What is a Grant Writer?

what is a grant writer

What is a grant writer? A grant writer, as the name suggests, is a professional who specializes in composing proposals that secure grants. Their responsibilities don’t just end at writing; they encompass extensive research to identify suitable grants.

These experts are adept at crafting high-level letters of intent and diligently scour multiple public and private sources to uncover potential funding opportunities.

What Does a Grant Writer Do?

A grant writer plays an indispensable role in sourcing funds for organizations and projects. The essence of their job lies in understanding the objectives, needs, and goals of the organization they’re representing.

They translate this understanding into a coherent, structured proposal that highlights the significance and feasibility of the intended project or initiative. Their work involves research, collaboration with subject matter experts, and adhering to strict grant application guidelines.

Grant Writing Job Market

The government doesn’t collect labor statistics on grant writing. Although some of the anecdotal information they’ve put together says most current grant writers are self-employed. They charge hourly rates somewhere between $20 to $100 dollars for grant writer services.

Other information puts the job growth to 2030 at 9%. The median salary for this year for all grant writers was $49,554.

Popular industries for grant writers include government agencies and nonprofit organizations. Other more specific places like community health centers need consistent funding too.

Here’s an outline from the bureau of labor statistics.

what is a grant writer

Benefits of a Career Writing Grant Proposals

A grant writing career can be rewarding. Maybe you’re looking at working with research grants, and opportunities for nonprofits or small businesses. Becoming a grant writer has some great advantages.

Here’s a list of some of the things that you’ll enjoy about working at grant writing and coming up with grant proposals.

  • You’ll Be in Demand – Many different industries are looking for grant writers. You might also be able to work for a nonprofit organization. Another specific industry that hires to write grants is government organizations. Snd technical writing, which includes grant writing, is expected to grow.
  • You Can Be Your Own Boss – Grant writers generally set their own schedules. As sole proprietors, they can pick the clients they work with and set their own prices.
  • You’ll Be Learning Something Everyday – You might be drafting proposals for a nonprofit organization, or you might be working at getting grants for small businesses. Regardless of the approach, you’ll be writing grants and learning something new every day. It’s a challenging and rewarding career. Grant writers interact with a wide range of people and organizations as well as other grant writers to make it more interesting.
  • You’ll Make a Difference – Securing grants can help an organization’s mission. Grant writers help individuals and businesses get the cash they need for a cause.
  •  You’ll Make a Good Income – The average base salary for a grant writer in America is $56,251 a year.  This of course depends on the organization you work for. If you freelance, you can make a different hourly rate and more money.

How to Become a Grant Writer

Do you want to write grants for a living? This is a good career path if you want to be self-employed. Along with strong organizational skills, you need to follow these steps to get started as a grant writer.

1.  Get The Right Education 

Employed grant writers usually have degrees in communications or English. An undergraduate degree in journalism helps. This type of education can give you a competitive edge. And help you to develop your writing skills.

Getting an education from community colleges helps too. A vocational diploma can help you land a first job doing volunteer work for public foundations.

2. Hone Your Grant Writing Skills

Writing a good grant proposal is a skill. Enroll in an online grant writing course. Best to look for one that will supply you with a grant writing certification. Here’s an overview of some of the options you have online.

Starting out with creative writing skills builds a foundation to get crucial funding for clients.

You might be able to skip getting a higher education by taking this route to become a grant writer. Either way, you’ll need to follow grant guidelines carefully.

what is a grant writer

3. Put A Portfolio Together

Establishing trust is a vital part of a grant writer’s career trajectory. A comprehensive portfolio acts as a testament to a grant writer’s skills, experience, and success rate.

Including success stories, acknowledgment letters, and quantifiable results can make the portfolio more compelling.

For budding grant writers lacking in professional experience, volunteering not only provides an opportunity to build a portfolio but also demonstrates proactiveness, an understanding of the non-profit ecosystem, and a genuine commitment to community development.

4. Pick an Employment Model 

Writers in this industry can work on a full-time, part-time, contract, or on freelance basis. You can also be self-employed. If you decide to work at grant funding for yourself, you’ll need to decide how much to charge.

Grant Writer Employment Models

To better understand the diverse career opportunities in grant writing, here’s a comparison table of different employment models available for grant writers.

Employment ModelDescriptionProsCons
Full-TimeWorking for a single organization or company on a regular basis.Steady income; Benefits providedLimited flexibility; Tied to one client
Part-TimeWorking for an organization for a limited number of hours weekly.More flexibility; Possible benefitsLess income; Possibly multiple clients
ContractWorking for a specific project or a set period.Defined tenure; Specific projectsNo long-term job security
FreelanceSelf-employed and working for multiple clients.High flexibility; Diverse projectsInconsistent income; No benefits
Self-EmployedOwning a business providing grant writing services.Total control; Business benefitsHigh responsibility; Business overheads

what is a grant writer

5. Advertise 

The digital age offers numerous platforms for grant writers to showcase their expertise and attract potential clients.

Beyond the traditional website, leveraging platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and even Instagram can help in networking with non-profit organizations, philanthropists, and other stakeholders.

By sharing insights, success stories, and testimonials, grant writers can underscore their expertise and stand out in a competitive market. Additionally, hosting webinars, workshops, or speaking at conferences can further establish their authority in the domain.

6. Fostering Strong Relationships

The role of a grant writer isn’t limited to penning down compelling proposals. They often act as the bridge between organizations and potential funders.

This requires impeccable interpersonal skills to foster positive relationships and facilitate effective communication.

Cultivating these relationships can lead to referrals, repeat business, and a reputation for being not just a writer, but a strategic partner in an organization’s growth and success.

what is a grant writer

Small Business Opportunities for Grant Writers

Now you know how to become a grant writer. You’ve spent time researching grants and learning how to write a grant proposal. The next step is to work for someone or start your own business.

If you are an experienced grant writer, you can start a business. Here’s how.

Define the market. Maybe grant money for nonprofits? Maybe you’ll be securing funding for SMBs? Then you need to research the sources for funding. Then grant writers need to market their organization. See #5 above.

Expanding Your Career as a Grant Writer

Grant writing is a nuanced field that blends art with science, requiring a unique set of skills, dedication, and an understanding of the funding landscape.

Whether you’re drafting proposals for non-profits, educational institutions, or small businesses, the role of a grant writer is both challenging and rewarding. Here’s how you can further your career and enhance your effectiveness as a grant writer.

Deepening Industry Knowledge

  • Stay Informed: Continuously update your knowledge about the grant-making organizations, including foundations, government entities, and corporations. Understanding their priorities, funding cycles, and application processes can give you an edge in preparing successful proposals.
  • Specialize: Consider specializing in a specific sector such as healthcare, education, or environmental conservation. Specialization can lead to deeper understanding and expertise, making your services more valuable.

Enhancing Proposal Quality

  • Storytelling: Beyond just presenting facts and figures, effective grant proposals tell a compelling story. They connect the objectives of the project with the mission of the grant-making organization and illustrate the impact of the proposed work. Improve your storytelling skills to create more engaging and persuasive proposals.
  • Data Analysis: Grant writers often need to include data and research in their proposals to support their claims. Developing skills in data analysis and interpretation can help you present a stronger case for your proposals.

Building a Network

  • Collaborate: Building relationships with professionals in your field or sector can lead to collaborative grant writing opportunities. Collaboration can also provide new insights and approaches to grant writing.
  • Join Professional Associations: Becoming a member of professional associations for grant writers or the non-profit sector can provide networking opportunities, professional development resources, and access to job postings.

Leveraging Technology

  • Grant Management Software: Familiarize yourself with grant management and writing software. These tools can help streamline the research process, manage deadlines, and organize application materials, making you more efficient and effective.
  • Online Presence: Enhance your online presence by sharing your successes and insights on professional platforms like LinkedIn. This can help you establish yourself as an expert in the field and attract new clients or employment opportunities.

Continuous Learning and Development

  • Professional Development: Attend workshops, webinars, and conferences related to grant writing and the sectors you specialize in. Continuous learning can help you stay updated on best practices and emerging trends.
  • Certifications: Consider obtaining professional certifications in grant writing. These can validate your skills and knowledge, making you more attractive to employers and clients.

Conclusion: The Path Ahead for Grant Writers

As the demand for skilled grant writers continues to grow, there are ample opportunities for professionals in this field to advance their careers.

By deepening your industry knowledge, enhancing your proposal writing skills, building a strong professional network, leveraging technology, and committing to continuous learning and development, you can increase your value and effectiveness as a grant writer.

Whether you choose to work as a freelancer, for a non-profit, or in the public sector, your contributions can lead to significant social impact, funding for vital projects, and the achievement of organizational goals.

Embrace the challenges and rewards that come with being a grant writer, and continue to make a difference in the world through your words and dedication.

What Skills Are Needed for Grant Writing?

The grant writing process requires certain talents. Like the following.

  • You need to understand how data entry can make a difference to a grant application. Both historical and future numbers should be blended in the application process.
  • A typical day will make the most of your writing skills. You’ll need to use business language and emotional words and phrases.
  • This is project-based work. That means you need to be both process and detail orientated.

How Much Money Do Grant Writers Make?

You’ll be in line to make a decent amount using your grant writing services. The average base salary according to Indeed is $56,297 dollars per year.

At the top end, successful grant writers working for places like Friends of the Children make $88,478 yearly. Other organizations like BRAZOSPORT COLLEGE pay $69,021 per year.

You can make more by honing your skills to attract more potential donors. And add to your profits by working for more than one organization as a freelancer.


Image: Envato Elements

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Rob Starr Rob Starr is a staff writer for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 7 years. He is a graduate of Ryerson University in Toronto with a Bachelor of Journalism degree. His print credentials include employment with various Toronto area newspapers and three works of fiction: The Apple Lady (2004), Creekwater (2006) and Sophistry By Degrees (2008) published by Stonegarden Press In California.