A government proposal writer is a document specialist who helps gather the required documentation to help write the proposal that serves as a “sales pitch.”
But proposal writing isn’t merely convincing a state or federal government to provide funding. The services include deep research, development, writing, and editing. In some cases, an organization will hire an agency to collect documents and create the proposal. But if you can’t cover the cost, it’s better to go with contractors who specialize in government proposals.
Since an organization can only present its arguments in a written form, the proposal must be coherent, to the point, and easy to read. That also means that a generic proposal will rarely work. Every proposal should be personal instead.
Before writers start writing, they must develop a complete understanding of their clients, industry, and the overall project.
In grant writing, a 30 to 40% success rate is considered good. Still, to get to that level, you need a deep understanding of how organizations and governments work and convincing writing. Let’s explore the qualifications and responsibilities of proposal writers.
Proposal Writer Qualifications
To offer proposal writing services, a typical writer needs the following qualifications:
- Bachelor’s Degree in English, Journalism, or Marketing.
- A certificate in grant, proposal writing, technical writing, and/or nonprofit management.
- Excellent research skills.
- Excellent communication skills.
Keep in mind that you’ll need additional knowledge specific to the entity you’re proposal writing for. Writing for a social nonprofit isn’t the same as developing a proposal for a healthcare organization.
Although you can follow a grant template, remember that each proposal needs to be personal. Proposals are similar to marketing. If you don’t understand your audience, you’ll have a hard time developing compelling content.
Proposal Writer Responsibilities
Since the job is grant writer, you’d expect that the contractor spends most of their time writing. Creating government proposals usually takes more than 100 hours to finish.
in that period, the writer has the following responsibilities:
- Research – Research takes most of the time. You may spend half of the time preparing. Grant writers are good at writing, so the more significant challenge is developing a plan that will result in a robust proposal and meet the deadline. Without preparation, you’ll run circles, and grant procurement becomes next to impossible.
- Writing – Depending on the complexity of a project, you’ll take about a quarter of that time writing. Since a grant has several sections, including executive summary, budget assessment, and project explanation, you need to approach every section separately.
- Review – Finally, after finishing a proposal, you need to review your government proposals. You need to ensure that everything is coherent and, even more importantly, consistent. The last thing you want in government proposals is mentioning one piece of data on page three and contradicting yourself a few pages later.
If you don’t have a grant writing resume, be sure to highlight these three key points.
What is a Government Grant?
Now that we understand what the writer does let’s explore what are government grants and government contracts. Government grants are funds that projects receive for various public projects.
The federal government issues about $500 billion worth of grants annually to local government agencies and potential government contractors.
Once a government announces a request for government proposals (RFP), you only have so much time to write RFP responses.
First, grant contractors (applying organizations or companies) ask for a specific funding amount. Then, the government issuing the grant needs to review and ensure that the project complies with the grant’s terms.
If a federal space entity approves the solicitation, the contractor signs a government contract and gets the funding. On that note, government contracts are formal agreements between a company or business and government agencies that list the general agreement between the two parties.
Although signing a government contract is predominantly suitable for a company, there are benefits and drawbacks. If you’re in the proposal writing business, it’s good to know so you can advise businesses that look for your services.
Government Grant Benefits
After a company or a nonprofit signs a government contract, they get the funding. For companies, it’s a great way to kickstart their first or latest projects.
Some of the key benefits are:
- Government grants award significant amounts of money, usually enough for a small business to meet its goals.
- Government contracts provide a stable funding supply that lasts several years.
- Getting a government grant helps with the company’s reputation. It’s much easier to get future grants after landing a government business contract.
- If the business meets its goals, they don’t need to pay anything back.
Government Grant Disadvantages
While government contracting is an appealing offer, a business should know the following things before applying.
- It isn’t easy to create convincing grant proposals. That’s why businesses hire a proposal writing agency or a freelancer who offers proposal writing services.
- Even after a company gets the grant, they need to track the funding, gather spending data, submit reports, and prepare for possible audits.
- Besides having a stellar project, organizations also need to comply with internal grant terms. Often, it takes time to assess if an organization or a company is eligible for a grant.
How do you Write a Good Government Proposal?
Grant proposal writing takes time and patience. Since the company can’t present its case verbally, you must showcase why it should get the grant via the written proposal.
Prepare the Field
Before you even start writing, you should encourage your clients to introduce themselves to the government contracting agency. The best introduction is if the organization has somebody familiar with somebody inside the government agency.
Alternatively, a simple phone call can establish a solid foundation for future interactions, including proposal review. If you don’t get a response, the next step is to wait and make contact again.
Ensure the Program is a Good Fit
Since everybody wants to send the RFP response as quickly as possible, many organizations don’t spend the time to find out if their program fits the grant. For example, just because you might be working with a health organization doesn’t mean they can get a health project grant.
The 2nd step ties perfectly to the first step. Informing yourself about the grant gets you the answers you need and helps create a tailored proposal and connect with the grant provider.
Doublecheck Application Instructions
When preparing, use all the tools at your disposal (that includes the organization’s team members) to check instructions. Until you get a complete understanding of the grant application basics, you shouldn’t start proposal writing.
Failing to do so creates a mess. The deeper you go into proposal writing, the harder it gets to fix previous errors in proposals. Although it can seem as if preparation is eating at your time, it saves the time you’d waste fixing avoidable mistakes.
Check the Funding Period
Even if you create perfect proposals every time, you’re still bound to fail if the project doesn’t fit the issued funding period.
Always check and discuss the project’s timeline and sync with the federal government proposal’s timeline.
Create a Clear Budget
Although the federal government is more than happy to fund great projects, it’s still money at the end of the day. Meaning, your budget section should be easy to understand and 100% accurate.
Not only must the numbers match, but the budget must match the project’s narrative. Finally, if you can distill every penny and where it goes, you’re much more likely to win the grant.
Now that you have the basic idea of preparing for proposal development let’s discuss how much proposal writers earn.
What is a Government Grant Proposal Writer Salary?
According to ZipRecruiter, the average salary for grant proposal writers is $72,080, and it can range from $11,000 to $93,500 per year.
Considering that the average is on the higher end of the spectrum, creating proposals for government contracting can be a lucrative career.
Although your services will differ based on your client, these are the essential things you should know as a grant writer. Offering proposal writing services is an active job, but you can expect a successful career if you keep your attention to detail and avoid the generic proposal trap.
A great way to start is taking a grant writing course to master the required skills if you’re new. Not only will you be more ready, but getting a valid certification helps you land new jobs and offer better pricing. Good luck.
Here are frequently asked questions and answers about developing proposals.
How to become a grant writer?
You should take online courses, investigate grants, and master guidelines by reviewing different offerings to become successful. Another great way is networking with existing writers and possible clients. This helps create connections and first job opportunities.
How long does it take to become a grant writer?
While most entry-level jobs require several years of experience, you can start early by volunteering or landing an internship. You’ll need less experience, and it is the perfect learning ground for developing your proposal chops.
Can anyone do grant proposal writing?
Since it’s a specific line of business, just because someone is a writer doesn’t mean they are fit for creating grant proposals. The job requires productive communication with clients, understanding, and excellent writing skills. Besides creativity, writers need to present vital elements clearly and simply so that anyone understands.
If you are new to proposal writing and are looking to break-in, we recommend taking our Proposal Writing Certification Course, where you will learn the fundamentals of being a proposal writer and how to write winning proposals.