How To Start Freelance Grant Writing

Freelance grant writing

Freelance grant writing is a growing career path, within the non-profit and small business world. If the idea of grant writing has been floating around in your head, then this is the article for you.

Learn what freelance grant writing is, what a grant writer does, the different types of grant writing work, and how to find grant writing jobs!

What is freelance grant writing?

Grant writing is the procedure of applying for financial assistance from a large organization such as a government initiative, a trust, or a fundraising foundation.

Unlike other writing jobs such as content writing or technical writing, grant writing has a specific goal and outcome of securing money for a business or organization.

Because many organizations are not for profit, they often rely on grants and grant writing companies to help them receive financial support.

The advantage of being a freelance grant writer is you can offer your grant writing services to several organizations and non-profits rather than working for just one.

What does a grant writer do?

The role of a grant writer has several layers to it. What does a grant writer do, really? Although it involves mainly writing, there are other aspects of the job to consider.

Conduct research

Grant writers spend a good amount of time researching different available grants and reviewing their grant guidelines. Once a grant writer finds the grant they want to apply for they’ll start the writing process.

Write or apply for a grant

Freelance grant writing requires that you write a proposal following the grant guidelines. To write a successful proposal you need to be persuasive, and concise. You will also need to provide additional materials that will help convince funders to donate their money.

Thus having a good understanding of the organization you are writing for can help with grant proposals.

Keep track of submitted applications and other finances

Another aspect of freelance grant writing is checking on the status of previously submitted applications. Along with constantly staying on the lookout for other grant opportunities.

Why pursue freelance grant writing?

Now that the question of what does a grant writer do has been answered, you may be wondering what the benefits are of pursuing this career?

To support causes you believe in

First of all, if you are passionate about a particular cause, you can do grant writing for an organization that supports that cause.

Be it causes for women, children, animals, the environment, fighting diseases, and more, there are so many causes you could support as a grant writer.

The ability to decide what you want to charge

Second, you can set your own pay rate. Some freelance grant writers will charge hundreds of dollars for projects. According to an article on Instrumentl.com, new grant writers can charge $20 per hour.

Once you’ve helped secure some grants, you can increase that rate to $30 to $75 per hour. When you become more experienced you can charge $150 per hour or  $8,000 to $10,000 per grant.

To have flexibility with your time

Thirdly, you have the flexibility to work your own hours. Make your schedule work for you based on your life. This is on of the perks of freelance work.

How does one get into freelance grant writing?

Many people who are freelance grant writers have some experience within the non-profit sector. This experience paired with their writing skills allows them to support organizations when it comes to fundraising. Yet these are only two aspects of freelance grant writing.

Requirements for freelance grant writing

Although freelance grant writing can be done with little to no experience, there are some required skills that will increase your chances of success.

Freelance grant writing graphic

Bachelor's degree

Most jobs will require at least a bachelor’s degree but it usually doesn’t matter the field. Of course, a degree in English, marketing, or other related fields is helpful.

Good writing skills

Having strong writing skills applies to having an understanding of the different elements of a grant application. It’s important to be able to write about topics such as objectives and methodologies. The key is to be able to tell an impactful story while including crucial data and information.

Grant writing certification

If you’re a strong storyteller but aren’t used to weaving data points into your story, you might want to consider getting a grant writing certification.

Remember you’re not writing for general audiences, you are writing to win money. Thus taking a grant writing course can level up your skills and make you a better writer.

There are many benefits to taking grant writing courses. These benefits include learning how to write a compelling cover letter, along with how to write specific goals and objectives. Courses can also teach you how to better research grant opportunities and an array of other skills.

Grant writing courses are offered for beginner and experienced writers so no matter your level you can always improve your skills.

Organizational skills

Freelance grant writing means you may be writing for multiple clients. This means you need to stay organized in order to manage your workload.

You will also need to keep track of the different grant proposals you write, monitor the advancements of any proposals, and occasionally provide more information for funders.

Strong research skills

Grant writing research skills not only involve typing in words to a search engine, but it involves studying websites extensively to make sure you choose the correct grant.

Researching grants means paying attention to details and guidelines. This way you don’t waste time applying for the wrong grant.

Good understanding of grammar

Having good grammar is essential for every writer, and more so for grant writers. If there are grammatical errors in your grant proposal it can cause your submission to not have a chance for lack of professionalism.

What types of freelance grant writing exist?

Once you understand the necessary skills, the next step is deciding on what type of grant writing you want to do. Here are some options to start with.

Grant writing for nonprofits

Grant writing for nonprofits can be a rewarding field. After all your writing is supporting organizations in making the world a better place. Here are some of the common areas of writing within the non-profit sector.

Healthcare

Working within healthcare usually means writing medical grants. With this job, it’s important to balance writing information that shows you are knowledgeable about the field but is simple enough to understand. Simply put, use some medical jargon when writing but not too much.

Human & civil rights

Grant writers in the field of human and civil rights cover topics such as equality, poverty, social injustice, and more. Writers can also typically write for organizations that serve members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Community development

This type of writing focuses on helping organizations such as United Way get funding for community projects such as building a new library or park, creating a food bank, or other projects that help increase community efforts.

Arts and Culture

If you love theater and the arts, grant writing for nonprofits in the area of arts and culture can help organizations keep the arts alive. Freelance grant writing in this field can mean working for organizations with art programs that have a positive impact on society.

Types of grants writing graphic

Homelessness

There are many services that are working to end homelessness and help individuals and families secure permanent or long-term housing.

Grants for homeless organizations are often used to not only support housing needs but provide additional services for people in need such as counseling and emergency services.

For more insight into the grant writing process, you can review current grant options on the website of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Animal welfare

If you’re an animal lover, grant writing for animal welfare can be your area of expertise. These types of grants usually focus on animal care from helping endangered species to spaying and neutering pets.

If you want more insight, you can check out the Association for Animal Welfare Advancement which has a list of grants.

Child welfare

Child welfare grants go to help foster care and adoption services. Programs and organizations that work to support the safety and care of families and children, often seek additional funding to support their work.

The website childwelfare.gov provides resources and information for grants and other areas of the field.

Education

Granting writing in the educational field means helping schools from preschool up to college win extra money for technology, books, and more.

You can work with local schools in your area or schools out of state.

To get an idea of the type of educational grants offered you can start with the U.S. Department of Education.

Environmental

If you’re concerned about the environment, and love recycling and sustainable living, environmental grant writing can be for you.

Check out the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to see the different possibilities.

Grant writing for businesses

Although a majority of grant writing is for non-profits, there are opportunities to write for businesses.

Startup businesses are a growing industry that relies on grants. If you are a business-minded person and want to help a new business grow, you can offer your services.

The Small Business Administration is a smart place to learn more about small business grants.

How do you go about offering freelance grant writing services?

Now that you have some idea of which area of freelance grant writing you’d like to focus on, it’s time to start offering your services. You can freelance on your own or work for grant writing companies, but you can start with these ideas:

Build a network

The first thing to do is start building your network. Think about people you already know that are working within the non-profit sector or working within an area you are passionate about.

If you don't know anyone, you can start by searching for and making a list of different organizations in your area. However, you don't have to limit your search to organizations nearby, you can search for organizations across the country.

Next, you’ll want to set up introduction meetings or informational interviews to learn more about particular organizations and their funding needs.

Try joining an association

Grant writing associations are a great way to not only network but they’re a chance to interact with other working professionals.

These associations often offer career advancement opportunities such as seminars, internships, and job openings.

Create a portfolio

Having a portfolio can help you secure clients because it helps you to showcase the quality of your work. Yet if you're just starting out, chances are your portfolio is limited. To fill your portfolio with something other than your resume try creating mock grant proposals.

If you want more hands-on experience try volunteering your grant writing services to an organization you’d like to work with in the future.

The advantage to this is if you help them secure a grant by volunteering, that same organization is more than likely to offer you more paid work in the future.

Writing the perfect pitch/proposal

Once you’ve gotten some experience under your belt, you can start offering your services for compensation.

You'll want to start by writing a compelling pitch to the organizations you'd like to work for. A pitch is like an offer letter that tells organizations about your service and how they can benefit from working with you.

Create a funding strategy

A funding strategy can be done while you are pitching potential clients or it can be done after you’ve secured a job.

A funding strategy is a plan of action that shows which grants you plan to pursue. This strategy typically includes an evaluation of current funding methods and additional research.

Donorly.com suggests that a funding or fundraising strategy includes important information about the organization, a marketing plan, and a way to keep track of your funds.

How to find grant writing jobs?

When it comes to granting writing services, directly approaching non-profits or working for grant writing companies aren't the only options.

Freelance websites

Freelance websites are a great place to find work. Although these websites can be a bit competitive there are many opportunities that are posted daily.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy is a great website that shows job opportunities in many different nonprofit sectors. You could also sign up for job alerts to know almost immediately when a job is posted.

Other reliable websites include:

  • AFP Global - various fundraising job opportunities
  • Idealist - fundraising information as well as jobs and internships

Tap into your social network

Another way you can find jobs is by using your social media. LinkedIn is a great place for working professionals and organizations. You can follow organizations' pages to learn more about them and stay on top of job openings.

You can also search hashtags such as #searchingforgrantwriters, or any hashtags with the words grant writer in them.

Freelance grant writing can be your next career move

Freelance grant writing is a desirable and highly needed career. As long as there are non-profits that need funding, there will always be a need for grant writers.

If you want to support organizations in the non-profit sector with your writing make sure you are prepared.  By practicing your research skills, sharpening your writing skills, and getting a certification, you can start your career as a freelance grant writer.

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