How To Become A Grant Writer

If you’re looking for a purposeful job as a writer, then a grant writer may be the perfect fit for you. A grant writer has one main goal, and that is to secure funding for nonprofits. This exciting field of writing is not only interesting but highly rewarding but how do you become a grant writer?

Grant writers don’t just draft grant proposals but juggle many aspects of grant writing. Grant writers also need many skills to effectively communicate the type of funding they’re looking for through their proposals. To become a grant writer, you will need to follow a list of steps to help you gain experience, learn and improve your writing skills, and get started in grant writing.

1. Acquire A Degree

The first step towards becoming a grant writer is to acquire a degree. While this is not always necessary, and there are other means of obtaining some kind of grant writing certification, having a degree gives you more options when starting your career in grant writing.

A bachelor’s degree is required for grant writing. A bachelor’s degree can be obtained in any of the fields of English, Journalism, Communications, and Marketing. There is no specific grant writing degrees, but any undergraduate program that involves writing especially persuasive writing, can help give you the foundational skills needed to become a grant writer.

Professional organizations may require you to have a degree as one of the minimum requirements to apply for a job as a grant writer. In addition, a degree has a lot of credibility and makes it much easier to compete in a competitive job market. Professional organizations may even consider your job application if you have a degree in Business, Psychology, Education, and Political Science.

But studying towards a degree is just the first step in the grant writing process. Once you’ve completed your degree, you may also need to obtain a grant writing certification.

2. Look Into Getting A Grant Writing Certification

There are many colleges and universities that offer grant writing certifications. Many institutions do not require you to have a degree to study toward a grant writing certification. If you decide only to do a certification instead of a degree, you can still become a grant writer, and there will be plenty of opportunities to help you succeed as a writer.

Professional certifications in grant writing are designed to help novice and slightly experienced grant writers master the skills needed to be grant writers. These certifications can be completed online or at a physical institution. Some certification programs may include other writing topics and focus on different skills as part of the course.

Some of the benefits of obtaining a grant writing certification include the following:

  • Cost-effective option for those who are unable to afford a degree
  • Focused mainly on grant writing but may cover a few other topics to help improve your skills
  • Most certifications have a shorter duration of study compared to degree programs
  • Grant certifications provide you with credibility and provide you with the potential to earn more

A few certified courses on grant writing that you may want to consider are:

  1. Tim Whitney – Grant writing for nonprofits. This Udemy course is designed for beginners and taught by Tim Whitney, and is just 1.5 hours long. Attendees will also be able to access several downloadable resources and receive a certificate upon completion.
  2. University of Georgia – Fundamentals of grant writing. The fundamentals of grant writing will equip writers with the skills needed to start a grant writing career. This is an online course and will take 24 hours to complete.
  3. Learn Grant Writing – grant writing, from start to funded. This flagship course was developed by Amazon’s best-seller Meredith Noble and is an entry-level course to help you become a successful grant writer.
  4. San Diego University – Professional certificate in grant writing. The professional certificate in grant writing is a ten-week online course that provides prospective grant writers with a detailed understanding of grants and funding research and grant proposal development.
  5. Grantsmanship Center – Competing for federal grants. This certification focuses on writing federal grants and is the best course for those looking into this field of grant writing. This course covers some of the complexities involved in federal grant proposals.

3. Learn How To Write Grant Proposals

Once you’ve completed your degree and grant writing certification, you can move on to practicing and learning how to grant proposals. Most courses will provide an overview or provide you with the requirements needed to write a grant proposal. This information can be used along with other online resources to help you draft your first grant proposal.

Most grant proposals follow the same format with a few adjustments implemented according to the type of grant application you’re writing. Grant proposals usually include a cover letter, executive summary, describe the need, lists goals and objectives, describe methods and strategies, budget and organizational information, and a detailed description of where the funding will be used.

There are many helpful online resources with templates that can help guide you in writing your first few proposals. Some of the best resources for grant writing are:

  • NP guides – a framework for writing grants for nonprofits
  • Community toolbox – A toolkit that helps provide an overview and samples of a grant application
  • Learning candid – Collection of grant proposals and examples to help guide you in writing your first grant proposal

4. Volunteer To Gain Experience

When starting as a grant writer, it may be challenging to approach a professional organization without some grant writing experience. Luckily, there are many opportunities for you to volunteer at local nonprofits to gain experience.

You may not be given the opportunity to write grants straight away and may need to be involved in a few other projects first to learn more about the nonprofit, but over time you could start writing grants for small funded projects and work towards projects that require more funding.

It may be a good idea to volunteer at a few different organizations to make sure you have enough grant writing experience and can add this to your resume and portfolio.

You can look for grant writing opportunities on Indeed and Linkedin. To look for local nonprofits, you can use Great nonprofits and Volunteer Match.

5. Add Grant Writer To Your List Of Services/Skills

After volunteering as a grant writer and gaining experience, you can add grant writer to your list of services/skills. This involves updating your professional profile on your website, LinkedIn pages, social media, and other listings sites.

This is a great way to market yourself and let possible recruiters know you are proficient in grant writing. Even if you don’t have that much experience, you can still use the title grant writer so recruiters can easily find you on LinkedIn and other job sites.

Always accurately list your experience level; you don’t want to accept a position you aren’t ready for or don’t have the skill set to complete a specific type of grant writing. If you want to do grant writing as a freelancer, you can set up your website and start marketing your services on sites like Freelancer and Fiverr.

6. Choose Your Field Of Grant Writing

Grant writing is a diverse field; most grant writers will want to write for various institutions, while others will stick to one area of grant writing. There is always a demand for grant writers and opportunities in different fields of grant writing.

Some of the most common grant-writing industries you may be interested in exploring are:

Popular Industries For Of Grant Writers
IndustryDescription
Human and Civil RightsHuman and civil rights focus on protecting and defending human rights issues. These often require funding to help fight poverty, help improve equality in the workplace, and other humanitarian issues.
Child WelfareChild welfare relies heavily on grants for some child-related welfare issues. Many child welfare organizations need funding to support children in homes and families in need.
EnvironmentalEnvironmental grants cover various sizes of nonprofits, some big and some small. Some grant applications may be for improving environmental facilities or funding projects like land clean-ups and reducing environmental impact.
HealthcareHealthcare nonprofits are focused on raising funds to help improve healthcare facilities and help fund clinical trials. This type of grant writing is usually federal grants.
HomelessnessGrant writing to tackle homelessness will provide funding for meal programs, help homeless shelters, and help cover the cost of rehab and job training programs.
Animal WelfareIf you’re passionate about helping animals, you may enjoy grant writing for animal welfare associations. This funding can help shelters cover their operational costs and also help with sterilization drives and veterinary care.
EducationGrant writers in the educational fieldwork for colleges, schools, universities, and other educational institutions. The purpose of an educational grant writer is to obtain funding for educational programs.
Arts and CultureGrant writing in the arts and culture sector involves applying for funding for community arts and culture facilities and promoting local arts and culture programs in schools.
HousingHousing nonprofits focus on creating housing opportunities for those that are less fortunate. Grant writing for the housing sector involves obtaining funding for housing projects and affordable housing.
Community DevelopmentCommunity development programs are focused on uplifting and developing communities. Funding for this may include starting more food banks, charity events, or educational programs for youth development.

7. Build A Writing Portfolio

Building a professional portfolio is vital to becoming a successful grant writer. Your portfolio should showcase your grant applications and other previously completed work. In addition, a portfolio can be sent with your resume when applying for jobs and will give recruiters a good idea of your capabilities.

A grant writing portfolio also allows recruiters to analyze your style of grant writing. If they are happy with your portfolio they may even offer you a more prominent position in their company.

A good grant writing portfolio showcases your diverse writing skills, is written professionally, and is targeted at the industry and position you’re applying for.

8. Look For Opportunities In Professional Organizations

Once you’ve built your portfolio, obtained a degree and writing certification, and some experience in grant writing, you can move on to apply for grant writing positions. Grant writers can work as freelancers on a contractual basis, part-time or full-time.

Once you’ve decided on the type of job best suited to you, you can start looking for jobs. Online job boards, linked in, and referrals are great ways to scope out what jobs are available for grant writers and which you can apply for. These sites can also indicate the skills recruiters are looking for in prospective grant writers.

Applying for your first grant writing position may seem daunting, but it will help you get started on finding a job and will also give you some experience in being interviewed.

9. Start Your Own Grant Writing Business

If you prefer flexibility and freelance work, then starting your own grant writing business may be a good option. Getting into the grant writing business can be challenging, but when you market your services and volunteer at a few nonprofits, you may make some valuable connections that could help bring you business.

There are many benefits to being a freelance grant writer and starting your own business. These benefits include being your own boss, having a flexible working schedule, having good income potential, and making an impact through your work.

10. Keep Up To Date With Industry Trends And Developments

Successful grant writers always stay on top of industry trends and new developments. Grant proposals need to align with the current trends even to be considered for funding. Some of the most notable recent developments in grant writing include:

  1. Organizations working together. Organizations are no longer solely offering funding but are working together to do more good and fund more projects that make a difference.
  2. Including data in grant proposals. There is an increased demand for including relevant data in grant proposals. Funding organizations expect grant applicants to demonstrate how the funding will be used with actual data-driven facts.
  3. Increasing the focus on reports. Funders expect grant writers to include reports to support their funding requests before approving any funding.
  4. Innovation. Grant proposals need to be innovative to stand out. Grant proposals that all look the same get lost amongst many other proposals submitted and are less likely to be accepted than a well-thought-out and innovative grant proposal.
  5. Social Media. NPOs who have social media pages and keep up to date with trends in social media are more likely to receive funding and have an increased awareness of their cause. Social media is also a great platform to look for funders and those willing to invest in NPOs.
  6. Adaptability. Funders may have questions about your grant proposal and require some adaptability with certain aspects of your proposal. Adaptability is one of the skills necessary to be an excellent grant writer.

11. Update Your Resume

A resume is essential when becoming a grant writer. A grant writer will use a resume when applying for future jobs, and a well-drafted resume will give grant writers a competitive edge over other job applicants.

Like other resume’s your resume should include a header, a resume summary or personal statement, your employment history, a list of skills, your education, and a portfolio. When compiling your resume for a job position, it is essential to research the company. Look at their history and what they do, and learn about the staff and your prospective boss.

This information can help you personalize your resume for this position and direct your attention to the appropriate writing style when compiling your resume.

12. Join A Grant Writers Association

Joining a grant writers association can provide you with more opportunities to network and make connections in the industry. You will also have access to conferences, seminars, and courses. Joining a grant writers association also allows you to get in touch with other grant writers that can share valuable knowledge about the industry and their experiences as grant writers.

A few grant writers’ associations you can join are the Grant professionals association, American grant writers association, and Puget Sound grant writers association.

13. Get networking

Networking is an important step in creating a successful grant writing career. Through networking, you not only have access to job opportunities but can build mutually beneficial relationships and gain an infinite amount of knowledge that can prove invaluable to your career.

The most successful people have taken full advantage of networking, and there are a few fantastic benefits to networking that can enhance your career.

  • It gets you noticed. When you put work into networking, people start to recognize who you are and what you offer. This means more room for you to get seen and market your grant writing skills.
  • Acts as an exchange for new ideas. Networking allows you to exchange your ideas and get new ideas from others. With an idea exchange, you build lasting relationships and can implement new ideas into your writing and workplace.
  • Presents new opportunities. Networking offers new opportunities like meeting new clients and business owners and being invited to business events that could lead to new business opportunities.
  • Provides access to more resources. Some new resources can be accessed through networking. Meeting new people may provide insight into emerging trends and help you find new ways to improve your writing career.

14. Keep Improving Your Skills

As a grant writer, you can continuously improve your writing skills. The more grant writing proposals you complete, the better your writing will become. You can improve your grant writing skills by taking on new challenges and compiling a grant application for a new company that is a bit out of your comfort zone.

You can also improve your writing skills by becoming a research specialist. Researching helps you find new grant writing opportunities and keep up to date with the latest information on grant writing.

Have you considered copyediting for other grant writers? Reading grant applications written by different writers can help you improve your writing. You’ll also learn new grant writing techniques and new ways to research by reading through other grant applications.

Improve your writing skills using a few tools like writing prompts, grant writing worksheets, grant writing classes, blogs, and podcasts.

Ways To Improve Your Grant Writing Skills
Writing promptsWriting prompts are helpful questions that help you formulate your grant application. Some prompts include:   What do you want to communicate to people about your nonprofit?   Why are you applying for this grant?  
Grant writing worksheetsGrant writing worksheets not only help you with writer’s block but can also help develop your writing skills and improve your grant writing proposals.
Grant writing classesThere are numerous online courses that can help improve your grant writing skills. Some are paid classes and courses, while others are free. Both offer options that work well in improving your writing skills.
Blogs and podcastsBlogs and podcasts by experts in the grant writing field can give you tips on improving your writing and help you with the basic techniques for writing successful grant applications. Blogs are quick reads and an easy way to gain more knowledge on grant writing. Podcasts are easy to listen to and can be played while busy with your daily activities.

Conclusion

There are so many resources available for those looking to become grant writers. A grant writer is a unique and highly desired job that requires many skills and talented writing. Grant writers can work in many different fields and have the opportunity to experience a rewarding career that has a positive impact on the world.

References

https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/finding-a-job/how-to-become-grant-writer-no-experience

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/what-does-take-become-grant-writer-get-ahead-by-linkedin-news

https://www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/2014/youre-a-what/grant-writer.htm

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c9-bEpKKaxs

Alan Reiner
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