It doesn’t seem to matter what the economy is doing, grant writing stays big business. All sorts of organizations from a tiny, local theater group to foundations that circle the globe need to raise money from grants.
What is Grant Writing?
First, you need to understand, that in its simplest form, a grant is a gift of money or other property or services given to fulfill a specific purpose. Not-for profit organizations generally receive grants by writing a proposal which asks for the money and spells out how the organization will use it.
Many organizations hire freelancers to write all or part of these grant proposals.
Is Grant Writing for You?
As with any type of specialized writing, grant writing isn’t for everyone. Consider the following:
- Are you good at working as part of a committee? Most grant writers work directly with others in the organization. This usually involves meetings that can be tedious. The committee will also scrutinize your writing in sometime infuriating detail.
- Can you synthesize complex ideas from multiple sources? Grant writing requires you take chunks of disparate information and boil it down to fit the grantor’s proposal requirements.
- Are you good at long-term projects that are often spiked with seeming emergencies? The actual process of writing a grant proposal can take months. Conversely, almost every proposal has strict deadlines – not just for the final submission, but benchmarks along the way. It’s often difficult to get the information you need until the last minute.
- Are you good, really good, at reading, understanding and following written instructions? You’ll often find the instructions the potential grantor sends are a bit obscure. Good grant writers are truly detail people – with a creative flair.
Learn the Grant Writing Process
If this sounds like you, the next step is to do some research. You’ll want to study the grant writing process. There are some great resources here at: 5 Tips for Writing Grants
Market Yourself as a Grant Writer
The next step is marketing yourself. Get started with these approaches:
- Call the non-profits in your immediate area. Tell them you’re interested in learning how to write grants and ask them who you should talk with. This can lead to anything from a brush-off to the organization’s grant writer, or, if you’re very lucky, an assignment. Most of the time you will learn something worth knowing. Your goal is to get some experience under your belt, even if it’s only a little or as a volunteer.
- If you’re passionate about a cause, that’s a good place to start looking for grant writing work. Just call or email and see what happens.
- Do a search on Google or other search engine using terms like grant writing and grant writing jobs. Poke around. You’ll see everything from books on the subjects to agencies offering to represent you in one way or another.
- Keep an eye on the employment opportunities in your local newspaper. Most nonprofits are required to advertise any positions, including grant writing opportunities. Often, these jobs will go to someone the organization already knows, but responding to the ad can give you a networking opportunity.
Once you get a credit or two, you’ll find marketing yourself much easier. There’s lots of work out there. The trick, as always, is finding it.
Write well and often,
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