Whether you're an employee or a consultant, grant writing is a hard, arduous task. From researching the money to chasing the money to often having to manage the money, it's like being a rat in a maze. There must be some reward if you make it through the maze, but what is that reward? It's your win rate!

In the grants-related industry, your win rate is what gets you a promotion, a new client, or even a bonus from your employer. Calculate your personal win rate by counting the number of grant applications you wrote and submitted in the previous calendar year. Set an annual goal for increasing your win rate to become a much desired grant writer.

Note that formula grant applications don't count because they're typically fill-in-the-blank applications with guaranteed funding based on a preset formula. (For example, if your school district has 300 children enrolled and the state department of education has formula money allocated on a per-pupil basis —$2,000 per student — filling out a formula grant application gets the district $600,000.) Only competitive grant applications are calculated in your win rate.

Say you wrote and submitted 12 competitive grant applications in the last calendar year. Out of the 12 applications you submitted, 9 were funded. Because 9 is 75 percent of 12, that means your win rate for the past calendar year is 75 percent.

To determine whether that's a good win rate, check out the following chart:

Win Rate Translation What Your Rate Means to an Employer or Client
0–29% Failure Either this individual does not write many grant requests or writes them badly!

This individual is either a time waster or a resource waster.

Fire, do not promote, or do not contract with this grant writer.
30–49% Barely performing This individual has a poor track record for bringing in grant monies.

We pay or contract with this person for full-time work; however, our return on investment is under 50%.

Red flag; start requiring a monthly work plan to see if we're getting what we're paying for. If not, fire, do not promote, or do not contract with this grant writer.
50–74% Satisfactory This individual is bringing dollars in our door.

This individual is working hard to increase our return on investment.

What resources can we provide to help this individual increase our return on investment?
75–90% Good We have made a good investment.

Our return on investment is high.

This individual is continually bringing dollars in our door.

How can we acknowledge our appreciation for having made the right choice?
91–100% Guru status We got lucky when we hired or contracted with this individual.

We have definite proof of a high return on our investment in this individual.

We can't pay this individual her true worth; she will likely be looking for a higher paying job or contract in the near future.