by Lisa Jo Rudy
Deb’s Note: This is the first in a series of in depth posts about grantwriting. In the upcoming weeks we’ll be featuring series on grantwriting, technical writing, taxes and more. If you have a series to suggest, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Grant writers write proposals to funding agencies requesting cash or in-kind donations. The donations support projects and/or institutions that do something that the donating institution wants to see done.
Grants are available for individuals, non-profits, and even for-profits. Most of the time, though, grants go to non-profit institutions that do some kind of work that’s considered to be good or worthwhile for the larger community.
Classic grant recipients are social service agencies ($100,000 to create a GED program for pregnant teens), arts agencies ($50,000 to pay for installation of a new exhibit of local artists’ works), science and academic institutions ($1 million for a new nanoscience building), and health organizations and institutions ($250,000 for a lab to investigate promising cancer treatments).
Grant writing is a specific niche, and it’s not for everyone. Here are the basic qualities of a good grant writer:
* You’re really, really deadline oriented
* You’re very good at following detailed instructions
* You’re good at managing people who aren’t quite as good about
deadlines and details as you are
* You’re able to get passionate about a cause
* You can think creatively within a structure
* You’re able to think and write sequentially and logically
* You’re willing and able to fit your words into a predetermined
format and length
If this fits your personality, you might want to consider building a niche in grant writing.
People who can write really persuasive grant proposals are in great demand. What’s more, grant writers are often involved in the creative process of project or program development, and – from time to time – may even be written into the grant as a member of the project team.
Most importantly, of course, a professional grant writer working for a professional client is paid very well. Bottom line: an experienced grant writer who can take on the development and writing of a federal grant (just the 15-page narrative, not the budget or supporting materials) can make anywhere from $5,000 to $30,000 for the project.
Up next: why “commission-based grant writing is a bad idea”
Lisa Jo Rudy is a veteran grant writer with more than $25 million in funded federal, foundation, corporate and individual grants to her credit. She taught grant writing and fundraising writing at the University of Pennslyvania for more than ten years. Her largest successful grant proposal to date won $4,000,000 from one of the world’s largest foundations.