What is a grant writer?
A grant writer is a professional writer who helps secure funding from the government and other philanthropic sources.
What does a grant writer do?
Grant writers normally gather documentation and fulfil the necessary requirements of various funding bodies depending on organisational needs.
They usually work with non-profit organisations and businesses on behalf of their agency with the aim of securing funding for projects, services, or goods that the organisation needs.
Grant writers can also work as consultants to various businesses, foundations, corporations, and government agencies to find contract and work opportunities.
What skills should a grant writer have?
Here are some key skills required by a grant writer:
- Excellent written communication and research skills
- Top-shelf interpersonal skills
- Ability to ask the right questions
- Ability to learn quickly about new projects and industries
- Ability to understand the needs and expectations of both granting organisations and clients
- Great organisational skills and details focus
- Ability to write in a persuasive fashion to appeal to the grantor
- Able to find funding organisations with grant opportunities that are well-suited to the client.
Do you need a degree to be a grant writer?
For most jobs, applicants will need a bachelor’s degree as a minimum. They also need to possess strong communication skills to generate effective and compelling grant proposals that result in funding for a project.
Grant writing is one career where a more advanced degree may not be required but will certainly be preferable to candidates who only hold a bachelor’s degree.
Any undergraduate program that involves heavy use of writing and persuasive tactics will also give grant writers the ability to practice this skill. The majority of Grant Writers have a bachelor’s degree in journalism, public relations, marketing, or communications. Besides, English, technical writing and professional writing programs or majors can also provide other useful qualifications to apply grant writer positions.
How do you become a grant writer? What does it take to become a grant writer?
- Bachelor’s degree – Grant writing involves top-notch communications skills so that the writer can create grant applications which convey a compelling case to the grant manager. As such, the most important talent a grant writer can have is the ability to research & write effectively and adapt their writing style to the grant-writing context. Most grant writers have tertiary qualifications, particularly in programs that involve writing and persuasion tactics such as English, Journalism, Communications or Marketing.
- Take courses in grant writing – some universities and education providers offer programs in grant specifically, and are a valuable training opportunity both for BA-qualified writers aspiring to write grants, and for professionals from other fields hoping to move into grant writing. Various courses cover grant writing from the basics to advanced level, as well as how to find grant opportunities for your clients, and how to assess both their eligibility and competitiveness for grant opportunities. Professional development that is focused on grant writing specifically helps grant writers develop a strong set of skills that they can put into practice to improve the quality of their work.
- Gain experience in writing grants – Some employers may expect degrees in a certain field of study, while others only require that candidates have a bachelor’s degree. Most employers would expect a minimum of two years of grant writing experience in job descriptions, even for part-time and temporary positions. That experience might be more important than your specific university qualifications. If you want to gain employment as a grant writer, you can volunteer to prepare grant applications for organisations like non-profits, or complete internships in this field. The more experience you can demonstrate, the more opportunities for employment.
- Gain industry experience – Especially if you’re looking for a grant-writing role in a specific industry, rather than with a grant-writing agency, you may find that employers are looking for grant writers who are familiar with that industry. For example, healthcare organisations will tend to look for grant writers who understand the mechanisms of healthcare, while universities prefer grant writers who are knowledgeable about and experienced in the university sector. Many grants fund projects for non-profit organisations, and those organisations tend to seek grant writers who have experience working in the non-profit sector – not necessarily as a grant writer, but also in other capacities such as communications and marketing. High familiarity with specific industries makes it easier to understand the proposed project and write a winning grant proposal.
- Join a professional association – Becoming a member of a group for grant writers offers opportunities to gain access to more training and job opportunities, as well as to attend conferences and network and learn from others in the field of grant-writing professionals.
How much money can you make as a grant writer?
Compensation for grant writers may vary based upon location, experience level, and assignment length.
The hourly rate for a grant writer can be in the region of $25 to $50 if they are employed internally in an organisation.
More specifically, an entry level grant writer (one to three years of experience) earns an average salary of AU$66,193.
At the other end of the spectrum, a senior level grant writer (eight+ years of experience) earns an average salary of AU$113,890.
The average grant writer salary in Australia is AU$92,143, or an equivalent hourly rate of AU$44. In addition, they earn an average bonus amount of $2,451. Salary estimates are based on salary survey data collected directly from employers and anonymous employees in Australia.
How much do grant writers cost?
If a grant writer is employed as a consultant, they can cost between $100 +GST to $350 + GST per hour.
This typically translates to a grant cost of $5,000 + GST to $15,000 + GST, depending on complexity and time required.
Often, this can be presented to have a lower fee for service and include a success fee. Ie $5,000 upfront and 10% of the grant, or $0 upfront and 20% of the grant amount.
But it depends on the consultant and riskiness of the grant (or applicant).
Do you need a grant writer?
The grant writer will have a better understanding of the company’s situation if the company can provide enough information and resources, so the grant writer will be better able to help you clarify the end goal. Before you hire a grant writer, there is some paperwork you must prepare. The first thing is to determine whether the targeted writer will research and apply for grants, or apply for grants already determined by your non-profit. Then, you might have to prepare the following documents:
- Financials (P&L, budgets, etc.)
- Job descriptions for positions you’re looking to fund with grant money
- Any other planning documents pertinent to the grant
- Other grants written for the organisation in the past (include those whether or not you received funding)
- Contact information for a point person at your organisation
- What you intend to use the grant money for
- What sort of grants you are interested in (foundation, government, etc.)
Post job advertisement
To hire the most appropriate grant writer for your company, you need to post an accurate job description containing your specific requirements. Normally, the job post ad should include:
- Description of your organisation
- Summary of the position
- Job duties and responsibilities
- Desired qualifications
- Additional requirements
Select a suitable grant writer
Once your documents are all finalised, you can post a job description online for hiring and/or search for a grant writer online. To hire a grant writer best suited to work with your company and the entire team, be specific about the experience the grant writer you are seeking needs to have. Does the grant writer have clear communication skills? What is their area of expertise, and is this in your field? What is the current pay rate of the grant writer? Can the grant writer respond within a reasonable amount of time? Once you have read through all the grant writers’ profiles, you can then select based on these areas and pinpoint a suitable applicant as your grant writer.
What is the process to writing a grant?
Grant writing is time-consuming. There are several factors to be considered, as follows:
- Agree on the problem – For a proposal to receive funding, the grant writer must develop a compelling argument that your proposal will fill a need, be eligible and competitive impact. To develop successful writing, it is important to involve all of the stakeholders and develop a clear, concise description of the problem or situation and to try not to use jargon. Since different stakeholders might have different levels of participation, it’s important to gather all stakeholders and consider all of their interests appropriately, and build buy-in.
- Understand the grant – Understand the grant properly! Grant writers need to understand exactly what the grantor needs and whether the client is going to be competitive in providing that. Prepare the necessary documents in support of the grant application and develop a comprehensive summary of the project with a basic outline; fill it in with specific details as you go ahead with the grant writing process. Before you submit, always review your work and get your client to review it in order to identify and fix any issues.
- Write your proposal – Once you have a written description of your program, needs, outcomes, and activities, you can go on to use this as a template for numerous grant applications. Re-use this template by tailoring each application to each grant and its funder, using their preferred style and format. Carefully read through all directions, and don’t hesitate to ask about any that seem unclear. Pay attention to details such as application criteria, page limit, or even font size. For instance, if there is a ten-page limit, stick with ten pages and do not go beyond that, otherwise, you can come across as unprofessional. Most grant programs have deadlines that will be specific and non-negotiable, and will not take grant applications even 10 minutes late. Make sure to have plenty of time for delays, and aim for an early submission – between technical issues with the grant portal and unexpected delays in sourcing documentation, all sorts of issues can delay completion of your grant application, and you don’t want that happening at the last minute.
How long does it take to write a grant?
The answer might be that it will take as much time as you have. It will depend on what else you should do during this period. Of course, grant writing can be finished within several days, however, it might not be your best work. Based on personal suggestions and online resources, it would be good with at least six weeks. In this way, the grant writer can pay attention to details, write, receive feedback, and revise, and thus move towards having an excellent grant proposal.
Why can a grant writer write better than me?
Since grant writers normally have professional writing qualifications and excellent research and communication skills, they have a more experienced, professional approach to doing extensive searching of relevant, available grants and noting the differences in the types of a project financed by various funding bodies to increase the likelihood of funding success. Furthermore, a professional grant writer with their ability to understand the needs of both the agency in need of funding and the organisation that is offering the grant money may help the party to identify which awards are a good fit and which aren’t. The successful proposal will closely align with a foundation’s strategic goals and have a higher chance of getting funded.
What does a grant writer know that my team doesn’t?
A lot of organisations applying for grants find those rejections tough to take. But rejection will help you to learn a great deal. Therefore, experienced grant writers may have learned more things from practice and therefore understand more situations than your team do.
Is Grant writing hard?
Whether grant writing is hard or not might depend on different individuals. Below are several challenges involved in grant writing:
- Knowledge about grant writing – Some grant writers who work exclusively for non-profit organisations, while others work as freelancers or with agencies and accept writing tasks from many interested grant applicants across various sectors. They don’t need to be an expert at all sectors, but rather to be able to learn quickly and apply their grant writing knowledge to produce a high-quality application that can help projects get funded, and improve the condition of the beneficiaries. Having the flexibility to understand new sectors and projects, and apply grant writing skills and knowledge to create a polished and winning results is a challenge in itself.
- Working relationship with the client – It’s not uncommon for the relationship between a grant writer and their client to become difficult, as is the case with the service provider and client relationship sometimes. Setting and managing expectations is key, as is being proactive and professional at all times. Miscommunication doesn’t just make it difficult to complete grants and therefore projects, but can also effect your working relationship with that client and your reputation.
- Government application – There’s many kinds of grant proposals, and government applications are considered the most difficult; understandably, considering the accountability involved in dealing in the best fashion with government funds. Funders will be very precise with compliance, so a grant writer must take due care to read the rules carefully and apply these into the grant application. Additionally, there may be processes and expectations that are more difficult in a government application than a standard grant application.
- Technology – Because of both the advances of technology and the popularity of the Internet, funders generally require online applications, and may expect careful formatting or even graphic design. Older grant writers and non-profit organisations used to printing and binding large graphic-free documents and submitting them in person may struggle with the online application process.
- Boring and tiring – Grant writing is a form of business communications which demands a lot of time. Writers can spend a long time compiling the information required and turning into into a compelling case for funding. This requires patience and dedication; after all, not all grant applications win, so a second-rate application won’t cut it. Some writers find grant writing easy and exciting, while others find it boring and tiring.
However, if you enjoy writing and keep practising your skills, you will find grant writing is challenging but it is not necessarily extremely hard to conquer the challenges.
Are grant writers in demand?
The outlook of the grant writer is particularly good, especially in today’s difficult economy. Since a grant writer is a professional writer who helps secure funding from the Government and other philanthropic sources, non-profit organizations or small start-ups rely heavily on private grant dollars to support their programs and services. Grants from foundations, corporations, and organizations are crucial in keeping their programs running, and thus grant writers are needed for their expertise in securing these funds.
Furthermore, grant writing is a field of professional writing where you can make a steady and lucrative living as a writer. Grant writers are always in high demand and can be hired by any number of organisations, from global corporations and NGOs to universities, construction firms, charitable organisations, government agencies, and freelance contractors.