Are you considering adding grants to your development plan?
Do you want to increase the number of grant awards you secure every year?
Would you like to submit your first federal grant application this year?
I bet you answered “yes” to one (if not all) of those questions. We’re all looking for new ways to bring in more revenue for our nonprofit missions. You may have also considered hiring an employed or contract grant writer to improve your fundraising capacity. Before you do, know this: professional grant writers cannot work on commission. Why?
Here is a synopsis of the guidelines from both organizations: “In accordance with the standards of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and the Grant Professionals Association, payment of the fees is not contingent upon any set amount of funds raised.”
If I were to work on commission, I would lose my GPA membership (possibly for life) and my GPC (Grant Professional Certified) designation. I would also lose the respect of my colleagues, something I’ve worked for more than a decade to develop. This is actually one way you can determine if the grant writer you’re interviewing is experienced, because professionals will never offer or agree to work on commission. We have too much to lose if we do.
Grant success is NOT dependent solely upon the work of a grant writer.
Now this might sound like I’m dissing my entire profession or trying to push off responsibility. Neither is true. Certainly, grant success is partially dependent on how well a grant is written (or else why would an entire cadre of skilled professionals do nothing but grant writing). But grant success is also dependent on four critical organizational factors: Credibility, Capacity, Evidence, and Sustainability.
Obviously, a grant writer cannot control every element on that list. For example if the grant writer is just one member of the development department, someone else is likely responsible for about 80% of the development plan (like raising funds through special events, direct mail, etc.).
Considering these factors, paying a grant writer on commission is inherently unfair to the organization and the writer. Both are responsible for the win or loss.
I get it. Many service professionals work on commission. I’m asked at least once a month why we don’t work like sales people. My response is always, “Because I’m not a salesperson. I’m a development professional and a grant writer. I’m committed to missions, not dollars.”
How do you pay your grant writers?