Should I Hire a Grant Writer?
Simply deciding whether to hire a grant writer can be a wrenching experience because the implication is that you would be trusting someone else with your organization or program’s future. Nobody will have a greater stake in your organization than you do and if you are looking for someone to take such ownership, then you are on the wrong path – you should hire a Director of Development.
Organizations or individuals considering hiring a grant writing consultant should keep in mind five important considerations:
1.)YOU are in charge! Even though the grant writer will do the bulk of the creative work, the buck still stops with YOU! You will need to set the direction, provide clear objectives and be prepared to hold the grant writer accountable for the work you task him/ her with. Are you able/ prepared to do this?
2.)What is the cost/ benefit of hiring a contract grant writer vs. doing the work internally vs. hiring a full time Director of Development? Although grant writers may charge anywhere from $50-$200/ hour, it may still be more economical to hire someone on a contract basis; this way you only pay for work performed and don’t have to fringe benefits, healthcare, etc. which can be up to 50% of salary.
3.) Do you have the skill-set within your organization to do this on your own? If your staff is primarily running programs, they may not be qualified to write grants and do foundation research, and they probably do not have the time. Someone who writes grants on a daily basis will usually be much more efficient than program staff.
4.) Do your homework. Review your long term plan and make a link between your projected organizational growth and funding needs. Is there a gap? If so do you have a plan for bridging it? Do you have the capacity to fundraise within the organization.
5.) Research first. Are there foundations or other funding sources that serve your geographic region and program area that you have not applied to? Does your group meet the funding criteria? If there are one or more funding sources that are ‘good-fits’, from which that you feel you have a strong chance of receiving support, this is the place to start. You want to do all that you can to get a positive ROI from any grant writing consultant you hire, especially for the first contract.