Do you want to get into the world of writing grants and funding projects? Although the job sounds mysterious, entry level grant writing jobs are abundant—if you know what to look for and how to secure the job.
Grant writing is the process of preparing and submitting a written proposal or application to a government agency, foundation, corporation, or other funding source in order to request financial support for a specific project, program, or initiative.
Since the key to getting funding for a project is telling a good story (and most people aren’t great writers), if you’re looking to make money writing this could be a great niche to break into! And since the primary goal of grant writing is to secure funding that can be used to address a particular need or advance a specific cause, you could potentially make a difference to the causes you care about!
Let’s take a look at everything you need to know to get started in entry level grant writing
What Do Grant Writers Do?
Grant writers research, draft, and submit proposals that help both organizations and individuals receive grant funding.
On the surface level, you’re basically spinning a narrative about the organization seeking funding and highlighting the reasons they need and deserve the money. You’re not lying or making it up—this isn’t fiction writing—but you are creating a story arc to take readers on a journey and make an emotional connection.
A good proposal should be both motivational and factual. It should paint a clear and compelling picture of the organization and the difference the money would make both for them and their clients or community. That’s why great grant writers are also good writers!
But beyond the surface, and depending on the services you’re interested in offering or learning, grant writers might also:
- Research grants that fit with the organization’s mission
- Manage application deadlines
- Gather documentation that is required for the grant
- Document a grant’s impact upon receipt
- Build relationships with possible donors
How Do Grant Writers Make Money?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not collect data about this occupation so the average rate of a grant-writer is hard to pin down. Often, grant writing is looped in with another position within a nonprofit or organization so you will be paid a salary as an employee who also writes and prepares grants. If you want to get into the nonprofit world, grant writing is a great skill to have.
If you’re a consultant or freelancer, you may be paid through hourly rates, project fees, or monthly retainers. Hourly rates vary from $20 to $100 based on your skill and experience. You can also charge per project.
If you have a successful history of finding and pursuing appropriate grants, you will be able to charge more. If you’re familiar with the documentation that is often needed to complete a grant and are comfortable locating and compiling that information, you can charge more.
The moral of the story? The more experience you have, the more you can get paid. If you’re an entry-level grant writer, you might need to charge a lower rate at first, but as you build your skills and experience, you’ll have the opportunity to make more.
Warning: You should get paid for the work you do whether the grant is awarded or not so be wary of offers to pay a percentage of the grant or a commission-based fee.
What Skills Do I Need As An Entry Level Grant Writer?
When you’re just starting out as an entry level grant writer, your biggest asset is going to be the ability to communicate ideas and craft a compelling narrative. You won’t have years of experience under your belt (and you won’t need it for entry-level jobs) but you will need to prove you have some or all of the following skills:
- Written and verbal communication
- Attention to detail
- Research skills
- Ability to meet deadlines
- Creativity and problem-solving
- Basic tech skills
- Know where to look for grants
How To Get Entry Level Grant Writing Jobs
To become a better grant writer you just have to get out there and get started. Yes, there are some certifications you can get and some courses you could take, but the best experience is going to be hands-on. So, just start applying to jobs. Here are some ways you can break into grant writing if you don’t have a lot of experience.
You definitely should not make a habit out of working for free but if you’re just starting out, doing volunteer work can be a great way to get a few projects under your belt, get experience, and begin to build a portfolio. You might volunteer at a nonprofit so you can observe their process for finding and landing grants, or you might volunteer to create a grant proposal free of charge.
It’s important to begin to build a network of individuals and organizations who might eventually need your skills. Even if you’re just starting out, if someone remembers meeting you at an event, they are more likely to think of you when a need arises.
Attend events, browse LinkedIn, schedule coffee dates—you’re going to have to start putting yourself out there if you’d like to build a career.
Join an Association
There are grant writing associations that may charge a fee to join but can help you build your skills, network, and find jobs. You’ll also get a community of other writers around you that can help support you if you have questions.
Build a Portfolio
As you volunteer or start to get small projects, add them to a portfolio that you can show potential clients as you build your career. A website or online portfolio is a great way to prove you have real world experience even if you haven’t been at it very long. You can also include writing samples in your portfolio even if they aren’t grant writing related to show your writing and creativity skills.
You never know what you can do until you try. A lot of people never apply to jobs they might be perfect for because they think they aren’t qualified. Applying to jobs helps you start to hone your message and get clarity on what sets you apart from the competition. When you’re just starting out, you have to start somewhere so…start!
Where to Find Entry Level Grant Writing Jobs
If you want to build a career as a freelance grant writer, you can use freelance writing sites to search for jobs that meet your skill levels. Sites like FlexJobs and ZipRecruiters might also have freelance jobs available. For these sites you might want to use terms like “freelance grant writer” or “grant proposal writer.”
If you’re looking to land a full-time grant writing job, traditional job sites like Indeed and LinkedIn will probably have what you’re looking for. Here, you can search, “grant writing,” or “proposal writing” but you might have to search by company and just look at nonprofits for jobs that include grant writing in the job description.
Networking events are also great places to find work and you’ll be able to connect with potential clients face to face. If you discover someone that might need your service, don’t push your pitch right then and there but schedule a coffee or lunch so you can learn more about what they are looking for and how you can help each other.
Grant writing is a great way for writers to put their storytelling and communication skills to use for a good cause. If you’re persistent, cultivate the right skills, and get really good at it, you can build a promising career as a grant writer.
Let us know if you found this helpful for landing entry level grant writing jobs!