Charity and nonprofit organizations often need to raise money to sustain their business. One source of financial support is a grant. A grant is a significant sum of money provided by the government (federal grant), a company, or an individual to fund an organization’s operations or projects. Often, the organization is involved with a humanitarian cause, such as building schools or supporting medical research.
Whatever the cause, a grant is money that is gifted to an organization. It does not have to be repaid and doesn’t purchase ownership, making grant money a highly sought-after source of funding. However, the process of applying for a grant involves a lot more than simply asking for money. A detailed grant proposal must be written and submitted to the entity the organization is seeking a grant from. To do that, the unique talents of a grant writer are required.
You may be wondering about the grant writer job description and average grant writer salary. Grant writers are responsible for preparing supporting documentation to persuade those awarding grants to fund a charity or nonprofit. In addition to knowing how to navigate the grant proposal process, a strong command of the English language and excellent writing skills are required to be a successful grant writer. A bachelor’s degree such as Maryville University’s online Bachelor of Arts in English is a solid first step toward pursuing a career as a grant writer.
Grant Writer Salary
A grant writer’s salary is dependent on several factors. The education and experience level of the writer, as well as the size and budget of the organization the grant writer works for, play a role. If a grant writer has established a track record of submitting successful proposals, an organization may pay them more than the average rate. Conversely, a grant writer with little to no experience likely will be offered less.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, writers and authors had a median annual salary of $67,120 in 2020. To cite an additional source, PayScale reported in August 2021 that the median grant writer salary was around $49,000.
Note that these salary figures are meant to serve as a guideline. Because grant writers usually are hired on a temporary contractual basis, a grant writer’s salary will largely be determined by what they can negotiate with a particular nonprofit or organization.
Grant Writer Job Description
The goal of a grant writer is to identify funding opportunities and write grant proposals to obtain those funds. Research is the first step in the process. The grant writer must understand the history, mission, primary objectives, and financial needs of the nonprofit or organization they work for.
Grant writers then work to identify grant opportunities available from government agencies and/or nongovernment entities that align with their organization’s ideals and objectives. For example, the grant writer may represent an agency that aims to provide a new tablet device to every high school student in a certain area. Armed with this information, the grant writer will search for grants that support such educational endeavors.
The next step is to draft the proposal and gather documentation to support it. Common elements of a grant proposal include a cover letter, executive summary, needs summary, and goals and objectives section. An effective grant proposal clearly and succinctly describes the organization and its objectives, explains why it is worthy of support, and details the project’s financial needs.
After the grant proposal has been internally reviewed by the organization, it may require some revisions. Once a proposal has been submitted, the grant-making agency typically will have queries for the grant writer to address. The grant-maker may ask for additional supporting documentation or request a formal meeting with members of the nonprofit’s board of directors.
Whatever the case, a grant writer will remain involved throughout the process until grant funds are awarded or denied. A big part of being a grant writer involves maintaining relationships in addition to writing, research, and record-keeping.
How to Become a Grant Writer
Organizations hiring grant writers typically seek candidates with a strong writing background and a degree in a related field. A bachelor’s degree in English is appropriate for those wanting to pursue grant writing.
Because grant writing may not be part of a university’s curriculum, aspiring grant writers often take it upon themselves to learn the trade through a certificate program. The American Grant Writers’ Association (AGWA) provides courses in grant writing along with certification for those who complete the course.
A certificate in grant writing along with a degree in English or a related field will help prepare a grant writer to secure an internship with an organization or nonprofit. Aspiring grant writers would do well to select an internship in an industry in which they ultimately want to work.
To secure an entry-level grant writing position, most organizations require at least two years of on-the-job experience. However, some organizations may be comfortable hiring a grant writer with minimal experience whose writing ability shows great promise.
Skills Grant Writers Need
In addition to being skilled wordsmiths and possessing knowledge of the grant writing process, successful grant writers are proficient in research and information gathering. They have a strong understanding of the industry they’re writing about, the organization or nonprofit they’re representing, and the agency they’re soliciting funds from. Submitting a successful grant proposal requires significant input and effort from the grant writer from the beginning to the end of the process.
Finally, grant writers must be skilled communicators with impeccable time-management skills. The window for a grant being offered is usually narrow, so the onus is on the grant writer to complete the research and write the grant proposal on a tight deadline.
What Can You Do with an English Degree?
An English degree is one of the more versatile degree types because it can apply to many different career choices. Companies need skilled writers to engage with customers and effectively communicate with them about products and services. Media outlets including magazines, newspapers, and social media need writers to craft content for their audience. Even with the surge of video and audio content, the written word is not going to be retired any time soon.
Below are just some careers graduates with an English degree can pursue:
- Marketing copywriter
- Content writer
- Public relations writer
- Grant writer
Students interested in any of the careers listed above should understand that work experience and education can increase their earning potential in much the same way a grant writer’s salary is improved by these pursuits.
Many Paths to Success
Grant writers are critical for organizations that need to secure funding to pursue their mission. Fundraising is a difficult and competitive endeavor that relies on grant writers to match their organization with sources of funding that align with its ideals. A skilled grant writer can mean the difference between a worthy charitable organization getting the funding it needs and one falling short of its goals.
If you are interested in becoming a grant writer, Maryville University’s online Bachelor of Arts in English can be an excellent first step on the journey. Courses such as Writing About Literature, Writing Across the Disciplines, and World Literature can all help provide the educational foundation a grant writer will need to be successful. Take the first step toward becoming a grant writer today at Maryville University.