If you love to write and enjoy working for a good cause, then grant writing may be the perfect career for you.
Writing grants allows you to speak to others to educate, persuade, inspire, and pitch an idea.
It gives you the satisfaction that you are working for a good cause that agrees with your values.
There are a lot of freelance writers and copyeditors out there, but only a few of them focus on grant writing.
Not every wordsmith finds the idea of writing grants appealing and interesting.
So, if you’re wondering how to be a freelance grant writer, and how to set your sight on this career path, then read on.
What is a grant?
Before we dive deep into the unknown waters of grant writing, it’s important to understand a few essentials.
For instance, beginners need to know what exactly a grant is. They need to understand who qualifies for a grant and who funds grants.
A grant is a form of monetary aid awarded to an organization or individual to be used for a specific purpose.
Government agencies, private corporations, community organizations, and non-profits award grants on the premise that the money will be used according to what you or the organization you represent proposes.
What does a grant pay for?
A grant is a way an entity allots funds to awardees to accomplish a worthy project or purpose.
A grant does not necessarily include technical or financial assistance, such as a loan or loan guarantee. It is a need-based financial aid that rarely must be repaid if you meet all the obligations stipulated in the proposal.
In the public sector, there are city, county, state, and federal government grants to help accomplish both small and large projects for the greater good.
Who funds grants?
Now, you must wonder where these grants come from. Funding comes from both public and private sources.
Private grants are funded by corporations, non-profit organizations, or individuals. Public funding, on the other hand, comes from a federal, state, or city government, or just any other publicly funded agency.
The vast majority of grants are awarded to organizations, while a small percentage goes to individuals.
What is a grant proposal?
A grant proposal or application is a written request for funding directed towards a particular organization or funding agency. Its sole purpose is to persuade the grant reviewers to provide the support you’re seeking.
A proposal does three things:
- First, the proposal clearly states who you are and why you are qualified for this grant.
- Second, the proposal outlines your step-by-step plan to get the work done.
- Third, the proposal requires a detailed budget plan, including how much it will cost and what the grant-issuing agency can expect from the proposed project.
What does a grant writer do?
The goal of a grant proposal is to convey the major points of your project in a very efficient, succinct, and interesting manner.
Unlike commercial advertising, the target audience for a grant proposal is highly knowledgeable about the area you’re discussing.
To write a successful grant, a full-time or freelance grant writer must be:
- Knowledgeable of the field of study or the target beneficiaries of the grant.
- Capable of creating a story from what you or your organization wants to accomplish that appeals to the reader.
- Involved in an integral part of the development field, more commonly known as fundraising.
Your responsibilities as a grant writer include:
- Researching, drafting, and submitting proposals that help individuals or organizations receive grant funding.
- Find funding opportunities on behalf of the organization and write detailed, organized, and compelling proposals.
The job of a grant writer may or may not be limited to writing proposals. The level of involvement varies based on the project, the grant writer’s level of skill and knowledge, and the type of approach used in seeking the grant.
A grant writer may opt to work full-time for an organization or as a freelancer who works for multiple organizations.
Whether you choose to work full-time or part-time, you must come up with a great idea and then commit that idea to write professionally and technically that conforms to the request for proposal (RFP).
How much does a grant writer make?
The salary of grant writers depends on whether they have an employment contract, or they work part-time as a grant writing consultant.
Other factors that play into their compensation package are their educational background, geographical location, and years of experience.
According to payscale.com, the average salary of a grant writer is $49,720 per year. An entry-level grant writer with less than a year of experience can make around $40 to $60 per hour.
How do you become a freelance grant writer?
If you prefer flexibility and freedom, then grant writing can be a very lucrative career option and a good fit as you choose to work from the comfort of your own home.
But how to be a freelance grant writer?
There are several ways you can break into the world of grant writing. Here are some suggestions on how to get started:
1. Get an undergraduate degree
Before you gain employment as a grant writer, you should have a certain level of education.
As with most job positions, grant writers typically require a diploma in a writing field.
Many organizations may require prospective grant writers to have at least an undergraduate degree that covers the basics of English writing, composition, style, and tone.
If you’re a beginner, a degree will give you a leg up.
2. Consider getting a grant-writing certification
Although no formal certification or education degree is required to get into grant writing, having one can be a great resume builder.
This is especially true if you do not have any experience in the field.
The American Association of Grant Writers offers low-cost training and certification programs to those who seek to polish their grant writing skills to succeed in today’s competitive environment.
3. Learn persuasive and creative writing skills
If you wish to stand out in a world of endless and seemingly ever-increasing competition, possess strong persuasive and creative writing skills.
Successful grant writers know how to sell a project with their prose. The idea is to convince the grantors to believe in your program and how it will impact the community.
The job is to sell your story and to use your power of persuasion to communicate a plan of action. These skills are critical to the success of many non-profit and charitable organizations, which rely on grant funding for continued operations.
4. Connect with organizations that depend on grants
Most entry-level grant writing jobs require a couple of years of experience. One of the best places to start your professional journey in this field is your locality.
Volunteering for community groups or non-profit organizations in your town or city is a great way to earn your stripes as a grant writer.
You can help a local youth center or seniors’ center get grant funding for their day-to-day operations or special projects.
Each job is a new experience that can lead to your next job.
5. Build your network
While much of the job involves writing and researching alone at your desk, working closely with other people who are involved in the development of a grant proposal is an important aspect of the job.
It is a great strategy to work well with others in teams, particularly those who probably have more experience than you. Seeking advice and guidance from veterans in the field is critical throughout your professional life.
Many successful grant proposals are created by colleagues working together.
Grant writers work for a variety of organizations and settings, either as full-time employees or freelance consultants.
While the majority of grant writers are employed by non-profit organizations, many work for schools, colleges, universities, and government agencies, especially those involved in social work and welfare.
If you have a passion for charity work and love to write, then maybe you’re on the right path.
It is a gratifying career, both financially and morally. So, if you put your heart and soul into it, you can be a successful grant writer.