructure, diffusion rates, displacement rates, adoption rates, training needs, skill sets, and attitudes/dispositions.

L = Legal factors, such as new and existing legislation, new and existing regulations, court decisions in case law, compliance, public engagement, accounting standards, and procurement.

E = Environmental factors, particularly natural phenomena, land use, scarcities or shortages of natural resources, recycling, energy access/costs, physical infrastructure, and physical maintenance.

 

PESTLE analysis is a tool for the analysis of external factors, which form part of the context within which a project will be launched and will function. Any and all of the external factors may advance or impede the project. As external factors, they are outside an organization’s control, but they impact the organization and its projects.

 

A PESTLE analysis may provide a more comprehensive view than SWOT analysis or it may be folded into the O and T of a SWOT analysis. It is a tool of strategic analysis rather than of strategic definition. It should be only one element in a comprehensive process of strategic analysis. Organizations must conduct the process regularly and repeatedly for it to be effective.

 

Among the steps involved in a PESTLE analysis are:

  1. Brainstorm the PESTLE factors
  2. Identify the salient factors in each domain
  3. Rate the importance of each factor
  4. Assess likelihood for each factor
  5. Consider implications for each factor

 

The desired end result of a PESTLE analysis is to identify salient issues about which an organization may take action in a project.

 

Among the uses of PESTLE analysis in writing a grant proposal are:

  1. Background – describing the larger context in which a project will operate
  2. Needs Assessment – summarizing of findings of the analysis as a baseline of needs
  3. Program Design – formulating one or more project objectives
  4. Program Design – selecting strategies and focuses of effort in an action plan
  5. Evaluation Plan – using focus groups to monitor/review status of factors in the PESTLE analysis
  6. Evaluation Plan – performing a content analysis of the PESTLE findings

 

Precautions in Doing a PESTLE Analysis

 

Among some of the precautions to take in doing a PESTLE analysis are:

  1. Using consistent methods and asking consistent questions
  2. Providing consistent facilitation
  3. Ensuring inclusive participant types and expertise types
  4. Providing a neutral ground venue or multiple venue types
  5. Ensuring the accurate capture of insights
  6. Obtaining consistent and repeated participation of stakeholders
  7. Planning actions that reflect findings of the PESTLE analysis

 

Subsequent posts will discuss other project development tools such as Gantt charts, RASCI charts, SWOT analysis, Red Team reviews, meta-analysis, and logic models.

 

Certain project planning tools should be part of every competitive grant proposal writer’s repertoire. Among such tools are: SWOT analysis, PESTLE analysis, RASCI charts, Gantt charts, Red Team reviews, meta-analysis, and logic models. This post discusses SWOT analysis.

 

Definition of SWOT Analysis

 

SWOT stands for Strength (S), Weakness (W), Opportunity (O), and Threat. SWOT analysis looks at identified factors in the present context or milieu of a project and interprets them either as S, W, O, or T.

 

S and W are of internal origin. Strengths are internal factors favorable to attaining an organization’s objective. Among possible strengths are: organizational culture, expertise, unique qualities, and resources. Weaknesses are internal factors unfavorable to attaining an organization’s objective. Among possible weaknesses also are: organizational culture, expertise, unique qualities, and resources.

 

By contrast, O and T are of external origin. Opportunities are external factors favorable to attaining an organization’s objective. Among possible opportunities are: an organization’s market sector/segment, third parties, and all of the PESTLE factors. Threats are external factors unfavorable to attaining an organization’s objective. Among possible threats are: the organization’s market sector/segment, third parties, and all of the PESTLE factors.

 

In general, S and O are helpful. Similarly, in general, W and T are harmful. Organizations control S and W to a degree. By contrast, they exert no control over O and T. What participants in a SWOT analysis may regard as an S in one context they may also regard as a W in another context – e.g., staff retention incentives – and what participants may regard as an O in one context they may also regard as a T in another context – e.g., community activism.

 

Steps in Doing a SWOT Analysis

 

SWOT analysis is a tool for strategic definition, for reaching a consensus about the internal and external contexts of a project. It is an iterative process, not a one-time analysis. It also entails subjective decisions throughout its process.

 

The SWOT process starts from an already defined objective. Next it defines the factors involved. Next it yields an analysis. The analysis may reset the objective requiring reframing of the objective and triggering the iteration of another cycle of analysis. The defined objective and the SWOT analysis act on each other. They are interdependent, and thus dynamic, not static.

 

It is often useful for participants to start with analysis of S and W then move on to analysis of O and T. Results of SWOT can be plotted on a performance matrix. Those W factors that are keys to organizational success, but also show a low performance level are the factors that subsequent strategy should target. The O and T factors can be rated on a scale ranking their probability and their impact on the organization.

 

Among the uses of SWOT analysis in writing grant proposals are:

  1. Needs Assessment – summarizing of findings of the analysis as a baseline of needs
  2. Program Design – formulating one or more project objectives
  3. Program Design – selecting strategies and focuses of effort in an action plan
  4. Evaluation – using focus groups to monitor/review status of factors in the SWOT analysis
  5. Evaluation – performing a content analysis of the SWOT findings

 

Precautions in Doing a SWOT Analysis

 

Among some of the precautions to take in doing a SWOT analysis are:

  1. Using consistent methods and asking consistent questions
  2. Providing consistent facilitation
  3. Ensuring inclusive participant types
  4. Providing a neutral ground venue or multiple venue types
  5. Ensuring the accurate capture of insights
  6. Obtaining consistent participation of stakeholders
  7. Building a consensus about findings for the elements of SWOT
  8. Ensuring appropriate skill in facilitation and in building consensus
  9. Reducing risks of oversimplification and dominance of vested interests (e.g., denial of W out of deference to power)
  10. Planning actions that impact S and W
  11. Ensuring that it is repeated over time

 

Subsequent posts will discuss other project development tools such as Gantt charts, RASCI charts, PESTLE analysis, Red Team reviews, meta-analysis, and logic models.

Certain project planning tools should be part of every competitive grant proposal writer’s repertoire. Among such tools are: Red Team reviews, SWOT analysis, PESTLE analysis, RASCI charts, Gantt charts, meta-analysis, and logic models. This post discusses Red Team reviews.

 

Definition of Red Team Reviews

 

Red Teams review a proposal before it is submitted, at the time when it is almost entirely developed. Every reviewer on the Red Team ideally adopts the critical/skeptical external viewpoint of the funders’ subsequent reviewers, not merely the internal viewpoint of an organization’s proposal writers and/or its executive leadership. The Red Team rates and comments upon pre-submittal proposals in terms of five attributes: coherence, completeness, consistency, compliance, and correctness.

 

  • Coherence includes aspects such as: clarity of writing, avoidance of technical jargon, and selection of verb tenses and voice
  • Completeness includes aspects such as: responsiveness to all review criteria, and appropriateness of responses to funder’s program priorities
  • Consistency includes aspects such as: uniformity of format, uniformity of terminology, and uniformity of writing style
  • Compliance includes aspects such as: conformity to proposal solicitation, conformity to laws and regulations, and conformity to the sequence of review criteria
  • Correctness includes aspects such as: absence of grammatical errors, absence of quantitative errors, and first-use elaboration of acronyms

 

Steps in a Red Team Review Process

 

Select a review team whose participants will have differing backgrounds and roles in the organization and will bring differing perspectives to the review. On the team, take steps to ensure representation of appropriate technical subject matter expertise (e.g., evaluation, budget, program design, human resources) and internal organizational leadership.

 

Orient the team. Provide all parts of the proposal with its attachments, which are needed to complete the review. Commit at least 2-4 hours to the review process. Adopt the program’s selection criteria rating scale and point allocations as the team’s criteria. Assign ID codes to each reviewer in case post-review questions arise. Collect, compile, and review the team’s ratings and comments. If possible, reconvene the Red Team reviewers for a debriefing.

 

The end products of a Red Team review should include the rating and scoring of a draft proposal against program selection criteria as well as the reviewers’ comments/rationales for their ratings and their ultimate recommendations for funding.

 

If time before a proposal deadline permits, subsequent internal, pre-submittal proposal reviews may focus on the budget (green team), the quality of the finished proposal, (gold team), and a final compliance check (white team).

 

Advantages and Limitations of Red Team Reviews

 

Among the advantages of a Red Team review in writing a grant proposal are:

  1. Finding flaws and strengths in narratives and budgets
  2. Suggesting deletions, explanations, elaborations, and/or additions to a proposal
  3. Finding inadequate references to relevant research literature and/or its findings
  4. Finding calculation errors in narratives and budgets
  5. Identifying missing budget items
  6. Identifying phantom budget items or superfluous or unjustified budget items

 

Among the limitations of a Red Team review in writing a grant proposal are:

  1. Insufficient time may be allocated to doing a thorough review
  2. Key reviewers may be unavailable when they are needed
  3. Key reviewers may not regard the review as a high-priority use of their time
  4. Key reviewers may not commit enough time to the review

 

Subsequent posts will discuss other project development tools such as Gantt charts, RASCI charts, SWOT analysis, PESTLE analysis, meta-analysis, and logic models.

Certain project planning tools should be part of every competitive grant proposal writer’s repertoire. Among such tools are: RASCI charts, Gantt charts, SWOT analysis, PESTLE analysis, Red Team reviews, meta-analysis, and logic models. This post discusses RASCI charts.

 

Definition of RASCI Charts

 

A RASCI chart is a form of responsibility matrix. It clarifies roles and responsibilities for tasks and deliverables within a project team. It specifies who will do what. A RASCI chart encompasses all of the primary types of stakeholders in a project. It aids in mapping project implementation plans, personnel plans, and evaluation plans. It also aids in doing a task analysis for a Gantt chart and in developing project-specific position descriptions.

 

R = Responsible. R is the one person who will be ultimately responsible for success in completing a task and in delivering its work products. R may be the person who actually will do the work (or produce the deliverable) or who will direct others to do the work. Example: Strategic Communication Specialist.

 

A = Accountable. A is the one person who will have ultimate accountability and authority for the task. A is also the person to whom R will report or will be otherwise accountable, and A is the person who will approve the adequacy of the work product (deliverable). Example: Project Director.

 

S = Supportive. S is the person or team of persons who will be needed to do the actual work of completing specific tasks (or creating specific deliverables). S often includes persons who can provide logistical, coordinative, or administrative services. Example: Professional Development Coordinator.

 

C = Consulted. C is anyone whose input will add value and/or whose buy-in will be essential for the ultimate implementation of the tasks. C commonly includes persons who can offer technical expertise to a task. Example: Community-Based Organizations.

 

I = Informed. I is the person or groups of persons who will need to be notified of results or actions taken but who will not need to be involved in daily decision-making processes. I will include persons or groups that will need to be “kept in the loop” and/or apprised of the status and progress of a project. Example: Board of Directors.

 

Steps in Creating a RASCI Chart

 

A RASCI chart requires the prior completion of at least a preliminary task analysis for a project. After completing a task analysis, create a table. List the Tasks down the Y-axis. List the Positions or Persons along the X-axis. Enter the roles in the cells. Color-code each type of role (if desired). The relative numbers of stakeholders by code should be: I > C > S > R > A. Every task must have an A and an R. Not every task needs an S.

 

Sample RASCI Chart

 

  Person 1 Person 2 Person 3 Person 4… Person N
Activity/Task 1 R I A C S
Activity/Task 2 I R A S C
Activity/Task 3 R C A I S
Activity/Task 4 S A C R I

 

Among the uses of a RASCI chart in writing a grant proposal are:

  1. Program Design – describing action steps that R, A, S, C, and/or I will perform
  2. Personnel Plan – identifying types of personnel required to implement a project
  3. Evaluation Plan – identifying types of personnel needed for interim and final evaluation of a project
  4. Budget – allocating funds for key personnel identified through creating a RASCI chart

 

Among the limitations of using a RASCI chart in writing a grant proposal are:

  1. Possible proliferation of A when only one person should be A
  2. Interpretations that R are not A to any degree at all
  3. Possible proliferation of C where too many C may slow progress of project

 

Subsequent posts will discuss other project development tools such as Gantt charts, SWOT analysis, PESTLE analysis, Red Team reviews, meta-analysis, and logic models.

 

See also: https://grantresults.wordpress.com/tag/rasci-charts

Certain project planning tools should be part of every competitive grant proposal writer’s repertoire. Among such tools are: Gantt charts, RASCI charts, SWOT analysis, PESTLE analysis, Red Team reviews, meta-analysis, and logic models. This post discusses Gantt charts.

Definition of Gantt Charts

A Gantt chart is a linear and sequential timeline that allows planners to visualize all of the tasks and resources entailed in a project. It is a specialized form of bar graph.

A Gantt chart:

  • Sorts tasks into related groups and sequences
  • Distills complex projects into their simpler components
  • Makes start/end timeframes explicit
  • Renders explicit many of the assumptions underlying a project
  • Clarifies relationships among the elements of a project

 

A Gantt chart requires the prior completion of at least a preliminary task analysis of the steps, sequences, and durations involved in a project. Task lists form its vertical Y-axis. Units of time form its horizontal X-axis. A Gantt chart presents the necessary, sequenced, and grouped tasks that are forecast to occur across one time scale (e.g., months) or another (e.g., weeks or days). Simpler Gantt charts use months as time units. They may span one year or several years. More complex Gantt charts use weeks or even days as time units. They tend to span less total time and to render far more detail than the simpler ones.

Alternatives to Bar Graph Timelines

Often described as a specialized type of bar chart, proposal planners do not need to create a Gantt chart using only bars. They can just as well populate a series of cells in a table with simple symbols such as X. For the purposes of preparing grant proposals, it often suffices to present months as critical units of time rather than to present a more granular and complex analysis that may be necessary to guide implementation after a proposal is funded.

 

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Task A1 X
Task A2 X X
Task A3 X X X X X X X X X
Task B1 X X
Task B2 X X X X
Task B3 X X X X
Task B4 X X

 

Among the uses of a Gantt chart in writing a grant proposal are:

  1. Program Designs – clarifying and refining timelines for the attainment of objectives
  2. Management Plans – presenting implementation timelines, but also presenting milestones
  3. Evaluation Plans – presenting evaluation timelines, but also presenting milestones that are restricted to project evaluation

 

Advantages and Limitations of Gantt Charts

Among the advantages of using a Gantt chart in writing a grant proposal are:

  1. It aids in allocating resources more effectively
  2. It enables setting of more accurate deadlines for deliverables
  3. It clarifies project progress/status for both implementers and managers
  4. It supports progress monitoring and facilitates creation of interim and final reports
  5. It makes explicit the time dependencies between and among tasks
  6. It provides an overview of projects from start to finish

 

Finally, among the limitations of using a Gantt chart in writing a grant proposal are:

  1. Creation of charts too large or detailed to fit in a standard page format
  2. Creation of charts too large or detailed to comply with proposal requirements
  3. Use of overly complicated timelines that impede viewers’ comprehension

 

Subsequent posts will discuss other project development tools such as RASCI charts, SWOT analysis, PESTLE analysis, Red Team reviews, meta-analysis, and logic models.

This new post explores grant consultants’ fees in 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 2017 will 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 all posts in this series will be the United States of America.

Fixed Fee Assignments

In early 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. The most frequently encountered rates for ancillary services are those for fixed fee assignments for private sector prospect research and/or private sector proposal development. The costs range from $375 to $7,500 – for finding one to five private sector grant leads and/or for writing one to five proposals – to from $7,000 to $19,200 – for finding 10 grant leads and/or for writing 10 proposals. Some consultants offer to find as many as 40 grant leads for $20,000 (equivalent to $500 per lead); grant proposals to submit to those leads cost more.

 

  Minimum Funders Maximum Funders
Consultant/Firm 1 $375 3 leads Unstated Unstated
Consultant/Firm 2 $500 5 leads Unstated Unstated
Consultant/Firm 3 $800 3 leads Unstated Unstated
Consultant/Firm 4 $1,000 15 leads Unstated Unstated
Consultant/Firm 5 $1,200 3 leads Unstated Unstated
Consultant/Firm 2 $7,500 3 leads Unstated Unstated
Consultant/Firm 6 $795 1 lead $20,000 40 leads
Consultant/Firm 7 $4,000 5 leads $19,200 10 leads
Consultant/Firm 8 $5,500 3 leads $7,000 10 leads
Consultant/Firm 9 $8,000 5 leads $9,000 10 leads

 

Some consultants offer to help grant seekers with program design or with (often more extensive) program development. Sampled fees run from $200 to $6,000 or more.

  

  Minimum Maximum Services
Consultant/Firm 1 $200 $500 Program development with logic model
Consultant/Firm 2 $2,500 $6,000 Program development
Consultant/Firm 3 $500 Unstated Program design
Consultant/Firm 4 $1,000 Unstated Program design
Consultant/Firm 5 $2,500 Unstated Strategic guidance
Consultant/Firm 6 $100/hr Unstated Program development from concept to proposal

 

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 now commonly charge for them by the day (e.g., $1,500/day) plus itemized expenses. The most frequently cited expenses to be billed are those of travel, lodging, and office support (e.g., printing, copying, mailing, or shipping).

 

  Daily Rates Travel and Expense Surcharge
Consultant/Firm 1 $1,500.day Yes
Consultant/Firm 2 $1,500/day Yes
Consultant/Firm 3 $5,000/day Yes

 

This new post explores grant consultants’ proposal revision and review fees in early 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 2017 will explore hourly rates and flat rates for technical assistance 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.

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 vary 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 2017, flat rates for review and revision – as stated on 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 (10 hours at $250 per hour) for each proposal they critique – the same rate as found in 2016.

In 2017, consultants’ declared hourly rates for reviews and revisions of grant proposals are from $35 to $250. 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 $200 $500
Consultant/Firm 3 $350 $750
Consultant/Firm 4 $500 $1,500
Consultant/Firm 5 $500 $1,500
Consultant/Firm 6 $750 $1,200
Consultant/Firm 7 $3,000 $5,000
Consultant/Firm 8 $3,000 $6,000
Consultant/Firm 9 $1,000 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 10 $1,200 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 11 $1,500 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 12 $2,500 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 13 $35/hour Unstated
Consultant/Firm 14 $45/hour Unstated
Consultant/Firm 15 $65/hour Unstated
Consultant/Firm 16 $75/hour Unstated
Consultant/Firm 17 $85/hour Unstated
Consultant/Firm 18 $100/hour Unstated
Consultant/Firm 19 $120/hour Unstated
Consultant/Firm 20 $250/hour Unstated

 

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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