Fees for freelance
grantwriters or consultants present a constant problem. At least once a week
someone asks, Can I hire a grantwriter (or agree to work for an organization)
for a percentage of the grants awarded? The answer is simply, No. Commissions
are considered unethical by almost all professional organizations and funders; and they are neither ideal for organizations nor grantwriters.
The Northwest Development
Officers Association says in its Statement of
Ethics:Members shall…receive compensation based on usual and customary
compensation practices in the development field. Accept no compensation based
on a percentage of fundraising goals.
Grantmakers frown upon
contingency fees, and many will not fund your organization if they find out you
pay consultants on this basis.
Funders seldom allow a
grantwriter’s fee to be included in the program budget, and hiding the fee in
another line would be dishonest.
how is that fair? an organization may ask; Why should we pay the
grantwriter if we didn’t get the grant?
Proposals succeed or fail for a
number of reasons, most of which are out of the grantwriter’s control. Among these are:
whether the organization has a well-planned and balanced budget
the strength of the project: whether it meets a clear community need * Match: how well the project fits the funder’s interests and geographic criteria
Organizational Capacity: reputation, track record, financial history, etc. * Relationship:
how well the funder knows and trusts the organization
Collaboration: how well the organization partners with other organizations
how many other requests the funder has received and from whom
and Timing: how much money the funder has available in this cycle
Finally, a key element is the
quality and persuasiveness of the proposal. This is the responsibility of the grantwriter and important. However, even the most eloquently written proposal
will fail if other factors are not in its favor.
We’re a small
organization, just starting out. How are we supposed to pay a grantwriter if we
don’t have any money?
If you don’t have any money, you are quite simply not ready to apply for a grant. Grants should never be an organization’s first dollar. You need to raise funds
from individuals first: people who believe in your organization and are willing
to make a contribution to get you started. A good place to begin is with your Board