A grant writer is a professional that specializes in writing proposals for grants. Various grant-seeking organizations, as well as other entities like educational institutions and government agencies, might hire a grant writer. Their primary responsibility is to find available grants from different funding sources for the organizations that hire them.
For many nonprofits, grants are critical to surviving and carrying out their mission. So the role of a grant writer is a crucial one.
In this article, we will explore what a grant writer does, their roles and responsibilities, and job description.
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What Does a Grant Writer Do?
The tasks of a grant writer include drafting or coordinating a grant application. The application requests funds from an organization such as individual philanthropists or philanthropic programs, private foundations, or government agencies with available funding.
Responsibilities can vary depending on the nature of an applicant’s needs. Some require grant writers to write the grant documents and others require them to edit drafts for grants prepared by another grant writer.
In addition, they might be responsible for assisting with the administration of grants that have already been awarded (e.g., reporting on activity levels).
The job description also includes:
- Marketing activities such as designing campaigns or strategies to convince potential donors
- Communicating information about an organization’s purpose through printed materials, local community events, and social media channels like Facebook and Twitter
- Developing organizational policies
- Engaging in efforts to raise money including making cold calls or using email solicitations
- Researching, data analysis, analyzing financial trends and philanthropic behavior
- Investigating emerging fields for new opportunities to raise money where their expertise could benefit organizations that don’t yet know these new areas exist.
What is Grant Writing?
Grant writing is the act of researching and drafting a grant proposal to request funding from a grant-awarding organization. An experienced grant writer knows exactly which documents to prepare and how to write according to the grant guide for each application they submit.
What is a Grant Proposal?
The purpose of a grant proposal is to create a persuasive case for the grant awarding organization to award funding for a specific purpose.
The grant proposal should contain all the information that is necessary for it to be successful. It must persuade the granting organization, which means being able to write:
- A clear and concise statement about what is to be funded
- Articulate why the particular project is worthy of funding.
Most grant applications follow a general process. A grant writer will research the funding agency to determine whether they are eligible for any of their programs. They then create and submit the appropriate application materials — the grant proposal.
The process of writing grants usually includes:
- A cover letter
- A proposal overview
- Application forms (including budget)
- Budget justification form
- Proposed business plan
Grant Writing Skills:
Good grant writing skills include:
- A professional demeanor
- Expertise in grant writing, research, and budgeting
- Understanding of the organization’s purpose
- A clear vision of the project to be funded
- Ability to work under pressure with minimal supervision
Grant Writing Roles and Responsibilities
A professional grant writer has a variety of roles depending on their level of experience and the type of grant applications they deal with.
Some examples of grant writer positions are listed below. Here they are in order from entry-level to senior-level.
- Draft a grant proposal for the organization’s consideration (typically in response to an RFP)
- Assist in the drafting process of grant applications submitted by other members of their team.
Research and analyze grant application opportunities, identify areas of interest for the organization.
- Coordinate with funders (e.g., board members of foundations) by researching their funding priorities
- Reviewing past grants awarded in relevant subject matters, and identifying potential recipients for new grant proposals submitted by the organization.
- Acting as the lead grant writer on a project. Responsible for every step of a proposal from original concept through final draft submission (typically in response to an RFP).
- Coordinating all activities related to submitting the grant proposal.
- Managing team members who specialize in specific skills such as technical writing or graphic design within the organization.
How to Become a Grant Writer
A professional grant writer should be self-driven and able to function independently.
They must possess strong writing skills. Grant proposals generally include dense technical language. They also contain qualitative information about the organization’s goals and sustainability plan for the project to be funded.
A bachelor’s degree is recommended for those wishing to enter this field of work. Degrees in related disciplines may also help candidates stand out from their competition.
Many nonprofits hire a grant writer to secure grant money for a project or outreach program. And large projects usually hire a team of people focused on grants and fundraising.
Some nonprofits hire grant writers as internal staff members while some hire grant consultants.
If you’re interested in becoming a grant writer, then you want to take these steps:
- Get a bachelor’s degree in marketing, communications, or related field.
- Become proficient with online research about grants and grant databases. For example, the Foundation Center Database of Grantmakers includes information on grants from more than 54,000 foundations.
- Attend relevant seminars or webinars by professional organizations such as The Association for Fundraising Professionals (AFP).
- Volunteer at nonprofit organizations to gain experience before you start looking for a job as a grant writer.
- Keep up with changes in nonprofit trends. Research relevant blogs, social media channels, and newsletters.
What does it take to be a good grant writer?
If you want to become a good grant writer, it’s helpful to have previous experience in the nonprofit sector. Many grant writers work with nonprofits.
For example, many grant writers start as volunteers or interns at a nonprofit organization before working their way up to an entry-level position.
In the world of securing funds and money to support a nonprofit program, it also pays to have a strong business background along.
You should be able to review financial data and have excellent communication and analytical skills. These can help persuade business clients to support the program you represent.
It also helps if you are familiar with various accounting software packages that allow for tracking of grants such as Microsoft Excel or Access. Money management skills are essential in some positions.
Finally, most organizations prefer grant writers who can commit long-term rather than those looking for just short-term projects.
Nonprofits need people who can translate their mission into words that capture the attention of funders of all types.
If you can write persuasively and convince funders, then many nonprofits will want to hire your services.
What qualifications do grant writers need?
They must have a degree in public administration or non-profit management from an accredited college/university with coursework and experience in the field.
Plus, they should be proficient in using Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Grant writing is not for everybody — think about whether this profession would suit your personality before pursuing a career path as a grant writer.
How much do grant writers get paid?
Grant writers make an average annual salary of $81,415 for their services.
Does the government pay grant writers more than nonprofit grant writers?
In some cases, they do. In others, it depends on what the grant-maker is looking for in a grant writer. Also, how much funding their organization has available to support staff salaries.
Nonprofit grant writers are paid an average annual salary of $74,910. Federal government grant writers make an average annual salary of $87,920.
The type of grants you deal with also influences how much money you can earn.
Is grant writing hard?
Grant writing is known to be one of the most difficult and time-consuming professions.
Grant writers must have strong written skills, excellent research abilities, and extensive knowledge of grant protocols and policies. Good organizational skills are also desirable.
What are the top work-related challenges faced by grant writers?
The most difficult aspect of the role is managing time and juggling multiple business projects.
Another challenge a grant writer may face is writing proposals to meet specific complex guidelines. These tasks might require some research beforehand into various foundations, to match requirements.
To achieve success, grant writers must be able to handle pressure and tight deadlines.
What can be done to make a grant writer’s work easier?
Grant writing work can be made easier by ensuring that the grant writer has a clear vision of what is expected.
This can be achieved by creating a clear outline of the grant project and, assigning relevant tasks to a team.
Grant writing is easier with careful research before creating proposals. It also helps to research funding policies and read articles on current trends to find grant or funding sources worth pursuing.
Where is the best state to work in as a grant writer?
The best state in the USA for grant writers is California.
Grant writing in California is a multi-billion dollar industry, employing more than 400 grant writers within the state.
The demand for grant writing services in California is high. And grants are available throughout all areas of specialization with organizations such as The University of California, Berkeley Foundation, or Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.
Being a grant writer is challenging and satisfying work. There are many opportunities for grant writers in the United States. It is important to search for states with high demand for grant writing services that pay well.
Many professional grant writers cite California as the best state to live and work in. California has a higher demand for grant writing services than any other state in the US, making it an excellent choice of destination.
Do you think being a grant writer is a good career choice?