Grant writers create proposals to secure funding for organizations.
Organizations need money to do vital work; certain entities offer funding packages called grants. Each grant has a complex application process with unique questions that must be addressed in a certain way. For this reason, grant writing can be thought of as highly individualized marketing. Different funders have different goals and want to know where their money is going; to satisfy this curiosity, grant writers may develop relationships with funders, creating detailed budgets and plans. The goal is to demonstrate both merit and need, showing prospective funders that this organization will put their money to good use.
Not all grants are alike. Government grants in particular are notoriously difficult to write for, requiring long hours of research and incredibly precise wording. A children's advocacy group or community health and safety initiative will have different needs than a city opera or new startup; an effective grant writer will search out opportunities that are right for their client and tailor their work to fit those needs.
Work as a grant writer may include...
- Researching grants to determine fit and eligibility
- Meeting with prospective funders on behalf of an organization
- Tailoring proposals to specific guidelines
- Representing an organization's goals and intentions to a donor entity
- Creating a budget proposal for prospective funds
Many grant writers work for nonprofits and arts organizations, where their time is spent developing funding strategies specific to their sector and focus. Since these organizations need capital to make a difference, they apply for a lot of grants per cycle and may benefit from having a dedicated staff member. Many grant writers work independently on a freelance basis, often specializing in a particular sector or type of grant. Larger organizations and companies may hire grant writers on a contract basis as they become eligible for certain grants. One of the perks of the job is that grant writers tend to be awarded a percentage of each grant they win for their work, which can round out to an enticing salary for those who are successful.
A background in persuasive writing can be useful for writing grants; this is a skill aspiring grant writers can begin to develop as early as high school, with argumentative essays or activities like debate. Grant writers almost always need a Bachelor's degree in order to qualify for jobs; there is no perfect college major that will find a graduate immediate work in grant writing, but many students focus on English or marketing. For those looking to work in a particular area, such as public health or the arts, it may be more beneficial to study that field and focus on writing relevant pieces. Students themselves are often eligible for grants, and applying to these can make the process clearer, serving as a learning experience regardless of outcome. Courses on grant writing may be available at some institutions, and graduates may seek out workshops or certification to build up their credentials.
If you're a dedicated writer with a persuasive flair, think about a career in grant writing - yours could be the words that make a difference.
The American Grant Writer's Association works to enhance the professional standards and ethical practices of grantseekers and grant managers through education, certification, networking, and personal growth.
The Grant Professionals Association is an international membership association that helps grant professionals continually improve their professional knowledge and skills.
The National Grant Management Association connects professionals in the grants management field to improve and unify the grants delivery process.