Maybe you’re a newbie grant writer, and you aren’t sure how to price services. Or you’re already an accomplished grant writer that isn’t experiencing the kind of growth you’re after.
This article is part of a 4-part grant writer professional series.
In episode #189 we talked about how now the right time is to get off the floundering fence and into freelance grant writing with more clarity and confidence.
Then, last week, in episode #190, we covered how you can get and keep nonprofit clients.
In this article, I’m going to build on what we already discussed by giving you the complete blueprint to develop pricing concepts.
By the end of this article, you’ll have so much clarity about freelance grant writing and you’ll see how everything fits together.
The Pricing Struggle is Real for Freelance Grant Writers
Anytime you’re trying to develop pricing and packaging, it can be hard.
Because in the beginning, everything’s new. Things like what to charge, how to charge, and when to charge can be frustrating and lead to paralysis.
And you can see that as you grow, you come up against new challenges.
Even if you have experience with freelance grant writing already, you’re always looking for the 80/20 rule. You don’t have time to waste, so you want to find the 20 percent that’s going to produce 80 percent of the results.
That’s why these pricing proven tips will save you a ton of time. This is the exact blueprint you need to develop pricing that makes sense for you.
I remember nonprofit clients would come to me and I didn’t have prices or packages developed. It was more like they would come to me, and I would gauge to see if they would be able to pay.
And then I would do the proposal dance.
I would call my mentor, and say I wasn’t sure what to charge. Then we would do the back-and-forth thing. This wasted time instead of me just already figuring out my pricing.
Nonprofit clients don’t really want to come to you and tell you how to price your services. You may want them to tell you their budget, so you don’t have to figure out your pricing, but that is a slippery slope. Plus, it is not being a professional or stepping into your value.
But that’s the way a lot of startup freelance grant writers and nonprofit consultants think. So, it’s important for you to know your worth. It is also good for you to know how much time it takes you to do things.
1) Don’t Just Look at the Market for Your Pricing
Have you been looking around your area to see how much freelancer grant writers are charging?
Do you know the market rate?
Now, this isn’t always something you should do. Just because Jane Schmo is charging $50 an hour doesn’t mean that’s what you should charge.
Honestly, the majority of freelance grant writers are women, and tend to struggle with their pricing.
If Jane is only charging $50 per hour, due to imposter syndrome, then you might think $50 is the market rate. You might charge $50 and add to the systemic gender pricing issue without even realizing.
I go deep into this in episode 187 on why female grant writers struggle with pricing. I recommend that you listen to that podcast!
However, it is good to have a snoop around and see what people are charging. But this is NOT our holy grail.
It’s also interesting to see that a lot of men charge more for services but that doesn’t mean they have more experience. They may just have more confidence. So, women, get your confidence up!
Like I said, hold this with a grain of salt but be aware of it.
2) Consider Publishing Your Grant Writing Pricing on Your Website
There are two teams for this! A lot of service-driven industry do not publish their prices on their websites. Instead they have free 15-minute consultations or discovery calls.
This can be a good tactic as you are getting people to know you before they see your prices.
However, this can also be a huge time suck. People may also just be wanting a free chat and be price shopping.
The Downfall of Free Services
I used to offer free consultations but very quickly got burned out. I found that charging people for my time or publishing my prices on my website vetted out people who weren’t serious.
If you do decide to publish your prices online, then be sure to update your website when you update your prices!
Remember, you can update your pricing on your website whenever you want to!
When I did put my pricing online and charged for my consultation, I could then focus on what was bringing in revenue for my business. And the nonprofits that would pay for the consultation calls were WAY more apt to become clients.
3) Factor in Your Grant Writing Experience and Skills
If you’ve been writing grants for five years and you’re going to transition into freelance writing, you will be able to charge a different rate than somebody who’s never written a grant.
Definitely price yourself accordingly.
If you’ve written grants but have only written them on a volunteer basis, or as an intern, that still counts as experience. People don’t need to know that you didn’t get paid for it, they need to know that you’ve done the work.
Of course, you need to price where you’re going to feel comfortable with your value. So, if you think,
“Other people are only charging $25 an hour in my town, and I’ve got a few years of experience, so maybe I’ll just start there. But I’m really not going to show up when I’m just getting $25 an hour because it doesn’t really make me excited, and I really can’t cover my bills with that.”
That’s a clear sign to not go by what other people are charging (tip #1)!
Price at what covers your expenses, overhead, taxes, profit, and also what makes you show up 100%.
When starting out, I know many of us freelance grant writers have undercharged and thought:
“Oh my gosh, I don’t believe I took on that client and I only charge that and I’m working so much right now. I’m putting in so much value and I’m not getting paid in return for the value I put in!” Croak sound here!
That’s very important to show up fully and excited about it.
4) Factor the Time it Takes to Write Grants
This is important to consider because a lot of freelance grant writers like to offer their packages or pricing for writing a specific grant vs. pricing hourly.
To get to an understanding of what to charge per package or grant it is good to have an estimated idea of how long it will take you to complete the grant.
Even if you are charging for a package or grant rate, I still recommend you track your time for yourself. That way you will start to really understand your time and how to manage clients, when it’s time to hire someone, etc.
You can open an Excel sheet and just track your time per client.
However, if you want more intuitive tech to help you, then you might want to check out Toggl.
In this way you can just add a client and then click on the timer whenever you are working on a project for them. You can also specify what types of projects you are working on for that client, i.e. grant research, grant writing, meetings, etc. And a click of a button you can also send them reports. This helps if you are charging hourly.
However, even if you are charging package rates you can reflect each month on where your time went. This will help you when you want to break down the 80/20 rule of where to dedicate your time.
This can also show you how much time it really takes to write foundation grants vs. federal grants.
Time is Money
For example, if you charge $5,000 to write a foundation grant and $7,500 to write a federal grant, but when you figure out it takes you 25 hours to write a foundation grant and 100 hours to write a federal grant. Er, the math is then wrong, and you will want to change your package rates.
Of course, you need to remember you need to first have a good idea of what your values is as we discussed above.
Because let’s say you only charge $50 per hour and you know that it only takes 25 hours to write a foundation grant, that would be $1,250.
- However, is that foundation grant worth more than that?
- Are you writing a grant that could help secure $100,000 or be a higher benefit for the executive director to NOT have to write it?
So be careful when you price hourly (or just don’t do it), and make sure your hourly rate is high enough to reflect your worth.
Many people like to charge package rates because the better they get at writing grants the quicker they can write them. If they charge hourly, then it bites them because the more experienced they become at mastering a grant the less they charge! Oh snap!
So, if you do charge hourly make sure your hour rate reflects the years of experience, all your expenses, profits, and value!
- Don’t Just Look at the Market for Your Pricing
- Consider Publishing Your Grant Writing Pricing on Your Website
- Factor in Your Grant Writing Experience and Skills
- Factor the Time it Takes to Write Grants
If you found this article helpful, others will too. So, give someone else a hand by sharing this video on Facebook, Twitter, or even sending a link to a friend. 😊