Grant writers research, draft and present proposals with the goal of helping nonprofit organizations (and in some cases, individuals) receive funding. Public and private institutions designate billions of dollars for grant money each year; those funds are meant for specific causes. It is the job of the grant writer to match available money with projects or causes that need support. Grant writing is a very rewarding career path, as writers get to regularly help causes that may be important to them. Animals, education, underprivileged children, violence prevention and the environment are just a few of the causes a grant writer can expect to work for.
New grant writers would do well to seek employment in large cities, as this is where they will find the most diverse opportunities. Once a grant writer gets his or her foot in the door, the best advice is to focus on enhancing their craft via focused grant writing classes and workshops. These are oftentimes available through community colleges and professional associations. One of the most popular classes is the Grantsmanship Training Program offered through the Grantsmanship Training Center.
As with many professions, on-the-job training is especially rich and will aid in career advancement. Years of practice will help grant writers develop the sharp skills needed for successful proposal writing.
Grant writers may work for charities or nonprofit organizations, or they may be self-employed contractors who accept projects from multiple organizations. According to a 2015 survey by PayScale.com, the median income for grant writers in the United States is approximately $43,000 per year. The same survey reported that job satisfaction for grant writers is typically high. Grant writers who are self-employed generally charge a flat fee per project, but some establish an hourly rate for their services. The Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests that self-employed grant writers charge fees ranging between hundreds and thousands per project, with hourly rates varying greatly between $20 and $100, depending on a grant writer’s experience.
A student interested in pursuing a career as a grant writer should strive to earn a bachelor’s degree to be qualified for entry-level grant writing jobs. One advantage of studying to be a grant writer is that it usually doesn’t matter what field of study a student chooses. Of course, classwork in English, writing and marketing is helpful and will give a student a leg up as a grant writer.
Grant writers are disciplined professionals who are able to manage multiple projects, observing closely each grant’s parameters and deadlines. A good grant writer will possess the following skills:
• Research and writing: These skills are absolutely critical. Grant writers are like sleuths in that they use research to find opportunities and match them to their clients. Strong writing that concisely and convincingly expresses ideas within a proposal will help a project stand out and hopefully win funding.
• Attention to detail: Grant writers should endeavor to be as accurate and detail-oriented as possible in their work. In this same vein, the ability to multitask and organize writing logically is important.
• Interpersonal skills: Writers often work closely with clients, institutions and co-workers to collect information and then convey it in a meaningful and accurate way. Strong interpersonal skills will help a grant writer be successful.