Grant writing is a lucrative branch of business/corporate copywriting that a ton of new freelance writers are getting into. In case you’ve been wondering how to become a grant writer, you’re in luck.
In this article, we’ll take you through all the steps you need to take to succeed as a professional grant writer, while also detailing why you should adopt a career as a grant writer.
Let’s get started
How to Become a Grant Writer: 6 Steps to Success
There is no universal equation to follow in order to begin a career as a grant writer.
However, there are ways that will work to boost your experience and help kick-start your grant writing career.
Here is a step-by-step guide on doing just that.
1. Earn an Undergraduate Degree
Most companies will require prospective grant writers to have at least an undergraduate degree.
An undergraduate degree hones skills such as corporate copywriting, research, communication, time management, and organization.
While the program and major of your bachelor’s degree is largely unrelated to this job, faculties such as English, Journalism, Communication, and Marketing may give you an advantage over those who hold other degrees.
Needless to say, any degree is always preferred over no degree at all.
The bottom-line is that a bachelor’s degree will open up more doors for you and give you better opportunities than applicants who many not have a degree.
2. Secure a Certification
If you really want to build up your profile and show recruiters how well-equipped you are for this career path, you may want to consider attending a grant-writing certification program.
These courses help beginners understand rules, templates, and the procedure of drafting grant applications and proposals in a practical capacity.
Not only do they familiarize you with the structure of a grant proposal, they give you ample practice as you write, edit, and re-write these drafts.
You can choose to study courses offered in your local communities, or you can opt for an online grant writing course. This option lets you go at your own pace, from the comfort of your home.
Ideally, you should attain technical writing courses since these are holistic and comprehensive online courses that cover all aspects and any form of technical writing.
What sets these grant writing classes apart from others, is the syllabus.
In addition to providing you with technical writing experience, they teach you other indispensable competencies, such as analyzing your audience and writing your resume to help you land job interviews.
You’ll receive a certificate of completion at the end of the course. This document proves your certification, and helps you gain credentials to show to potential recruiters.
3. Volunteer at Local Nonprofits
After going through your level of certifications, the next thing employers are likely to look for is experience.
Start your career by volunteering or interning at local nonprofit organizations.
You may initially be assigned tasks geared more towards general activities such as arranging fundraisers, instead of writing grant proposals. However, the hours you put in at the nonprofit will reflect your interest, commitment, and passion for this career.
You can start as early as high school as a part-time volunteer and work your way up as a full-time volunteer, you could even become a junior-level member of the organization.
This is where you can start offering to write up proposals for smaller-scale projects that require funding.
The more time you contribute to these local nonprofits, the more you can add to your resume. Building up your CV with appropriate, meaningful experience will bring you that much closer to a grant writing job.
4. Build a Network
Take advantage of the time you spend volunteering or interning at nonprofit organization. Network with successful grant writers, or those who are involved in the sectors you want to work in.
Meet with industry individuals outside of events, maybe even connect with them on LinkedIn. This is an easy way of staying in the loop, so you can keep learning about and get a better understanding of the industry and this job.
Having a network of individuals who see you put in the hours is beneficial to you in other ways as well.
You can request them to write letters of recommendation for you, or ask them to be a reference for you when you start applying for jobs.
5. Title Yourself as a Grant Writer
Let’s go back to where we discussed networking on LinkedIn.
This professional social media network is a great platform to connect with individuals who share your goals, values, and work ethic.
But that’s not all its useful for.
LinkedIn is one of the best places where recruiters can source employees that are specific to the role vacancies.
That said, individuals should know how to title and market themselves on the platform effectively, to be discovered by recruiters for jobs they desire.
Even if you don’t have a whole lot of experience, title yourself as a Grant Writer in your LinkedIn profile’s headline. This will make it much easier for you to be discovered when organizations search for grant writers on the social network.
Be sure to remain honest about your experience level with the recruiters, though.
6. Join an Association
Joining a grant writing association is like taking networking to the next level. Becoming a part of professional groups can provide you with more access opportunities such as seminars, conferences, job openings, and internships.
Getting the chance to interact with professional grant writers can really boost you from a novice to someone with insights and advice about the industry.
Why You Should Consider Being a Grant Writer
In recent times, there has been an increase in the number of freelancers (specifically writers) operating remotely. This includes all kinds of writers, specializing in all types of content.
The grant writer job description is most closely associated with the nonprofit sector. The industry’s activities stay more or less consistent despite the changing dynamics in the professional realm.
Aside from the non-profit sector, grant writers are sought after in corporate offices as well, especially in government/civil service entities. They work closely with field workers, drafting documents and writing up important request letters.
Additionally, they work with NGOs operating internationally. This is where a grant writer can get the highest amount of exposure, as they will probably work with writers from all over the world, creating all sorts of requests and demand drafts.
As they are an indispensable resource for organizations, they will always be in demand.
Nonprofit organizations may be the ones that plan and initiate projects, charities, and events that make a positive impact. But none of that is possible without proper funding. This is where a grant-writer comes in.
To know that your hours and efforts you exhausted at work have helped bring a change is quite a rewarding experience. This is always a big deciding factor when it comes to choosing a career.
Plus, that’s not the only reward, since grant writers are paid higher on average that several other types of writers and documentation specialists. This is well-deserved of them, since our compensation must reflect the effort we put into our jobs.
If you have started your own grant writing business as a freelancer, you can charge companies between $25-$100 dollars per hour for your services. This varies with your level of experience and the organization you choose to work for.
Adding onto that, organizations like to find grant-writers that can stick with them in the long-run. So if you’ve managed to satisfy organizations by winning them their grants – you’re likely to be offered a long-term contract.
A long-term contract contains a large volumes of grants, which means you’ll be able to make money consistently.
According to PayScale, grant-writers can make between $37-69k annually. Add to this the commissions ($11k annually) and profit-sharing ($22k annually) bonuses, and this becomes one of the most lucrative writing jobs out there.
How to Become a Grant Writer: 5 Necessary Skills
If you want to be a successful grant-writer, whether you’re self-employed or work under an agency, you need to have some skills as a requisite.
Here are the skills that we highly suggest you develop and polish in order to stand out as a grant-writer to recruiters.
1. Written communication
Being a good writer is an obvious requisite for a job such as grant writing. However, simply knowing how to write interesting content is not enough.
Writing grant proposals is not as simple as stating a cause and requesting grant money.
Your writing skills should effectively articulate your words, express them concisely with clarity and logic. The reader should not have to put too much effort into reading and comprehending the body of the text.
This is a skill that you should master and apply in the field (as a freelancer writing corporate documents) before looking for a grant writing job.
2. Research and Industry Knowledge
A grant-writer’s research skills are as important, if not more, than their ability to write effectively.
Research in a grant writing position extends to surveying the kinds of grants their organization qualifies for and which ones they are more likely to receive.
Grant writers also need to conduct audience analysis.
Thorough research of the prospective donors they are writing the proposal to will help writers craft a proposal relevant to the recipient and the funder.
Existing knowledge of how grants and financial assistance programs work will help potential grant writers land better jobs as well.
3. Persuasion and Persistence
Putting time and effort drafting your grant proposal doesn’t necessarily mean you will secure the funding your organization requires in the first go.
You need to be persuasive without sounding pushy, and good at articulating the potential recipient’s needs.
Being a persuasive writer while maintaining a formal tone is a strong skill that every recruiter will appreciate when evaluating a prospective grant-writer.
Being persistent with work and writing day in and day out to win grants is a demanding role – but it’s what sets apart a good grant writer from the rest.
A grant writer’s job involves tasks such as meeting deadlines, going through extensive paperwork, and coordinating with relevant people.
To be on top of things, it is essential that a grant writer possesses high-level organizational skills.
Since they are handling a lot of data at any one point, they need to be able to arrange it in a productive way and organize it into written form.
This skill also applies to the text of their proposals. It should be organized and flow seamlessly from one point to the next, while informing the reader.
5. Attention to Detail
Being detail-oriented is a distinguishing quality among successful grant-writers.
Effective grant-writers should be able to follow instructions to the T, while making sure all the relevant, required details are mentioned as needed.
Grantors receive several proposals at a time. If you’re writing to a potential funding entity and have a missing document or errors in your proposal, your application will likely be denied.
Following the guidelines of the proposal and ensuring every piece of documentation requested by the funder is included, are some of the details that a grant writer should pay close attention to.
An impressive grant-writer will be somewhat of a perfectionist in their tasks.
Wrapping It Up
And there you have it.
Now you know the steps you can take to become a competent grant writer, what skills will make you a desirable candidate, and what factors to weigh-in if you’re considering making this your career.
If you have a passion for writing and making a change, have experience with conducting research, and possess an eye for detail – grant-writing may be the perfect career choice for you!