How To Become a Grant Writer: A Complete Guide
There are several opportunities available for a rewarding career as a grant writer. You may help change lives by writing proposals for grants that serve a good cause. Researching what a grant writer does and how to become a grant writer before you make your career decisions may help you decide if grant writing is the right career path for you. In this article, we explore what a grant writer is, explain how to become one, discuss what they do, provide a list of relevant skills you can improve to succeed, and answer some frequently asked questions about the role.
A grant writer assembles and sends out a company or organization’s proposals for grants. Grants are funds awarded or gifted to companies and organizations by private and public foundations so that they can fulfill some philanthropic purpose, conduct research, or develop a new product. Most grant writers work for one organization, however it’s possible to offer this service as a freelancer as well. These writers’ main goal is to apply and qualify for as many grants as possible to increase the organization’s budget.
How to become a grant writer
1. Earn a degree
Before beginning work, it’s important to earn your bachelor’s degree in English, communication, or another relevant field. Degree programs generally take between three and four years of full-time study to complete, depending on your province or territory and course load. You may choose to pursue an advanced degree after your undergraduate studies, which may give you a competitive edge, increase your pay, and further develop your writing skills.
2. Learn how to write grant proposals
Once you complete your bachelor’s degree, refine your grant writing skills. You can do this by enrolling in an online certificate program for grant writing. You may also choose to take a class online that teaches you about grant writing.
Many resources offered online for writing grant proposals are free or inexpensive. These professional development courses and certifications can help you gain skills to use immediately in the grant writing career field. Earning a professional certification may make you a more desirble candidate and increase your chances of getting hired.
3. Gain experience
Most entry-level grant writing jobs require two years of experience. The best way to gain experience is through a volunteer or internship opportunity. Many employers want to hire a grant writer that has experience in the industry that they are writing grants for to ensure that the writer can write industry-specific content. For instance, if you would like to apply for a job that writes grants for a healthcare company, it may be helpful to volunteer or intern in the medical field for grant writing.
You may also try networking with other grant writers. They may know of some open positions that would be suited to your skills. These experienced professionals may provide you with helpful tips to enhance your chances of getting hired.
4. Update your resume
It is important to update your resume before you apply for work in this industry. Your new resume should reflect the skills you gained while completing an internship or volunteer opportunity, and you can use those opportunities as relevant work experience. Occasionally, the organization you volunteered for may offer to hire you on as a full-time employee, depending on your success while volunteering.
When you are applying for jobs, you may also try reviewing the job description and adjust your resume according to what the position requires. Asking for a letter of recommendation from a representative from one organization you wrote proposals for during your volunteer work or internship, or another relevant professional contact. A reference from a respected source may significantly influence the employer’s perception of your resume.
5. Join professional organizations
Build your network by joining professional groups and organizations that support grant writing, encourage you, and provide connections for potential donors. Working in the nonprofit industry may seem daunting, but it’s helpful to join a group to build a professional community. If you choose to pursue freelance grant work, networking can help you find new clients.
10 Essential Grant Writing Skills
1. Understanding Your Target Audience
Funders want their grants to help solve problems they believe are important, so it is vital to show them you understand their priorities when developing proposals/applications for support.
Usually, the better you align your project proposal with their mission, the greater are its chances of acceptance. Funds in the world we live in are not easy to obtain with much competition. Be sure to study the guidelines of submission on their website before writing your proposal.
The next grant writing skill that you want to master as a grant writer is research. Research skills are key to your career as a grant writer, whether you accept it or don’t. They will not only help you when it comes to writing a proposal but will also be your guide for tracking down information and data. Many books on grant writing talk about the power of research and the time it saves.
What do I mean by using the internet? You know those websites that list all of these potential grant providers from which you need to pick just one because they don’t offer much variety? Yeah, those sites can make your life exponentially easier if you’re looking for resources where typically there is none, once again, showcasing how valuable research skills are.
3. Power of Persuasion
This is the skill you need most when it comes to writing a proposal. It’s not always about how strong your argument or research is, but how well you persuade grant providers that you’re the right person for their money.
The first step in this process is being persuasive yourself – convincing others of why they should give up their time and energy on reading through an application because there is something special inside worth investing in. Being able to do this means making your work as clear, concise, and compelling as possible by broadening out any ambiguities before submitting anything for review (a good idea anyway).
4. Take Ample Time for Preparation
To be successful in any type of grant writing, being prepared is necessary. You need to know your content well enough that you are not wasting time on research or editing at a later stage and can focus on what matters most: getting it accepted.
For example, if you’re applying for an arts-related grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), thoroughly researching their guidelines will increase your chances of being awarded compared to someone who doesn’t have as much knowledge about NEA grants.
The second example could be a research grant that you need for your science project. Funding agencies like the NSF and NIH support anything related to human health and disease. Especially if you are a student at a college or university, NSF is where you can hopefully get your grant approved.
5. Pay Attention to Detail
When you are writing and submitting your grant proposals, the most important thing is to pay attention to detail. It includes spelling mistakes, grammar errors, or anything that would show a lack of care in the work you have done.
Even though it might seem like something small when you’re looking at multiple pages of text for one proposal, if there’s even one mistake on any page – like an extra word – it can create confusion with everything else written.
If this happens, then people will be less likely to comply as they’ll think it was poorly done; all of these little things that could’ve easily been fixed matter. If you pay more attention throughout your writing, the result is in your favor.
6. Stay Concise and Clear
Being concise and clear are major aspects of writing grants. It’s important to keep your sentences well-formed, while also being as short as possible. Concise language makes the process not only easier but creates content that appeals more to readers who are looking for something specific at the time.
If you’re trying to show how an idea will work or what it can do, then make sure there’s plenty of detail on those points so that people understand where you’re going with this plan altogether.
7. Don’t Try to be Over Clever
Keep in mind that being clever or witty doesn’t always work. When you try to be over-ambitious with it, the chances of success are lowered, significantly, because people aren’t as likely to take your content seriously and feel like they’re not getting a clear message from what you have written.
Instead, stay on topic and don’t get too cocky about yourself by trying things that just won’t work. Your audience will appreciate it if you keep these ideas out of your content altogether and focus more on staying focused than showing off how well-read you might be.
8. Follow Your Interests
Interests for the particular idea you’re requesting a grant for counts a lot. It is the one factor that really sets people apart in terms of which grant proposal will succeed and which won’t. You’ll always have better success if you’re passionate about your subject; it’s a lot easier to be convincing when you’re genuinely enthusiastic about what you want to do with this grant.
Wrapping Up: What Does a Grant Writer Do?
As a grant writer, you must be able to articulate your organization’s goals, vision, and mission. Grant writers must also have a strong work ethic. A grant writer must be able to juggle multiple projects, maintain a detailed grant tracking calendar, and organize all materials for a grant proposal or grant application submission. Primarily, grant writers follow the entire grant writing process.
Their work involves research, writing, and editing grant proposals or applications for foundations, corporations, and government funders. A grant writer’s work entails submissions of reports to donors and their non-profit’s leadership.
Grant writers help to strategize funding support for their organizations by conducting prospect research and maintaining relationships with funders through relevant updates and communication.
A grant writer is essential. Their efforts sustain and grow non-profits through securing crucial funding. Most importantly, grant writers must demonstrate success. They must know how to craft their proposals and applications in such a way that will properly secure vital funding.
Become a Grant Writer!