If you love to write, are highly organized, and enjoy working for a good cause, grant writing may be the perfect career for you. With more than 1.5 million nonprofits and thousands more organizations depending on grants in the United States alone, grant writers are in high demand.
What Do Grant Writers Do?
Grant writers are an integral part of the development or fundraising field. The term “grant writer” is a bit of a misnomer since grant writers actually write proposals to get grants. Writing is just one part of the their job. They also help develop programs, research potential funders, and draft reports and letters to donors. Grant professionals come from a variety of backgrounds, including social workers, English majors and scientists. The most successful share the following skills and traits:
- Persuasive and Creative Writing Skills – ability to “sell” a program or project
- Ability to Work Well With Others – able to collaborate with other staff on program/project development
- Grace Under Pressure – ability to meet tight deadlines and manage multiple projects
- An Eye for Detail – ability to decipher complicated instructions and grant guidelines
Where Do Grant Writers Work?
Grant writers work for a variety of different organizations, either as employees or freelance consultants. Nonprofit organizations employ the majority of grant writers. These include social service organizations, museums and arts organizations, environmental and animal welfare organizations, and more. Professionals in this field also work for schools, colleges and universities, and government agencies.
What is a Typical Day Like?
A typical day on the job varies dramatically depending on the size of the organization and the scope of the position. Grant writers who work at larger organizations are usually “specialists” while those working at smaller organizations are “generalists.” The majority of grant writing jobs fall into the latter category, where you will not only be responsible for drafting proposals but will also be charged with researching donors and managing grants that have been awarded. The typical duties of a generalist are:
- Finding the Money – conducting research on potential donors
- Developing the Programs – working with staff to develop fundable programs
- Writing the Grant Proposal – developing a detailed, written plan of action
- Managing the Grant – ensuring that program/project is being conducted as promised
- Other Duties as Assigned – maintaining grant calendar and writing acknowledgments
How Much Money Do They Make?
The salary range for a Grant/Proposal Writer in the United States in 2009 was $41,590-$68,497, with a median salary of $51,967 (Salary.com). Those who work as independent contractors usually make a higher hourly wage than those who work full-time for nonprofits or government agencies. This rate varies dramatically, ranging from $40 to $100 an hour depending on level of experience.
How Do I Get Trained for the Field?
There is no specific college degree in grant writing. The vast majority of professional grant writers have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree from a college or university with a major in English, the social sciences, liberal arts, science, or social work. Majors with coursework that emphasizes writing and research provide a good foundation for the career. While books and Internet resources on grant writing are available, if you are serious about the field, classes and workshops conducted by experienced grant professionals will provide a more comprehensive overview of writing grants. Many include hands-on exercises including working on actual grant proposals. This training is crucial to landing internships and jobs in the field.
Are Grant Writers in Demand?
The job outlook is very good, especially in today’s difficult economy. Now more than ever, nonprofit organizations rely heavily on private grant dollars to support their programs and services. Grants from foundations, corporations, and organizations are crucial to keep programs running, and grant writers are needed for their expertise in securing these funds.
Grant writing is a field of professional writing where you can make a steady and lucrative living as a writer. Job opportunities are available with nonprofit organizations, schools, colleges and universities, government agencies, or as a freelance contractor.