Build a Recession Proof Grant Writing Business. Make up to $250K as a freelancer OR more, when you start your own Grant Writing Agency.
Professional Grant Writers develop and write grant proposals and requests-for-funds on behalf of various organizations and individuals. Grant proposals range from filling out very simple 2 or 3 page documents to fully developed 20 to 50 page proposals that include personnel bios, project outlines and detailed operating budgets.
Grant writing is a recession proof business.
Individuals, companies and organizations are always looking for money! AND they are especially in need of money during local or national recessions. This is one of the FEW freelance writing niches where recessions can actually increase your writing income!
Many writers think that writing grant proposals is a low paying proposition.
As with any writing specialty, there is a wide range of areas in which you can position yourself and a wide range of income possibilities.
Yes, there are many non-profit organizations that border on poverty or who have super tight budgets. If you have no experience, this can be a great place to get some experience, build your portfolio and get some really good referrals, once you do a great job.
Once you have a bit of experience, you will be happy to know that . . .
Full time grant writers can make anywhere from $60,000 to $250,000 a year. Surprised? Look at it this way … grant writers bring in BIG BUCKS to the organizations they work for. There is a lot riding on the grant proposal, so organizations, businesses or individuals are willing to pay for someone with a proven track record. Some grant writers generate millions of dollars for their clients. Many not-for-profit organizations are well funded, well staffed and have money.
You can get started by adding grant writing to your list of “things I can do” to your “freelance writer menu.” I got paid $1500 for the first grant proposal I wrote. Because of the learning curve I had to go through, I probably made about a $1.00 an hour.
It was worth it because I then had a sample of a Grant Proposal I could show other prospective customers. I had a happy client (they got MORE than they asked for) who referred me to several other writing clients. The bonus was that I felt really great, because it was a worthy cause AND they got the money.
Years later I got a grant writing contract for $15,000. Before I was done, I made a total of $30,000 for less than two months of work.
Will Save you a huge amount of time developing, organizing and compiling grant proposals.
I consider it a MUST for anyone serious about Grant Writing
Here is another resource that you will find to be of help:
Grant Writer Fees:
There are several ways grant writers charge for their services.
Rates range from a low of $30/hour to $100+/hour depending on the grant writers level of experience and track record of success in securing grants. Of course everyone is going to ask, “how long will it take?” and will only hear the lowest number you quote! Make sure your lowest quote is right in the middle and is what you would have charged for a “by the project” fee.
By the Project Fee
After a thorough assessment of the full range of the job requirements, many grant writers prefer to quote by the project. Depending on the length and complexity of the document fees range from $1500 to $25,000. Many writers offer differing rates that depend on the source of the grants.
Commission Based Fee
You really MUST be careful here … procuring grant money on a commission base is illegal in many states/provinces. And of course you are taking a big risk tying your compensation into the success of getting a grant. Often writers will negotiate a base fee with a commission for getting the money. I’ve seen some writers base the amount of their commission on the amount of money the organization receives.
Grant Writing Services:
Here is a rundown of the different services a grant writer can offer.
- Writing Grant Proposals. The individual/organization already knows what grant they are applying for and needs the proposal(s) written by a professional.
- Grant Proposal Review. You assess a written proposal to ensure completeness and compliance with the guidelines. You are responsible for proofreading, editing, offering suggestions to overcome weaknesses and if necessary restructuring the document.
- Grant Proposal Evaluation. You can perform an evaluation of the proposal without doing rewrites or revisions. Offer suggestions for improvement and point out areas that are weak.
- Grant Research. Identify funding sources that are compatible with an organizations/individuals goals. This could include letters of inquiry to various grantmaker organizations.
- Grant Master Documents. You can set up a grant application “bible,” filled with all the pertinent information about the grant seeking organization — their mandate, their staff. The bible should include boiler plate paragraphs and pages that can simply be copy/pasted into a grant application.
- Grant Writing Coach or Consultant. This service is basically what you want it to be. Walk a client though the process, become a business mentor, or teach staff members how to find funding bodies.
Image courtesy of Geralt on Pixabay
What Does It Take To Be a Grant Writer?
Strong Research Skills
In order to write a proposal you have to have good solid information on two organizations. The first is your client … who ARE they and what do they do. The second organization you need to understand is the entity who is funding a grant. What are their goals, and the purpose of giving away money? Who has received grants from them in the past, and what was the money being used for. The better you understand each organization, the better your possibility of slanting the application for success!
You may be asked to find grants that are appropriate to your client. You should be able to quickly identify potential grant sources and analyze the fit between your client and the donating organization. The closer the fit, the greater are the chances of your client getting a grant. Their success is your success!
Finding sources of money is hard work. It is also time consuming to the point where your client may NOT understand “why it is taking so long.” I’d strongly suggest adding this type of service ONLY if you plan on doing grant writing full time. Why? The first time you do this type of research you should set up your research files. It will take gobs of time. The second time you “seek and find” funding organizations you will already have a database filled with information. Each time you add information to your database the the job gets easier and faster.
The good news is that there are services that help you find Funding Organizations. Check out the resources section below to find out more.
Strong Interpersonal Skills
You will have to get basic information from your client. What is their mission, what are their goals. Why do they need the money. What are the specific projects or initiatives that they need the money for. What is the clients history, do the principles (board of directors) have resumes and/or bios, who is developing the budget for the project and on and on … depending on the nature of the grant.
Getting information from busy staff members may be a major challenge. What YOU want is a pain-in-the-butt for them. They may resent that an outsider has been hired for the job. They may put you off … not just once. If you are prepared for some resistance, it is easier to deal with.
You may also be dealing with committees and board members who are not all on the same wavelength! It is up to YOU to build consensus.
Image courtesy of Kamboompics on Pixabay
Strong Organizational Skills
Most grant applications have deadlines. Can you meet them? You may also be responsible for following up on grant applications. If you have more than one client, you must be able to juggle the time demands from multiple sources.
Knowledge of the Grant Process
You should have an understanding of the grant proposal process. It is up to you to compile your clients missions, goals and ideas into a workable plan that results in a kick-ass proposal. As the bridge between your client and the grant provider you are responsible for putting the project on paper so that their dream becomes real.
Patience. LOTS of it
Waiting for information. Working with committees. Ideas that are all over the map. Volunteers or staff members with differing agendas.
You must have the ability to DRIVE the project. There are deadlines and information requirements that have to be met. The reason your client is hiring YOU to do this is because they didn’t want to. You must be able to push them to give you the information and resources you need to do a great job. You have to be able to tell the BOSS the truth.
The Ability To SELL
Yes, I just said that gosh awful word … SELL. Get over it. A grant proposal in the end is a sales document. Your job is to sell the grant seeking organization and its’ goals to the people with the money. You have to present YOUR clients in the best light possible. You must be able to convey that money given will be in good hands and put to a good purpose.
One of the things I am constantly telling freelance writers is … GO where the money is. This is especially important if you are thinking about setting up a Grant Writing service.
The Reality of Location
For the most part Grant Writing is a “local” service. While it seems like it should be possible to write grant applications from anywhere in the world, the reality is your clients most likely want you nearby. You will also find your job much easier if you can show up at their offices. You will get a lot more done, faster.
If you live in a rustic cabin off the grid. It won’t work for you. At the very least you need an Internet connection.
If you live in a small town … hmmm unless the small town is in driving distance from a larger city! If you persistently work at it, you could build a customer base of individuals or small organizations who need help in one way or another. You might focus on offering coaching services to grant seekers and to small start-up organizations who need to learn HOW to find funding.
IF you are plunk in the middle of a BIG city …. perfect.
If you are unsure … do some research first before committing your time, energy and money.
There are three levels of investment you must be prepared to make.
You need to spend time reading some books on the Grant Writing Business AND collecting information from the Internet. See the resources section below for some suggestions.
You NEED something in your portfolio. The time you spend now may be the seed for a new business niche.
- create a grant application for an imaginary organization
- volunteer for a needy, cash poor organization
- personally apply for a grant for one of your own projects
- based on your record as a reliable freelance writer you can get a paying job from an organization that needs help and is willing to take the risk.
Freelance writing is your BUSINESS, you need to be prepared to invest in it. If you want to pursue grant writing as an add on to your business or as the sole focus of your business, you must get a few books about Grant Writing onto your bookshelf.
Consider joining at least one Grant Writing organization.
You should check into purchasing the services of a Grant Writing Service that helps you research and locate Granting organizations.
And finally, you might consider taking a Grant Writing course. This will give you a solid foundation of knowledge and skills BUT it will not replace the need for a minimum of one or more Grant Application Proposals in your portfolio.
Interested in getting started as a Grant Writer?
Here are several books I HIGHLY recommend. You need the first book to help you decide if this is a business niche you want to go after. You need the second book to give you a solid overview of the proposal writing process. If you decide to go ahead you get a few other books … reading them will cut your learning time in half if not more.
This is ONE (not the only) of the BEST books on becoming a Professional Grant Writer.
It is the “classic book” on grant seeking–providing a comprehensive, step-by-step guide for government, nonprofit, and individual grant seekers. Drawing on decades of experience in grant writing and professional development, Ellen Karsh and Arlen Sue Fox demystify the process of securing grants while offering indispensable advice from funders and recipients. and talks about how to set up your business, get business and sell your services.
If you are entertaining the idea of offering grant writing services or starting a business you MUST GET this book first.
This book is a heads up, reality based look at obtaining grants and funding for both non-profit and for-profit organizations.
It gives you a step-by-step approach, with real life examples. You will take a look at whether or not your organization should be persuing grants, how to determine if your organization is elegible for funding and how to write a grant getting proposal.
It is short, to the point and worth every penny in the time and effort it will save you.
This book has been around for a LONG time and continues to sell edition after edition because it is filled with solid advice.
In this revised Fifth Edition, changes and developments in the not-for-profit sector are integrated into the time-tested grant-writing formula that has proven effective time and again.
New to this edition, you’ll find an expanded discussion of the importance of relationship building, social media, and online resources to successful nonprofit funding. The text has also been revised to include guidance for nonprofit program budgets for both foundation and public funding grants.
It is part of the The Jossey-Bass Nonprofit Guidebook Series.
This Dummies Guide focuses on HOW to write grant proposals.
Here’s what one happy reader had to say:
Has all the information a newbie to the Grant Writing world needs to get started, and more. Information in this manual is helpful for other applications, such as writing business proposals. Information is cataloged in such a manner it makes this a valuable reference book long after the initial reading.
If the subtitle “Become a Grant Writing Unicorn” grabs you … it is probably because you want to become the BEST you can be. The Author delivers in spades.
If you’ve decided you want to become a grant writer and you’ve decided you want to become REALLY good at it … get this book!
Here is another option …
Check out the following websites to see the various kinds of grant writing services professional grant writers offer.
GrantWriter.com While this website is really dated in appearance, all the information is there. It will give you an idea of the going rates, AND the various services offered in one part of the country.
Katherine F.H. Heart This is the website from the AUTHOR of Grantepreneur the first book I recommended above. Be sure to check out the section on Grant Services to see the types of services she offers.. She also provides Grant Writer training. Get her workbook first, you may not need any further training. This woman KNOWS the industry inside and out. Learn all you can from her.
Aaron Rome Consulting. Aaron Rome’s proposals work. Just look at the money he got for his clients. Again … look at his services and fees and at how he presents himself as a trustworthy family man.
Where ever there is money, there are ALWAYS professional organizations.
The Grant Professionals Certification Institute (GPCI) Do you NEED to be certified? Absolutely NOT. Go to their website and decide for yourself. They do an excellent sell job telling you why you need the certification.
I’ve never been certified for anything to do with writing, and have made a living as a freelance writer for over forty years. I wrote a grant proposal for multi-million dollar organization and made $30K in less than two months. They never asked me for “credentials.” Check out my story here.
Some writers do just fine without “credentials.” Others find that having credentials gives them a huge level of confidence, and is therefore a big benefit to them. Get credentials ONLY if you think it would help and only if you are REALLY serious about starting a Grant Writing business.
You may also want to check out:
Finding Available Funding
One of the add on services many Grant Writers offer is to actually help their customers FIND grants that are available. This often requires a lot of research and takes hours to drill down and find grants that your client is eligible for. If you don’t like reading the “fine print” don’t offer this service.
There are organizations that compile hundreds and even thousands of available grants. Consider getting one or more of these services. NOTE: It will STILL take time to do the research.
Grant Watch lets you know what government and foundation grants are currently available.
Foundation Directory Online has lists of thousands of Funding Organizations
Grant Station is a membership based organization with huge amounts of “getting grants” information as well as a foundation or grantmakers’ database.
The Proposal Kit will help teach you about grant writing, AND it will streamline your writing process. If you have regular clients, you can store their basic information within the program and literally create a proposal in a few hours instead of days (be sure you charge by project) IF you are serious about writing proposals of any kind (including to your own clients) you need to take a look at this time and sanity saver.