Everything You Need To Know Before Hiring a Freelance Grant Writer
Small nonprofits without development teams might struggle to consistently submit grant applications. So bringing on a freelance grant writer might sound like the perfect solution.
And it very well may be! Freelance grant writers can be wonderful additions to any nonprofit team. They can add capacity when resources are tight.
Here’s how to find a good grant writer for your organization—and make sure they’re a great fit!
Clarify Your Need for a Freelance Grant Writer
What you hire a freelance grant writer to do will depend on the specifics of your organization.
How are you staffed? What gaps are you looking for a grant writer to fill?
Do you have a list of funding opportunities already outlined, or will you need the writer to find them for you? Do you have previous proposals or other documents with enough information for a contractor to pull from?
Will you or your team be available for phone calls or meetings? Can you send your grant writer information in a timely fashion when they ask?
Finding a Good Grant Writer
There are two primary ways to find a freelance grant writer. The first is to create a job description and post it on websites with job boards, such as:
• American Grant Writers' Association (AGW)
• Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP)
• Facebook, or
• Your local nonprofit association
You may choose to find a freelancer through a basic Google search. If a freelance grant writer has their own website, they likely have a slate of regular clients, testimonials about their work, and their own processes and procedures.
Deciding on a Freelance Grant Writer
Finding the best fit for your organization will depend on your unique needs.
Here are some things you can consider when assessing a freelance grant writer:
• Your budget vs. their expertise and standard rate of compensation
• Their experience with various types of grants and organizations
• Their communication style and writing process
• Their tone and writing style, based on past grants they've written
• References or a combination of testimonials and past client work
• Professional certifications, if you've deemed them necessary
If your organization is on a tight budget, you may need to make concessions when it comes to level of experience or expertise.
How Do Freelance Grant Writers Get Paid?
You might be asking, “How much do I pay a freelance grant writer, anyway?”
Sticker shock isn’t uncommon when it comes to hiring a freelancer for the first time. Be prepared to spend at least $20 per hour for a newbie grant writer. More experienced grant writers may charge up to $200 per hour.
Typically, freelance grant writers get paid in one of a few ways:
• Monthly retainers
• Short-term contracts based on a specific length of time (i.e.: three or six months)
• Project-based (i.e.: each grant submitted or a set of ten potential funders researched)
Keep in mind that commission- or merit-based payment for freelance grant writers is frowned upon. There are many factors that go into funding decisions that are not under a grant writer’s control. So this kind of compensation is considered unethical by major associations like the Association of Fundraising Professionals and the American Grant Writers' Association.
A Little Preparation Goes a Long Way
Remember that a good freelance grant writer will likely have other clients and responsibilities. Be clear about your communication expectations from the start, and be mindful of entering into a relationship with a writer who cannot be available last-minute, for example, if that's what you prefer.
Taking the time to thoroughly outline your needs and expectations, as well as vet your ideal candidates, will make a world of difference in the end!