There is no standardized path to becoming a grant writer. Individuals come to the position from all kinds of backgrounds. But, some methods of breaking into the field are more effective than others. If you’re interested in becoming a grant writer, check out the following tips and advice.
To be a grant writer, you will need a college degree. In most cases, a four-year bachelor’s degree will suffice. Many candidates find that degrees in communication, journalism, English, marketing or pre-law are best suited to the profession. Essentially, you will want to find a degree program that emphasizes technical writing and analyzing dense texts. Grant writers are not typically creative writers; they are writing proposals to government agencies to request funding. It is an entirely different skill set than that used by authors of poetry and fiction. Grant writers should be able to pen concise and informative prose. They should be able to distill important information in a manner that is easily understandable, yet still professional in tone and voice.
While degrees that specialize in grant writing are practically non-existent, workshops are offered. Consider enrolling in a course offered by a reputable firm to learn the ins and outs of grant writing. During these workshops, you will get the opportunity to write sample grants, thus building a body of work to present to potential employers.
In addition to workshops, the American Grant Writers’ Association (AGWA) offers a certification in grant writing. They offer a one-day review course and exam, which must be passed to earn the certification. Attendance at the review course is not necessary, but is highly recommended. This program is open only to members of the AGWA who are 21 years of age or older. You can learn more about the courses and credentials offered through the AGWA by visiting their website.
While courses in grant writing can definitely help you build a theoretical portfolio, employers will want to see what kind of results your grant writing endeavors have produced. One way to accumulate experience is to volunteer your time and skill for a cause that you are passionate about. You can also attempt to peddle yourself as a freelancer prior to seeking permanent employment as a grant writer. Check sites like elance.com for opportunities, and be sure to keep other online networks, like LinkedIn, up-to-date with your current availability and contact information. Connect with anyone you know who may work in the field and could help you find a way to get your foot in the door.
Employers want someone who knows the ins and outs of the industry in which their organization is situated. Research the industry, so you really know your stuff. Grant writing may seem simple, but it’s very important to stay on-topic and have valid, hard data to back up your claims and requests.
You’ll also need to research specific donors. The message should be tailored directly to them. Corporate grants, for example, are more PR oriented, while government grants are much more technical.
Essentially, you are selling the organization that has hired you. It is very time consuming and difficult to compile all the necessary information if you haven’t immersed yourself in the organization and its mission.
Writers earn their bread by their reputation. Referrals and references are the number one way freelance writers get new work and clients. While talent cannot be taught, there are some attributes you can hone to improve your chances of making it in the writing world.
The projects grant writers work on may require lots of work and take a considerable about of time to complete. These writers must possess the determination necessary to see projects through to completion.
Grant writers are trying to convince others to fund their endeavors. They must be able to persuade others to feel that their cause is important and warrants funding. And, they must be able to accomplish this without relying on an appeal to emotion. Grant writing is an academic exercise.
This quality goes hand-in-hand with persuasion. Grant writers must be able to understand how others will perceive and react to their writing in order to connect with the audience.
The work grant writers do requires lots of research and data compilation. For this reason, organizational skills are a must for grant writers.
Because grant writers focus on more technical writing, they must have an excellent grasp of the fundamentals of writing. They should be well-versed in syntax, grammar, spelling and the rules of punctuation and formatting.