Why Grant Consultants Make 70% More Than Grant Writers

In a 2009 survey of its members, the American Association of Grant Professionals (AAGP) found that grant consultants made an average of $90,000 per year while grant writers made an average of $53,010. This article will expose 4 reasons why consultants make 70% more than salaried grant writers.

Reason 1 – Charge More Per Project

While grant consultants are freelance professionals who charge for services rendered on a project by project basis, professional grant writers typically work for one agency on salary. Consultants can therefore charge more on a project that grant writers who are salaried and do not have the flexibility to charge more for projects. Grant writers get paid a salary and cannot charge more per grant.

Reason 2 – Include Bonuses

Consultants may include bonuses into their contracts. The AAGP code of ethics allows for performance-based compensation like bonuses “provided such bonuses are in accordance with prevailing practices” used by the agencies and “are not based on a percentage of grant monies.” On the other hand, few salaried grant writers ever negotiate bonuses into their contracts. So, they are not paid bonuses.

Reason 3 – Increase Number of Grants You Submit

Since consultants are paid per project, if they want to make more money, they simply increase the number of grants they submit. In other words, the more grant proposals they submit, the more money they make.

They are not paid from the grant once awarded, as is thought by the average American. Being paid out of a grant is a myth. Consultants are paid up front regardless of whether a grant is funded or not.

By increasing the number of grants submitted, you can raise the amount you make. However, salaried grant writer are paid the same rate regardless of the number of grants submitted, unless specified otherwise in the contract.

Reason 4 – Convert Benefits Into Income

To their advantage, salaried grant writers make an additional 30% (or $16,039) in benefits annually. For many, this is a huge advantage of being on a salary. Consultants do not typically include benefits in their contracts. Therefore, they do not have this luxury.

On the other hand, consultants can argue that “no benefits” is a significant savings to the agency and justify asking for more money either on an hourly or project basis. They can instead seek covering health and retirement costs by other less-costly means.

For example, I was working on salary with benefits for a college. I discovered that if I billed per hour and took myself off salary with benefits, I could actually make more and work less than half the time. The amazing part is that it cost the college and grant less, too! Go figure.

In summary, consultants make 70% more than grant writers on salary for 4 main reasons: consultants can charge more on a grant, may include bonuses, can increase their pay by increasing the number of grants they write, and may convert benefits into income by showing a savings in benefits.

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