How to Become a Grant Writer without Experience
This article will 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.
How to Become a Grant Writer: 6 Steps to Success
There is no universal equation to follow to begin a career as a grant writer.
However, some ways will boost your experience and help kick-start your grant writing career.
Here is a step-by-step guide on doing just that. If you're interested in learning via video, then watch below. Otherwise, skip ahead.
1. Earn an Undergraduate Degree
Most companies will require prospective grant writers to have an undergraduate degree.
An undergraduate degree hones corporate copywriting, research, communication, time management, and organization skills.
While your bachelor's degree is mainly unrelated to this job, faculties such as English, Journalism, Communication, and Marketing may give you an advantage over those who hold other degrees.
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 may not have a degree.
2. Secure a Certification
If you 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, but they also 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 a grant writing certification since these are holistic and comprehensive online courses covering all aspects and forms of grant writing.
What sets these grant writing certifications and 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 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 a nonprofit organization—and network with successful grant writers or those involved in the sectors you want to work.
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 better understand 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 refer 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.
LinkedIn is one of the best places where recruiters can source employees 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. Discovering you will be easier 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 more access opportunities such as seminars, conferences, job openings, and internships.
Getting the chance to interact with professional grant writers can 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 operating remotely. This includes all kinds of writers specializing in all types of content.
The grant writer's 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 nonprofit sector, grant writers are sought after in corporate offices, especially in government or 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 have 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 the hours and efforts you exhausted at work have helped bring a change is quite a rewarding experience. This is always a big deciding factor in choosing a career.
Plus, that's not the only reward since grant writers are paid higher on average than several other types of writers and documentation specialists. This is well-deserved 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 to $100 per hour for your services. This varies with your level of experience and the organization you choose to work for.
Additionally, 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 volume 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.
Grant Writer Requirements
If you want to be a successful grant-writer, whether you're self-employed or work under an agency, you need to have a few education requirements as a requisite.
We highly suggest you develop and polish the skills to stand out as a grant writer to recruiters.
1. Written Communication
Being a good writer is an obvious requirement for a job such as grant writing. However, simply knowing how to write exciting 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 as their writing ability.
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 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.
3. Persuasion and Persistence
Putting time and effort into drafting your grant proposal doesn't necessarily mean you will secure the funding your organization requires in the first go.
It would help if you were persuasive without sounding pushy and good at articulating the potential recipient's needs.
Being a persuasive writer while maintaining a formal tone is a vital 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 meeting deadlines, going through extensive paperwork, and coordinating with relevant people.
A grant writer must possess high-level organizational skills to be on top of things.
Since they are handling a lot of data at any one point, they need to arrange it productively and organize it into written form.
This skill also applies to the text of their proposals. Structure 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 letter while making sure all the relevant details appear as needed.
Grantors receive several proposals at a time. If you're writing to a potential funding entity with a missing document or errors in your submission, your application will likely fail.
Following the proposal's guidelines, the writer ensures every piece of documentation requested by the funder appears in full detail.
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 conducting research, and possess an eye for detail, grant–writing may be the perfect career choice.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are answers to some of the most common questions about how to become a grant writer:
How much do grant writers get paid?
According to Glassdoor, grant writers can make up to $78,000 per year.
The grant writing process starts with the identification and research stage, where writers gather information about a particular foundation or government entity to determine eligibility for funding. Next comes the proposal development phase, which involves creating an outline for what will appear in the request for funds and designing the proposal. Then it's a review before final submission.
How long does it take to become a grant writer?
The amount of time it takes to become a grant writer is dependent on the type of work, your personal goals, and your experience.
A person can also learn to become a grant writer by taking required courses and certifications, which could take anywhere from a week to six months, depending on the training given.
What qualifications do you need to be a grant writer?
The qualification you need to become a grant writer includes being creative and innovative, being a good communicator, and having strong organizational skills. You also need to have an understanding of the process for developing proposals.
Are grant writers in demand?
Grant writers are in demand in many companies. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, for example, is the largest private foundation in the world that grants money to various initiatives around the globe through grant writing.
If you are new to grant writing and are looking to break in, we recommend taking our Grant Writing Certification Course, where you will learn the fundamentals of being a grant writer, how to write proposals that win grants, and how to stand out as a grant writing candidate.
Josh is the founder of Technical Writer HQ and Squibler, a writing software. He is considered one of the top product influencers in the world by Product School and one of the top technical writers. He has been writing software tutorials, manuals, handbooks, and white papers for over eight years. You can connect with him on LinkedIn here.