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How do Grant Writers Get Paid? (It’s not how you think.)

Since it’s April and the ol’ saying goes, “April showers bring May flowers,” let’s talk about making it rain for your grant writing business by dispelling a common myth and sharing tips for rate setting. How grant writers get paid is not how you might think. Let’s talk about that and then make it rain for your grant writing business and for your nonprofit clients as well.

How do Grant Writers Get Paid?

There is a myth going around that grant writers don’t get paid upfront for their work or that they are paid a percentage of the grants that are approved. I am here to tell you that is a myth that needs to be dispelled.

The truth is our two professional associations, the Association of Fundraising Professionals and the Grant Professionals Organization ban writers from taking a percentage of the grant or working on commission. Instead, grant writers get paid hourly or salary depending on the needs, size, and budget of the organization.

You would want to get paid, and so does your grant writer.

Let’s say a grant writer was paid based on a percentage of the grant. They may write grant proposals but if it isn’t funded, then the grant writer wouldn’t get paid for the work they completed for your nonprofit.

Not only that but paying a grant writer from a funded grant is frowned upon, and even considered unethical. That is because the grant is considered fundraising and is to be used for a specific purpose outlined in the grant, and I guarantee 100% of the time, the payment to a grant writer is not part of it.

Grant writers get paid as they write proposals because they are skilled, trained, and experienced at what they do. Even a newer grant writer understands what is needed to complete a grant application and should be compensated. They’ve taken the time to develop a story about the nonprofit and should be paid for doing such.

In my Grant Station article How to Handle Grant Rejection Letters, I share that even the most well-constructed grant applications are rejected on the first attempt. Grantmakers may simply not have enough funding for your grant request. Review the request and make sure your organization is aligned and apply again in the next grant cycle.

How do you set rates as a grant writer?

The most common way for grant writers to get paid is hourly.

The exact rate is dependent on experience and geography, as it is in the for-profit world. It is not uncommon for writers to be paid $20-25 per hour to start and then increase as they gain more knowledge and experience, and higher in large metropolitan areas versus rural. There are writers and organizations that pay on a per-project basis as well, making it important to ask and negotiate prior to work being completed.

However, your nonprofit pays its grant writers, it is most certainly not based on approved grants or commission. They’re paid hourly or per project for their skills, experience, and expertise. Pay them for their knowledge and the story they’ve created.

Are you ready to grow your grant writing business? The Rayvan Group is ready to teach you how to grow your grant writing business! Contact us today to learn more about this and all our nonprofit consulting services. Let’s make it rain!


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