Is grant writing a good career?
Yes, Grant writing is a good career that can be lucrative and rewarding. Grant writing is one of the fastest-growing professions in America. If you get trained and specialize, you can make a good career out of grant writing.
Grant writing has many benefits for those who are interested in the long-term, but it also comes with some downsides that you should know about before jumping in headfirst. That’s why I’m here to talk to you about what grant writers do, what they don’t do, how much they make, where they work, and more!
I worked as a grant writer for 10 years, so I know the profession intimately. I will walk you through all the ins and outs of grant writing.
There are 11 things you should absolutely know. Let’s dig in!
What Is Grant Writing?
Grant writing is a form of technical writing that specializes in the creation and revision of proposals. The proposal is a formal, written document that outlines the goals of an organization and convinces donors to support their cause.
The proposals are often made in response to requests for funding from foundations or government agencies, as well as corporations. In order to be eligible for funding, grant writers must create compelling proposals that meet guidelines set by the granting agency.
Grant writers usually work with people who have a background in the field, such as social workers or teachers. These individuals may not know how to write grant proposals and will hire an expert in technical writing (aka, a grant writer).
The person hired for this job must also be knowledgeable about the organization they are representing because it is important that their proposal accurately portrays what the agency can and can not do.
What Do Grant Writers Do?
What is a grant writer job description?
Grant writers write proposals for organizations, which they then submit to potential funders such as foundations or granting institutions. They may also be asked by donor agencies to update a proposal during its lifetime or provide assistance with grant management activities.
They might be called on to write an annual report for a nonprofit, or prepare a proposal that shows how the organization can increase its impact.
Grant writers may be asked to write a public relations proposal, or another piece of content that aims to increase awareness and funding for their organization.
They could also work as consultants by providing grant writing services on an as-needed basis.
For example, they might help with the application process when nonprofits need assistance applying for grants (or otherwise find themselves in financial straits). Some organizations offer grant writers full-time positions where they are responsible for developing proposals from scratch based on requests from partners and clients.
What Don’t Grant Writers Do?
There are also things that grant writers don’t do.
Grant writers usually don’t do any of the following:
- Write grants for themselves or their own, personal business.
- Take money from funders to publicize their services or to get more funding, which are called “grant-seeking” activities. This can sometimes result in criminal charges.
- Grant writers also don’t usually work for any agencies with which they might have a conflict of interest. For example, if you have your own consulting company where you offer services related to what’s being funded by a potential funder, then it might not be appropriate for you to write a grant proposal for an agency, who then subcontracted consulting services from your other agency.
- Grant writers do not lie, mislead, or promise things in their grant proposals that they know the organization can no deliver.
How Much Do Grant Writers Make?
Grant writing can be a lucrative career. According to EriEri.com, the median annual salary for a grant writer is $69,379 a year (or $33 an hour). However, the wage can vary depending on the location and type of institution.
For example, if you work as an independent contractor then your earnings may be drastically different than someone who works in higher education or nonprofit organization.
The median salary of someone in higher education or nonprofit organization is around $55,000 per year.
There certainly is great potential for a high salary, especially if you specialize in an industry and work for yourself. It takes time to build the necessary skills, but grant writing can be a rewarding career with many opportunities for success and growth.
Do Grant Writers Make Good Money?
Grant writers who specialize in an industry, experienced grant writers, or grant writers who write multiple grants within a single year can make a significant amount of money.
For example, a grant writer who has been working for five years can make between $80-100K. Those that are independent contractors can earn up to $160k (or more) annually. Over the last five years, there has been a 13% increase in salary potential.
Grant writers with the right skills can make a very good living.
Grant writers need the following skills:
- Strong writing skills
- Good research and analytical abilities
- Creative thinking
- Strong organizational skills
- Attention to detail, including spelling and grammar.
- Project management
Are Grant Writers in Demand?
Yes, organizations are always asking for grant writers. Every nonprofit and government organization needs a way to raise money, so they are constantly looking for the best in grantsmanship—meaning that there is always demand.
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, technical writing (including grant writing) is expected to grow 7% in the next decade. This is faster than average across all professions.
Given the available job statistics, there will be an increased demand for grant writers by nonprofits and government organizations, and the growth of salary will outpace the industry. All of this is good news to aspiring grant writers!
Is Grant Writing Hard?
Yes, grant writing is hard. Grant writers coordinate massive amounts of information. They need to know how to organize and present data. They must be able to manage budgets, timelines, stakeholders, risks, and other complex pieces of information.
This is not an easy job because it requires a lot of knowledge and patience. It’s also hard work. Grant writers are often dedicated people who put in long hours to coordinate these projects, and they sometimes do it without being able to see the tangible results of their labor.
Grant writers are often tasked with communicating their ideas concisely because of proposal requirements. They do not have the freedom to write lengthy reports that detail every aspect of the proposed project. They need to know how to articulate their projects while also engaging listeners through storytelling and powerful communication skills.
This means being able to clearly and accurately speak about complicated subjects like poverty alleviation or the environment without sounding vague, pedantic, or overly complicated.
Grant writers are not only knowledgeable in writing grants but also in many other areas of carrying out a project.
They must demonstrate expertise at analyzing data across organizational sectors such as budget, implementation, and evaluation. There is always plenty of information to comb through for each section of the proposal.
Grant writers must also make sure that all of the information is consistent throughout the entire proposal, so it takes deep focus and concentration on details. The instructions are not always clear or consistent. Sometimes crucial information is buried in supplemental reading suggested in the proposal.
Grant writing is not an easy profession. It takes hard work and dedication to be successful in this field, but the rewards are worth it for those who persevere.
Check out this video for some additional insider information about grant writing:
Is Grant Writing Stressful?
Grant writing can be extremely stressful. The high pressure to meet deadlines and produce a quality product can produce anxiety. In order for someone to succeed at grant writing, they need time management skills so that they can effectively manage their schedule with other job tasks—on top of meeting rigerous deadlines.
It’s not uncommon for a proposal writing period to last only a month or two.
Grant writing can be stressful when you have to meet deadlines and work on tight budgets. There are also many times where grant writers are assigned projects that they do not find interesting. They might not think their effort will actually help an organization make progress with its goals. This can cause them to feel unmotivated.
You can make grant writing less stressful by:
- Seeking adequate training and certification.
- Finding an experienced mentor to train you.
- Reading the grant proposal several times to ensure that the organization is eligible and able to meet the requirements.
- Creating a “swipe file” of previous successful grant proposals that you can use as templates and examples.
- Giving yourself as much time as possible to finish each part of the proposal.
- Starting a proposal by outlining the budget and organization chart.
- Developing systems for communicating proposal requirements, timelines, and expectations.
You can also make grant writing less stressful by taking care of your physical and mental health. You can do this is by staying healthy with a balanced diet, exercise, meditation, fresh air, and getting enough sleep every night.
Where Do Grant Writers Work?
Grant writers can work almost anywhere.
Their work environment can range from a crowded office to a cabin in the mountains. Still, they are often on their own a lot of the time and must be self-motivated individuals who enjoy solitude. A big part of what makes grant writing so rewarding is that you’re always doing something different every day (or with every project).
As a grant writer, you may work with nonprofits. They also work for corporations, small businesses, and government agencies. I personally know of people who are working in the following fields: city planning, environmental engineering, court administration records management, and more.
Grant writers can also work for themselves. They are independent contractors, so they can work anywhere with internet access and a computer. They can even work in other countries if they possess the right skills, qualifications, cultural understanding, and language requirements.
Grant writers need to be flexible, resourceful, and willing to learn new things because of their diverse working environments.
What Are the Certifications To Be a Grant Writer?
There are no official certifications for grant writing.
Most grant writers possess a bachelor’s degree, and the highest level of education for most grant writers is a master’s degree. Additional specialization in an industry is also helpful.
However, there are many professional organizations that offer training courses on how to write grants. Some examples of these include the National Council On Grant Writing (NCGW) and The Foundation Center’s Proposal Development Workshop series, which teaches proposal-writing skills in both online and classroom settings.
One of the most popular certifications is from The Foundation Center. You can take a free course on their website, which includes 18 modules and covers topics such as grant basics, proposal research techniques and development, proposal writing tips and best practices for non-profit organizations.
There are a few other options.
A few other options are:
- American Grant Writer’s Association
- National Council on Donor Relations
- The Association of Fundraising Professionals
Joining and participating in these associations can boost your career and help you find grant writing jobs and contracts.
How Do You Get Trained To Be a Grant Writer?
How do you get trained to be a grant writer?
You can get trained for grant writing from a certificate program. This is usually an online course (called grant writer certification) that takes up to six months and costs up to $1000. Another option is to find short courses in your area through local colleges or universities, community centers, continuing education programs, etc.
These are often shorter than the grant writer certification program (usually only one semester) and usually do not cost as much.
In addition, there are plenty of practice grant writing courses available online for free. These may or may not be accredited, but they can still teach you the basics about how to write grants successfully by answering some common questions like, “What is grant writing?” or “Is grant writing a good career?”
The best way to learn grant writing is to find an experienced mentor. It is crucial to find someone who has the experience, time, and knowledge you need. Your mentor can help guide your learning process and answer any questions about grant writing.
A mentor is someone who has successfully written gran proposals that got funded in your industry (your specialization).
Besides grant writing, any training on how to improve your writing also helps. I’ve written a summary of my favorite writing books, courses, and tools.
My Conclusion: Is Grant Writing a Good Career?
As a former professional grant writer with a decade of experience, I believe grant writing is a very good career. You can make a great salary, work for yourself or a company, and work virtually anywhere in the world.
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