9 grant writing jobs for beginners
Grant writing can be a very lucrative and rewarding freelance writing career. With so many organizations looking for fundraising help, it’s a field in high demand.
To help you get started, we’re sharing some of the best types of grant writing jobs for beginners. You’ll also find tips on looking for jobs and how to make sure you rise above your competition when applying.
What is grant writing?
A grant is a financial award given to an organization to help fund its work. Grants are usually given out by the United States federal government, community programs, or large corporations. To apply for grant funding, eligible organizations must send in grant proposals.
Grant proposals are clear documents designed to persuade the funding agency that your client has fully considered the cause, has a plan to help, and can bring the project into action.
Proposals consist of several different elements. Though the exact layout of each one varies from grant to grant, here are a few common things you may be asked to incorporate into a proposal:
- An abstract
- A statement of need
- A description of the project
- Success metrics of the project
- The amount of funding you’re requesting
- Why the organization is qualified to apply
Each of these must be customized for each grant. And since finished proposals are often several pages long, it’s hard work to write a grant. It’s an even harder task to write one that has what it takes to be successful.
That’s where grant writing comes in.
A grant writer helps the organization by completing the application for them. Often, these organizations are short-staffed or don’t have any skilled writers on their team, so they hire a freelance proposal writer to handle this.
If you decide to become a grant writer, it can be a lucrative career once you get started. Pay varies depending on your experience and your client’s budget, but freelance grant writers usually charge anywhere from $20 to $100 an hour.
If you write a few grants and find that you enjoy it, you may decide to pursue a full-time career as a writer for one company to help them secure grant funding year after year. Glassdoor estimates that career grant writers earn an average annual salary of $50,590.
What you need to be successful at grant writer jobs
If you think grant writing sounds like a fit for you, here are a few skills you need to become a successful proposal writer.
Strong research skills
Clients may ask you to find relevant funding opportunities to apply for. Even if the company already has a specific funding source in mind, you must dive deep into data and statistics to show why the company is a good fit. You’ll also need to write a compelling “Need Statement” for the grant loan requirements.
Strong writing skills
Each section of the proposal often has word limits, so it’s essential to be concise in your writing. Every word matters in a grant proposal.
Misspellings and grammatical errors can get proposals thrown out. While various writing resources can help you turn in good work, you want to possess a strong command of the English language before you try writing a grant.
Grants are complex documents with several sections. Each one has its own requirements. As a grant writer, you must keep track of these grant loan requirements and ensure your writing meets them. You may need to integrate photos, videos, letters of support from the community, and other attachments to the proposal. And, you have to do this all on a deadline to get the application in on time.
Have good money sense
Grant proposals ask for money. They also show how each penny of the grant funding would be used. So, some clients may ask you to build a budget for the project. Even if your client handles that part, you’ll still need to write about the funds and how the company will use them.
Excellent communication skills
Strong written communication abilities are a must when writing persuasive grant proposals. But verbal communication is just as crucial since you may also need to talk to members of the community to get their input or collaborate with a team.
Good at following directions
The ability to follow all submission processes exactly is non-negotiable, as failing to do could mean your proposal never gets looked at. If you like doing things your way, a different type of freelance writing job might be a better fit.
Above those basic requirements, organizations may have additional ones. Some may ask for you to have a bachelor’s degree. Others want grant proposals written by a freelance writer with several years of experience or a deep understanding of their industry. For instance, a company searching for an arts grant writer might require passion and experience in the arts.
Read the job descriptions carefully to see which ones you’re eligible to apply for.
Where to find grant writing jobs
There are many grant writer jobs out there if you know where to look and what search terms to use. Some quick tips to get your search started are:
Search engines can be your friend when you’re searching for a freelance writing job. But you have to know the right terms to type in, so you don’t get overwhelmed with thousands of job ads that aren’t what you’re looking for.
Try using the terms “grant writing job for beginners” or “work from home grant writer jobs” for more targeted job ads. For even better results, get really specific with your searches. Try adding in your location, or a niche you think you might enjoy writing about.
Check job boards frequently
Many people assume that the most popular job boards are only for full-time, regular positions, but a lot of companies post freelance writer jobs on these boards. You can usually find a few grant writing job ads on the general boards, and even more on specialized boards, such as:
When looking through job ads, remember to use the proper search terms to narrow down your results. If you want to work from home, include “remote” in your search. If you’re passionate about education, do a search specifically for “school grant writer jobs.” You can do this for any field you’re interested in.
Remember that job boards are frequently updated, so the more often you check them, the more likely you’ll find a job listing in the early stages. To spot new job postings, make job board checks a regular part of your daily routine.
With just a few minutes a day, you can be confident that you’re not missing out on any job opportunities.
Use work marketplaces
Work marketplaces such as Upwork often have listings for freelance grant writing jobs. Competition on these sites can be fierce, but don’t be intimidated. If you put a little work into building a solid profile and send proposals regularly, you can find some great writing jobs this way.
Here are a few other work marketplaces with freelance grant writing opportunities you can check out:
Turn to social media
Social media may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you start a job search, but it’s becoming increasingly common for employers to post job openings on their social profiles. LinkedIn is the best place to start as a career-oriented platform, but you can also check Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook your next job.
Follow the pages for any organizations you’d like to work for, and don’t forget to browse through relevant hashtags. You may not find tons of results through hashtags, but there should be a few.
Here are a few hashtags to start with:
Volunteer your time to get grant writing experience
Many companies require their grant writers have prior job experience. If you’re having a hard time finding your first grant writing job, consider writing one pro bono for a local nonprofit.
The smallest nonprofits often need the most help, and they might not be able to afford to pay a writer. They’d likely be very grateful if you offered to draft grant applications for free. You can feel good knowing you helped an organization that needed it while also giving your resume a critical boost. One or two pro bono projects may be all it takes to make your resume look more appealing to paying clients.
If you decide to go this route, remember to stay focused on your goals and treat this free job no differently than you would one for a paying client. If they like your work and professionalism, these clients are often more than happy to write a glowing testimonial for your website.
Make sure that you’re networking with other grant writers in your area or online. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking of them as your competitors; that only creates unnecessary tension and it could prevent you from learning more about your industry and finding new opportunities.
Instead, you should think of them as your coworkers, and develop friendly relationships with as many other writers as possible.
Freelance writers pass along extra jobs to others in their network all the time, and grant writing is no exception. If you’re friends with a grant writer who ends up with more jobs than they have time for, you may just get a call to see if you’re able to take a job off their hands.
Send a cold pitch
Instead of waiting for the perfect job listing to show up, you can (and should) cold pitch your skills as a grant writer. Cold pitching an organization you want to work for is one of the best ways to land a job.
Because grants are time-sensitive, posted job openings are typically quickly filled. You may find yourself missing out before even getting the chance to apply. Cold pitching helps you beat the rush and lowers the competition.
Try to develop a list of organizations that could use your help with the grant writing process. Remember, the smaller and more local they are, the easier it is to get in touch with someone who has the power to hire you.
Once you have your list of potential clients, spend some time researching their mission. You want to write for a company that you feel confident standing behind.
Then, start doing some research on available funding sources for each organization. They may not be aware of every grant opportunity, so if you mention a specific grant in your pitch, that could catch their attention. By researching grants that could help your potential client, you’re one step closer to proving yourself to them.
9 types of grant proposal writing jobs
If you’re ready to get started as a grant writer, you’ll need to decide which type of grant you want to write first. If you can, try picking a field that you’re passionate about. The more excited you are about the grant you’re writing, the less it’ll feel like work. Plus, your client can probably tell if you genuinely care about the cause. They’ll be much more eager to work with you if they think you’re not just in it for the paycheck.
Below are a few of the most popular types of grant writing jobs you can explore.
Education grant writer
Schools are always looking for extra funds for new technology, more books, program activities, and exciting educational projects. It’s important to note that schools have strict rules they must follow regarding grants. For example, grants for large amounts of money often have to be approved by the school board. The U.S. Department of Education has a useful guide with helpful tips for educational grant writers.
Education grants are available for preschools all the way through colleges and universities. You can check with the schools in your area to see if they have a grant writing job for you. If they don’t, the options are endless for working remotely with a school outside your town.
Health grant writer
Health grants fund a wide variety of projects, like substance use prevention, physician training, and medical research. To succeed at this job, it helps to have a solid understanding of the issue you’re writing about, but don’t be scared away from writing health grants just because you didn’t go to medical school.
The most important thing is that you understand the goals of the applying organization and can articulate how the grant would help them meet those goals. To learn more about the types of health grants available, you can check out the Rural Health Information Hub.
Environmental grant writer
There are a lot of grants available for projects with a positive impact on the environment. Maybe you could apply for a grant job to help your town set up a new recycling program, or a job that helps get the necessary funding for a university to research sustainable plastic alternatives.
If you’re interested in a job writing environmental grants, the EPA is a great resource. They have lists of available grants, as well as training resources for grant writers.
The arts grant writer
If you’re a fan of the arts, then a grant writing job for artistic projects could be a great fit for you. Your client could be a local theatre, a community arts group, or even an individual artist.
The National Endowment for the Arts is one of the most prominent funders of arts grants, so its website is a great place to start learning more about arts grant writing opportunities.
Business grant writer
Some startup businesses rely on grants to get started or take their business to the next level. If you have a mind for business, this could be an excellent avenue for you to get started with grant writing.
The Small Business Administration has more information on business grants if you’re ready to learn more about possible job options for business grant writing.
Animal welfare grant writer
Do you love your dogs as much as your kids? Do you pull over to help every time you see a lost kitten on the side of the road? If so, you should consider writing grants for animal welfare causes.
These types of grants could help fund a spay and neuter program in your town, provide pet health education, or even save an endangered species. The Association for Animal Welfare Advancement has a list of animal wellness grants you can look through.
Take a look and see if you can find a grant job that your local animal shelter or animal rights advocacy group would qualify for.
Community planning grant writer
A variety of community planning grants are available to help improve communities all around the country. The money from these grants can help create jobs, build parks, improve housing options, and more.
Your own community is a great place to start looking for this type of grant writing job. You get the added bonus of knowing your work could help your neighbors.
But don’t feel limited to writing for your zip code. One of the best things about grant writing is that you can do it entirely remotely. Nothing is stopping you from applying for a grant writing job across the United States and abroad.
If you apply to write a grant for a community far away from home, it’s a good idea to have a plan for what you’ll say if the potential client asks you about your motivation. Maybe their town reminds you of the one you grew up in, your sister lives there, or you read a news article about the struggles they face and it broke your heart.
If you want to convince a grantor that they should care about an issue, you first need to convince the client that you care about it as much as they do.
Grant reports writer
The initial proposal isn’t the only time an organization must communicate with the funding source. Timely grant reports are also required. These are reports that update funders on how the organization used the funds.
Sometimes, companies will want a freelancer to write these reports for them. It’s a different type of writing, but one that’s still needed.
General non-profit grant writer
If you’ve been freelance writing for long, you’ve probably heard the advice to pick a niche and stick with it. That’s usually an excellent strategy.
But with grant writing, it’s not necessarily essential to stick to one specific niche. Grant writing is a skill that remains very similar across industries, so it’s possible to be a general grant writer. Working with a variety of clients keeps you busier and helps you quickly gain experience.
Downsides here are that you may have to do a little extra research to fully understand your clients’ goals if they’re in a field that you don’t know much about. It may also be harder to network or get referrals if your clients don’t have much in common.
Moreover, your resume always looks stronger if you have a lot of experience in a particular field instead of general grant writing experience.
Only you can decide which niches are worth your time, so trust your gut and pick a job you’re at least a little interested in. Grants take quite a bit of time to write, so if you choose a grant job you don’t care about, you may burn out before you even finish.
5 tips to help you land more grant writing jobs
Are you ready to land some more writing jobs? Here are five tips to help you stand out above the competition so that companies hire you.
1. Maintain a portfolio with your best work
Clients want to see your portfolio before hiring you. They want to know that you’re an effective writer who can write grant requests that get funded.
To help you get your portfolio ready for clients, here is a list of things to put in it.
- A link to your writing resume
- 2-3 of your best grant submissions
- A list of all grants you’ve received funding for
- Testimonials or letters of recommendation from previous clients
Your portfolio should be well-organized and easy to access. You can keep it on your website or even on a file-sharing site like Google Docs.
2. Update your social profiles to reflect your new expertise
Ensure that you list grant writing as a skill on all of your professional profiles, including LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. You can even share a post advertising your business as a writer, and ask if anyone knows of any job opportunities.
If you want to make grant writing your primary focus, try taking your social media presence a step further. Change your LinkedIn bio to include “Grant Writer,” or create a new banner for your Facebook cover photo announcing your writing business.
Remember, the more people know about your grant writing skills, the more likely you are to hear about new job opportunities or have your name passed along when someone needs help with a grant.
If you have a website, you can add a page about your grant writing experience. Include information about what sets you apart from other writers and any niche categories you want to write for.
Make sure to note any relevant non-writing experience as well. If you mainly write grants for school districts and you have five years of teaching experience, that’s the kind of thing your potential clients are looking for.
3. Take a grant writing course
A grant writing course is a great way to learn the skills you need to succeed as a professional writer. Of course, many grant writers are self-taught. You may not need a bachelor's degree in English or other related fields to make it in this industry.
However, if you have the time to spare, a grant writing course is an excellent investment in yourself and your career. It can help you get better at grant research and writing grant requests.
NonprofitReady has some free educational resources as a starting point. If you want to learn even more, there are plenty of classes you can take for a fee.
Just make sure to do your research and verify that a reputable, results-oriented organization offers the class.
4. Always deliver quality work on time
Writing an outstanding grant is only half the battle. Grants absolutely must be submitted by the deadline set by the funding organization. If it’s due at midnight and you submit it at 12:01, the judging committee won’t even look at it. It doesn’t matter if it’s the best proposal ever. All your hard work will be for nothing. And the organization that hired you won’t want to work with you again since you missed the deadline and they lost out on funding.
If you tend to procrastinate, do whatever it takes to make sure you wrap up your content writing early. Set reminders on your phone to go work on the piece, create a schedule to ensure you get each component of the proposal drafted, and give yourself a due date earlier than the job requests.
This is especially true if your client wants time to review the draft grant applications before submission. The earlier you can get the content to them, the better.
5. Ask your clients for testimonials and referrals
If you get the sense that your client is pleased with the job you did on your grant proposal, ask them to write a testimonial about it. You should definitely do this if your grant proposal receives funding, but even if it’s not, this is a great way to show that the client is still happy they hired you. Testimonials prove that you’re responsible, reliable, and good at what you do.
Also, ask your client if they know anyone else who needs your services. Referrals are a great way to grow your career and land more clients. Even if they can’t think of anyone in the moment, you’ll at least plant the seed in their mind that you’re interested in future work. Then, they can drop your name if anything ever comes up.
Get started as a grant writer
There are so many ways to make money as an online writer, but grant writing just may be the most rewarding. Your words in this field make a massive difference for your clients and the people they serve. It’s certainly writing you can be proud of.
What are you waiting for? With just a little work hunting for a grant writing job, you can be on your way to an exciting new chapter of your writing career.