All grant writers have been asked to write grants on commission at some point or another. And the good ones should tell you that it’s not allowed.

While paying a grant writer on commission may seem like a safe bet for a strapped organization, it’s actually considered unethical by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) and Imagine Canada’s Standards Program.

AFP outlines several reasons why the practice is unethical, concluding that “percentage-based compensation and finders fees may encourage abuse, imperil the integrity of the voluntary sector, and undermine the philanthropic values upon which it is based.”

I’ll give you a couple of other, simpler reasons:

Money can’t come out of a grant unless there’s a budget item for that expenditure. If you planned on paying someone on commission, it would need to appear as a line item in the grant’s budget, and it’s rare that a funder would provide support for this. 

Secondly, a grant writer does not have full control over whether or not their submission will be successful, and therefore should be paid for their work regardless.

When you hire a grant writer, you’re not paying for a guarantee of success. You’re hiring a grant writer for their experience and expertise, which will give your proposal a better chance of success.

Read more Grant Writing Tips.