How to Become a Grant Writer: The Ultimate Guide
Are you interested in becoming a grant writer? Or learning more about resources for grant writers? We’re going to demystify grant writing and provide you with some quick tips on how to become a grant writer.
The information and resources provided will help you if you have little or no experience, or if you’re a grant writer looking for some fresh insights. We’ll provide links to various trainings and resources that you can start using today.
Read on if you want information on grant writing for beginners, grant writer salaries, and how to find grant writing jobs.
What is a Grant Writer and What Do They Do?
A grant writer assists organizations and businesses in obtaining funds from foundations, corporations, and possibly government entities to support various programs and projects.
The types of programs and projects for which you are seeking funding may include environmental education, community development, low-income housing, and more.
Recipients of grant funds are typically non-profit or government organizations, but this can vary. When you become a grant writer, you may work full time for a specific organization or may freelance and work with multiple organizations that provide a variety of services and serve a variety of groups.
Depending on the specific position and/or the needs of the organization, a grant writer may also be responsible for grant research which includes finding potential funders to support specific projects, programs, or services.
A grant writer must become familiar with funding opportunities in specific locations or that fund specific types of work.
Funding opportunities may be provided by private foundations, government entities (city, county, state, federal), or corporations such as Wells Fargo or Walmart. Each of these types of funders will have specific priorities they focus on and may only fund work in certain geographic locations.
It is important to note that funders will also change their priorities based on their business model or what they feel are critical needs. In order to match projects and programs with funding sources, you will need to stay up to date on these types of changes.
You also must become familiar with the work of the organization or organizations you are working for to match the needs with the funding opportunities. A grant writer will likely have to work with program staff and others at the organization to assist in creating all the necessary content for a grant application.
One important part of grant writing is storytelling, so you must know enough about the organization as well as the project or program to tell a compelling story.
As a grant writer, you will be responsible for putting together the entire grant application which includes budget documents, details about the organization you are seeking funding for, necessary attachments, and any other specific requirements.
You must ensure that you meet all of the funder’s requirements and tell a compelling story of why the organization deserves the funds.
You may also be responsible for assisting with follow-up reports and the data management associated with these reports.
As a grant writer, you will need to make sure you communicate the expectations of the funder to the appropriate staff at the organization so that they do not miss reporting requirements and other follow-up steps.
Why is Writing Grants Rewarding?
If you are interested in how to become a grant writer, you are likely interested in making a difference either in your community or on a broader scale. Grant writing can be very rewarding because you are helping fund organizations that provide key services such as homeless shelters, free medical care, assistance to single mothers, and more.
You may find a position with a particular organization that you are passionate about and help them make a difference through your work. A career as a grant writer may provide you with opportunities to meet and network with many different organizations that provide a variety of services.
If you prefer flexibility, then grant writing may also be a good fit as you can choose to work from home, allowing you more freedom and flexibility than in a traditional work environment.
Once you build a reputation as a grant writer and gain enough experience, you may be able to set the amount of work that you do based on how much income you are looking for.
Are Grant Writers Paid Well? Average Grant Writer Salaries
According to data gathered by Indeed, the average annual salary for a grant writer in the United States in 2021 is $52,929 with salaries ranging from $39,500 to $68,992. You can check out salaries from various organizations by following the aforementioned link.
You may be able to make more as a freelance grant writer because you can work for multiple organizations on multiple types of grants and your salary can increase as you gain experience and additional certifications.
Some organizations or businesses may wish to pay you on a commission basis, but it is advisable to work out an hourly rate based on your experience. For those of you reading this with no experience, keep in mind that you may have to work your way up to the higher-paying positions through training and experience.
If you are working based on an hourly rate, you will likely start around $20 an hour and may be able to work up to as much as $150 per hour with experience.
How to Become a Grant Writer: 7 Steps to Follow
1. Have or Get a Bachelor’s Degree.
Grant writing jobs will require a minimum of a Bachelor’s Degree and it will help if it is in an applicable field such as journalism, English, creative writing, or communications.
A degree in nonprofit management may also be beneficial. Some jobs may allow you to substitute work experience for a degree, but if you are looking for how to become a grant writer with little to no experience, a degree will give you a leg up.
2. Gain experience.
Gaining experience will likely help boost your resume and increase your salary. You can start by offering pro bono services to nonprofits that you have a relationship with, or seek out internships in grant writing.
The more experience you gain, the more marketable you become. Gaining general experience with nonprofit organizations or others who receive grants may also be beneficial.
3. Obtain a grant writing certification.
This is not required but can be a resume builder if you do not yet have experience. The American Association of Grant Writers has options for low-cost training as well as a grant writing certificate program.
There are also free resources through groups such as NonprofitReady and Instrumentl. See below for additional details on courses and resources. These courses will help you understand grant writing for beginners and may help you connect with potential employers as well.
4. Update your resume.
Your resume must reflect your experience, training, etc. The grant writing field can be competitive so it may be worth investing in professional resume assistance.
When you are working to become a grant writer, make sure your resume highlights the appropriate skills and experiences that potential employers are looking for such as research, writing, multitasking, budgeting, etc.
5. Network with various funders.
This can take place at various conferences through professional associations. You will be more valuable if you already have a repertoire with potential funders. As you research and attend training sessions related to grant writing, you may also be introduced to funders.
The American Grant Writers Association may be a valuable resource for certifications and making connections. Joining the Grant Professionals Association could be a good way to learn more about grant writing for beginners.
6. Find grant writing jobs.
Each job will help you gain experience that can lead to your next job. You may find that working with one organization is a good starting point and then you can become a freelancer after you gain more experience. You may want to start by seeking out nonprofits or other organizations in your community.
You can volunteer at events they are hosting, join a board of directors, or reach out to contacts you may already have. If there is a community college or university in your community or nearby, they may be a good resource as they often provide trainings for nonprofits and small businesses.
7. Continue learning.
Grant requirements, grant opportunities, grant databases, etc. are constantly changing so it is important to continue training and learning. Instrumentl partners with various consultants and organizations to regularly offer educational webinars on everything from where to find grants to how to win grants.
FAQ on Becoming a Grant Writer
What Degree Do You Need to Become a Grant Writer?
To become a grant writer, you need to have a Bachelor’s Degree. While it is not required that the degree is in a specific subject, degrees such as English, journalism, marketing, and communication, nonprofit management, or creative writing will help you stand out as a grant writer.
As you begin searching for grant writing jobs you will see which types of degrees many of them request. Job sites such as Indeed can be a good resource for research into grant writing jobs as can the various grant writing associations.
What Skills Help You Become a Good Grant Writer?
While some skills may be specific to the job you are applying to, certain skills will be helpful across the board. General computer skills, research skills, writing, the ability to multitask, and good data management are all skills that can assist you as a grant writer.
You will need to be detail-oriented to make sure you fully understand and adhere to all requirements. Skills with software such as Microsoft Excel may also be important as many things may be tracked or submitted via spreadsheets.
Good communication skills are important because you will need to connect with contacts at the organization and with potential funders as well as being able to tell compelling stories.
What Are Good Grant Writing Classes or Resources to Check Out?
While you may be able to get started as a grant writer with little to no experience, completing courses and even certifications can help you advance in this career. Grant writing certification courses are available through many different groups and organizations such as:
The American Grant Writers’ Association offers several grants-related courses and the Certified Grant Writer® Series which will look great on your resume.
Instrumentl can be a great resource for grant prospecting, tracking, and management. We also provide free grant workshops with various partners that teach grant writing skills and can help connect you to funders. You can check out our past classes here.
What Professional Associations are Valuable to Grant Writers?
While it is not required to be a part of these associations, they provide training opportunities and can help you network with other grant writers and funders.
These associations may also help you find your first grant writing jobs and continue to build experience. Memberships can also help boost your resume if you are looking to become a grant writer with no experience.
How Do You Find Grant Writing Jobs?
Being part of grant writing associations and attending grant writing conferences can be a good way to discover grant writing opportunities. You can also search for these jobs on regular job sites such as Indeed, Glassdoor, and others.
If you are looking for work in a particular geographic location, you can check for local or regional nonprofit membership groups that may share job postings.
You may also reach out to nonprofits within your community and ask to volunteer your services. Sometimes getting a job is about relationships and you may need to build these through some pro bono work.
If there are particular organizations that you are interested in working with, you can check their website for job postings and you can even check with local employment agencies.
Wrapping Things Up: The Ultimate Guide on How to Become a Grant Writer
In summary, there are many resources available if you are interested in how to become a grant writer. When you are starting as a grant writer, it may be helpful to familiarize yourself with a few of these resources such as the American Grant Writers Association, Grant Professionals Association, and Instrumentl.
If you want to make a career out of grant writing, there are a few steps that you can take to increase your rate of success. Most grant writing jobs will require a bachelor’s degree, preferably in a field related to writing or communication. Obtaining a grant writing certificate can also increase your odds of success.
When you do begin searching for jobs, you may have to choose if you want a full-time position with one organization or if you want to freelance and work for multiple organizations. If you are starting as a grant writer with no experience, it may be helpful to take on pro bono or volunteer work to gain experience.
We hope that this article provided some tips and tricks on how to become a grant writer with no experience and maybe even some pointers for those of you with a bit of experience as well.