Things to Know Before Hiring a Grant Writer for Your Nonprofit

Things to Know Before Hiring a Grant Writer for Your Nonprofit

hire a grant writer

One of the benefits of being a nonprofit is the surplus amount of grants available. Many organizations have a problem finding them and having enough time to fill out the applications. Depending on the grant type, these applications can run from one or two pages to over sixty. If your nonprofit has no or little staff, finding time to apply for a grant can be close to impossible.

Plus, writing a grant application requires years of experience, understanding of the process, and skills. It’s not something you can have done by any staff or writer. The best idea for these organizations is to hire a grant writer. Quality grant writers can give nonprofits a leg up on the competition.

This article breaks down what to look for and the steps to take when hiring a grant writer.

  1. 3 Unmissable Benefits of Hiring a Grant Writer for Your Nonprofit
  2. What to Look for in a Grant Writer
  3. How Much Can it Cost You to Hire a Grant Writer?
  4. Where to Find the Best Nonprofit Grant Writers
  5. 6 Steps to Hiring The Right Grant Writer for Your Nonprofit

3 Unmissable Benefits of Hiring a Grant Writer for Your Nonprofit

benefits of hiring a grant writer

Flawless writing of your grant applications isn’t the only reason why you need grant writers in your nonprofit organization. There are more. Let’s have a look at them here.


1. They have a better understanding of grant writing rules

Every grant will have its set of rules that you, as a nonprofit, need to adhere to. These rules are usually listed on the website. It might be a lot for you or your staff to make sense of all these rules and apply them to your grant application. The result – rejection of your application! But when you hire a professional, they are trained and skilled to understand and apply these writing rules. A good grant writer will save you the time and effort of adhering to strict grant writing rules.


2. They will find out the best opportunities for your nonprofit

Most grant writers are excellent researchers too. They have the knowledge and the research skills that one needs to understand which grant opportunities are the best for a particular nonprofit. You can trust them to have a hard look at all the facts and let you know if you should invest time and effort in a grant or not.


3. They will increase your chances of winning the grant

Writing and applying for grants can be quite a task for you and your inexperienced staff members. That often results in inadequate and incomplete grant applications. Plus, you must admit you cannot write as flawlessly and convincingly as a professional grant writer would. Hence, it is advisable that you increase your chances of winning the grant by hiring an adept grant writer.


What to Look for in a Grant Writer

hiring grant writers

Many nonprofits search for grant writers with high success rates. That may seem like the best choice, but the success factor is often based more on the relationship between the organization and the funder. So here are a few things nonprofits should look for in a grant writer.


1. Skills

The grant writer you need must have writing, research, and people skills. They should be able to research the right grant opportunities for your nonprofit, work with people inside the organization to gather data to support the application, and write flawlessly to ensure you win. It is imperative that they understand grant writing rules and apply them effectively while preparing the grant application.


2. Experience

Writing for a grant is different than other forms of writing. Grants cannot have any grammatical errors, they should communicate clearly, and persuade the audience. Many grant applications will require the grant to follow a specific format, so a grant writer must also follow directions.

Pro tip: Look for an experienced writer in your field. If your nonprofit is in healthcare or an environmental field, you may want to find a grant writer with experience making complex terms easy to understand.


3. Examples and references

One of the best ways to learn about a writer’s experience is by asking for examples and references. Grant writers should have a portfolio that includes different types of grants they have written and their success rates. If a grant writer does not include references in their portfolio, you should ask for them before hiring the writer. Their examples and references can provide you with answers to the following questions:

  • The quality and success of their written grants
  • How clearly do they communicate?
  • The diversity of their experience in writing grants

4. Certification

Although certification is not necessary, it may give you peace of mind that the writer has been trained in all areas of grant writing. There are several different certification options, but the best known is the Certified Grant Writer with the American Grant Writers’ Association. This website provides training and certification options for writers and is a source for nonprofits with lists of grant writers in your area.


5. Reasonable pay rate

Nonprofits can hire grant writers as full or part-time staff members or look for freelance professionals with experience writing grants. Freelance grant writers may be the best option for most smaller nonprofits because you can find experienced grant writers at affordable prices.

It may be tempting to find the cheapest writer possible, but remember, you get what you pay for.


6. Ability to write different grant types

Before hiring a grant writer, you may want to research the different types of grants available. If your nonprofit wants to apply for more government or NEA grants, hiring a writer with experience writing this type of grant is essential.


How Much Can it Cost You to Hire a Grant Writer?

hiring grant writers

It depends. You can hire a grant writer on an hourly basis or you can pay them a flat rate per grant. Some nonprofits even pay their grant writer a retaining fee for a specific amount of time. The cost varies accordingly. Depending on experience, certificates acquired, and skillset, grant writers charge about $35 per hour to $125 per hour. The retaining fee, however, can range from $2500/month to $10,000/month.

Pro tip: It is advisable that you do not hire commission-only grant writers. They usually charge a certain percentage of your grant amount if/when you win it. It is not ethical and you place your organization at the risk of losing the grant amount altogether. There can be other legal consequences as well.


Where to Find The Best Nonprofit Grant Writers

hiring grant writers

There are a few websites that help you find the best nonprofit grant writers in and around the globe. They bring you the best possible talent by listing their skill sets, certifications, and experience, their ratings, and pay/hour. Such lists are helpful when you have a budget in place and you know exactly how experienced a writer you need for your organization.

These websites are extremely helpful for finding the best nonprofit grant writers –

  • Grant Writer TeamThis website matches grant seekers with professional and successful grant writers. You won’t have a list of available writers right away but you will be asked to fill out a form that will be forwarded to all their writers. They also have other grant-related services listed on their website.
  • Upwork – Upwork is a known website to find freelance resources for organizations. You can select from a list of hundreds of grant writers with the pay/hour ranging from only $11 to $150.
  • Fiverr – Fiverr is another website that is much like Upwork and lets you choose from a list of thousands of grant researchers and writers. You can check out reviews by other clients, all their services, and their pay/hour on the website. The lowest pay listed there is $10/hour and the highest goes up to $200/hour. However, the pay/resource depends on the package you select for yourself.
  • Linkedin – Who doesn’t know about Linkedin? It’s the best networking site for professionals, recruiters, and job seekers out there. You can post a job and find grant writers from across the globe, speak with them, discuss the pay, and much more with utmost ease and efficiency.
  • Indeed – 30,00,000+ companies worldwide use Indeed to find the right candidate for their jobs. You will have to choose a subscription plan on the website to be able to search for unlimited resumes and contact candidates.

6 Steps to Hiring The Right Grant Writer for Your Nonprofit

how to hire a grant writer


1. Determine your requirements

Before hiring a grant writer, you need to decide what you need. Do you want someone to research and apply for grants or just someone to write the proposals? Hiring an experienced grant writer to research and find new grant options may be an excellent choice for smaller nonprofits with little free time and experience with grants.


2. Set up a shared drive

Hiring a grant writer means you will be sharing files. Any writer will need immediate access to documents and budgets to write a quality proposal. In many cases, grant writers will work remotely. It is best practice to assign one contact person for the grant writer to contact whenever they have a question. This person can be in charge of creating a shared drive for the writer and including the following files:

  • Organization’s strategic plan
  • Nonprofit’s history
  • Financials (990s, budgets, etc)
  • Job or program descriptions
  • Other grants that have won funding in the past

3. Find a grant writer

how to hire a grant writer

There are online sites that help you find grant writers from across the globe. Check the section above to know about them. For some nonprofits, a more traditional approach may be best. Connecting with other nonprofits, donors, and volunteers can provide your organization with unexpected options.


4. Figure out payment

Payment will be a primary concern for both writer and nonprofit. When searching for a grant writer, you must decide if you’ll pay by the hour, flat fee, or retainer. Earlier, we have discussed the cost of hiring a grant writer and where to find them. As you know, it varies as per experience and the skills you need. It might be profitable for your organization to invest some extra money if you’re looking to win that grant.

Hiring a grant writer on retainer can also be beneficial for some organizations. They provide you with grant source research, let you know of new grant opportunities, prepare proposals, and provide ongoing advice and consultation.


5. Determine a timeline

Payment is only part of the story. Creating a timeline both sides agree on will make the process much easier. Generally, a grant writer is not an employee. You are paying for their time, so do not waste it! One way to do this is to discuss your grant writer’s process initially and provide the requested information as quickly as possible.


6. Stay connected

Grant writing is a long-term project. If you find a writer you like, do not lose them! Quality grant writers are an essential source for nonprofits. So when you find one that fits your organization, keep in touch and form a relationship that can help the organization for grants to come.


What to Include in Your Grant Writer Job Post

grant writer job description

Your grant writer job post will ensure you find the right talent from a pool of thousands. Not every grant writer or researcher will fit your needs. Hence, you need to be very specific about what your job type is, what your “skill” needs are, and the kind of grants you usually apply for.


1. Job post title

The title should be simple and direct. One look at it and the potential candidates should know what you’re looking for. That will make sure you’re not attracting unsuitable people to your job post.

Senior grant researcher and writer needed for 501(c)(3) education nonprofit


2. Job or payment type

Mention the type of job/payment you’re willing to offer. Are you okay with remote workers from any part of the world? Will you be hiring a grant writer full-time or part-time? Are you looking for a writer on a retainer basis? You can also mention the hourly/monthly pay you’re willing to offer and the desired start date/month. That way, your candidates can decide where or not the job is right for them.


3. Job description

Briefly mention the kind of work your nonprofit is into, grants you apply for, any new type of grants you’re eyeing, the job scope, the background your ideal grant writer should have, any particular experience you’re looking for, and the average length of your projects.

You can also add any qualifications or certifications you might be giving preference to. For example, if you’re an education nonprofit, you would be preferring someone with experience in researching, finding, and submitting relevant grants.

Make the description concise and break it into bullet points to give your job post a neater look.


4. Duties and responsibilities

This is the most crucial section of your job post. More so for your potential candidates. Make sure you’re listing every possible responsibility you’d want your grant writer to take. Starting from researching the best opportunities to understanding and adhering to grant guidelines to collaborating with staff and departments, gathering data to writing to submitting to cultivating relationships in the industry.

  • Carry out prospect research on corporations, agencies, and foundations, and analyze each grant funding opportunity to determine a possible match with the organization’s needs.
  • Create and cultivate relationships with grantor contacts, provide any written updates, and schedule appointments if needed with foundations or grantors to ensure support throughout the process.

Final Thoughts

Grant writers are an excellent option for your nonprofit. Professional writers can help research and apply for grants that fund your organization’s operational costs and programs. We’ve written an article to help you write effective grant proposals. This will give you an idea of what else you might want to look for while hiring a grant writer.

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Kristine Ensor is a freelance writer with over a decade of experience working with local and international nonprofits. As a nonprofit professional she has specialized in fundraising, marketing, event planning, volunteer management, and board development.

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