Do you want to build a career helping NGOs and business raise fund through grants? If YES, here are 11 easy steps to become a professional grant proposal writer.
One of the surefire ways to succeed in business is to always think outside the box; to always think of what others are not thinking about. While everybody is thinking of investing in real estate; why not think of how to sell building materials to them to develop their properties instead? Everybody has a pet, so why not start selling pet care products instead? Businesses and communities are seeking for grants, why not become a grant proposal writer?
What is a Grant Proposal Writer?
A grant proposal writer creates research proposals that solicit funding from the government or private organizations for individuals, nonprofits, and businesses. Grant proposal writers work for universities, social service organizations, and health establishments.
Skilled grant writers are one of the most in-demand professionals today. They can work either on a freelance basis or as full- or part-time in-house employees. Due to the increasing demand to find new sources of funding, non-profit agencies, businesses, students are looking for educational grants and other organizations / companies are always looking for help to identify these sources and write compelling grant proposals that will yield positive results.
Grant writing involves writing of proposals to request for such grants. It is a very creative business that requires a lot of intelligence, articulateness, brainstorming and research. A grant proposal writer would not only write grant proposals but also provide support to his clients to increase their chances of getting their grants approved. To become a grant writer, you need the following skills-:
4 Skills You Need to Become a Grant Proposal Writer
If you have a degree in a field like communication or English, and you have solid command of the written word and ability to research extensively, then you have the potential to craft successful grant proposals. And you should consider becoming a grant proposal writer.
- Be an excellent writer-: You need to be a good writer to be able to handle grant proposal writing. You must know how to communicate your client’s intentions clearly, within the proposal. Therefore, the first step to take is to improve your writing skills.
- Be a thorough researcher-: You would need more than just your writing skills to do this; you must also be very good at digging out information. When you are armed with the right information, you would be able to write solid grant proposals.
- Respect deadlines-: You must also be disciplined and strive to meet up with deadlines.
- Willingness to learn-: Another skill you need is the willingness to learn and update your knowledge about trends in the industry.
Does the idea of becoming a grant writer sound alluring to you? Then follow these steps to become a successful grant proposal writer.
11 Steps to Becoming a Professional Grant Proposal Writer
1. Earn a degree-: To become a proposal grant writer, you need excellent communication skills to enable you create compelling proposals that will result in funding for a project.
Any university or college degree program that involves heavy use of writing and persuasive / presentation tactics will give you the abilities you need to become a successful grant proposal writer. Examples of relevant degrees include those in journalism, mass communications, Finance, English, marketing, and public relations. These subjects should be sufficient for you to learn the techniques of being a grant writer.
Although this is not a prerequisite for becoming a grant writer, it would sure help. If getting a degree would be too much of a stress for you, you can consider taking up writing courses or short courses online or offline that would help to improve your writing and communication skills. So, if your dream is to become a grant proposal writer, then enroll for a relevant degree program in a college or university.
2. Attend trainings and Workshops-: Due to the technical nature of grant proposal writing, you would need all the extra knowledge that you can get. Therefore, it is highly advisable for you to attend trainings, seminars and workshops that focus on improving grant proposal writing skills.
While university and college degrees will provide you with solid writing and persuasion skills, they are usually not tailored to specific aspects of writing. So, to build upon the foundation laid during your degree program, you will need to enroll for a certificate course on grant writing. Such programs cover the beginning, intermediate, and advanced aspects of grant proposal writing as well as identification of potential funding sources for a project.
Grant writing certificate courses are designed to help you attain a strong set of skills that you can immediately put into practice. While you can find some in colleges and universities around you, you will find loads of them online. The online classes will enable you to learn all you need to know without having to leave the comfort of your room or bending your personal schedules.
3. Get grant writing experience-: The more years of experience you have, the higher your chances of getting hired. Most employers require a minimum of two years experience in grant proposal writing. In fact, to most employers, your experience as a grant writer counts more than your university or college degree.
To improve your skills and gain experience, seek out volunteer or internship work as a grant writer. You can do this while running your degree program. The more experience you can acquire while in college, the better.
4. Gain industry experience
To give yourself some competitive edge, you need to gain some grant writing experience in the industries you will be writing grants proposals to fund. For example, if you will be specializing in the healthcare industry, you need to understand the workings of the industry through professional or volunteer work.
Similarly, if you will be specializing in the education sector, you need to have higher education industry experience. Being familiar with the industry you will be working in will help you produce successful grant proposals.
5. Create a portfolio-: Before you can get clients to trust you to do a very good job, you have to be able to convince them that you are skilled and experienced. You have to build your portfolio to demonstrate your skills to potential clients. You can offer volunteer services to non-profit organizations as a way to build your portfolio and gather much needed experience.
6. Write your resume-: When you are sure that you have got a strong attractive portfolio, you can now start searching for clients and one important tool that you would need to do that is your resume. Your resume would contain information about yourself, your educational background, samples of proposals you have written and people you have worked for.
7. Decide on your remuneration-: The next step is to decide on how you want to be rewarded for your efforts. You can choose any of these methods:
- Hourly Basis-: This means that you would charge a specific amount based on the hours you would spend working on the project. You can charge as low as $50 or as much as $100 depending on your qualification and experience.
- Project Basis-: This means that you would earn a flat fee for the project and this may be a minimum of $1,000 and a maximum fee of $5,000 again, this is dependent on qualification and experience.
- Commission Basis-: This method of payment poses great risk to the grant writer but high reward if things work out well. This method of payment involves earning a certain percentage on the total grant amount when approved. This may be between 1% and 5%. If the application is successful, the proposal writer gets his commission but if not, well………….
8. Incorporate other services-: You can also expand your streams of income by incorporating other services into your grant proposal writing business to increase your income. Some other services that you can render are-:
- Research-: You can help people looking for grants with information of where and how they can get them.
- Review-: You can help people review their already written proposals to ensure that guidelines have been followed and to also identify and correct any errors and weaknesses.
- Resources-: You can also earn money from selling books and other resources to provide information to people on grant writing.
9. Look for jobs-: Getting grant writing jobs is not a problem as long as you can prove that you have the knowledge and skills. If you are planning to work as a freelancer, set up your portfolio—preferably online with a simple website. A good way to start hunting for jobs is through freelance websites; and start applying for grant proposal writing projects available both online and offline.. Even on Craigslist and LinkedIn, you would find a lot of listing for Grant writers.
But if you are planning to work as a permanent employee for one employer, then you need to create a compelling resume and start applying for open job positions on the internet. Then, you can also write introduction/proposal letters to companies and non-profit organizations introducing your services to them.
10. Continue to improve-: There is always room for improvement in this business. The more you do it, the better you get at it. So you have to practice as much as you can, read up on any information you can lay your hands on and write a lot samples across different industries. Volunteer writing also helps you to develop your skills and build experience, so you should never shy away from volunteer writing because that volunteer job might bring you other solid jobs in the future.
11. Join professional associations of grant writers-: Join any professional association for grant proposal writers in your state or country. To become a successful grant proposal writer, you must be able to sell yourself as an excellent choice for grant proposal writing. Being a member of professional associations will boost your credibility and help you learn more from others in the profession.
How Much Do Professional Grant Writers Make Monthly / Annually?
The annual income of a grant proposal writer can range from $50,000 to $300,000, depending on various factors including the level of expertise, area of operation, clients, commissions (if any) and type of funders sought. There is no accurate way of estimating how much a grant proposal writers can earn.
It depends on whether they are working full-time or on contract basis, whether they are specialist or generalist writers, how many projects they handle per month or year, their geographical location, and many other factors. Freelance grant proposal writers work from the comfort of their homes and charge hourly rates. And they usually earn more than their employed counterparts.