Dear Experienced Grant Writer:
I have been a self-employed grant writer for over 10 years. When I started, it was no longer best practices to charge a percentage of any grant award received. I have charged a flat rate all these years. With a recent new client, they are saying that I am crazy to charge a flat rate instead of a percentage of grant awards. Can you tell me what is the best practice these days? I want to be fair to myself and the organizations I work for, but I also don’t want to undercharge for my work.
Dear Seasoned Grant Writer,
You are correct that it remains best practice not to charge a percentage of an award for your services. In fact, in most cases, it is both unethical and illegal to take a commission or percentage of the grant total for your work as a grant writer. The services you are providing are not part of the project/program you are requesting funding for and are therefore not part of the outcomes the funder is expecting to invest in. Also, keep in mind, whether a proposal is awarded or denied can depend on many other factors aside from the writing of the proposal itself (e.g., competition is high, grant funding is limited, there is a lack of relationship with the funder, etc.). The organization/client should be adequately compensating you for both your work and a finished product that can often be used for more than just a singular proposal, regardless of whether or not the proposal was funded. For more information about compensation as it relates to GPA Ethics, see the GPA Ethics FAQs.
Beth Archer, Grant Professional