What Does a Grant Writer Do? A Day in the Life of a Grant Writer

Author:

Amelie Heurteux

,

Customer Success Manager at Instrumentl

Reviewed by:

Published:

September 14, 2021

Last Updated:

May 27, 2024

Grant writers research, draft, and submit proposals to secure funding for organizations and individuals. They align their objectives with the grant's requirements and often collaborate with nonprofits, schools, and healthcare groups.

Their work involves:

  • identifying suitable grants,
  • crafting compelling proposals, and
  • gathering necessary documentation.

"We are grant PROFESSIONALS," says Amanda Day, Co-Owner of HayDay Services, a grant fundraising training company. "Sure, grant writing takes up a lot of our time, but we do so much more than that. We build budgets, fund life-affirming programs, build consensus, and so much more."

Grant writers play a critical role in translating organizational needs into successful funding applications, making impactful projects possible.

10 Best Lessons from 10 Grant Writing Experts

What Does a Grant Writer Do: Job Description

Grant Writer Job Description

Becoming a grant writer requires a detail-oriented mind and results-driven ambition. A grant writer crafts proposals that seek funds from donors. A grant writer is responsible for researching grants as well as developing and submitting grant applications to the funders that provide essential support for their non-profits. Grants secure crucial funding to support their organization and its mission.

An experienced grant writer possesses excellent interpersonal skills and is proficient in both funding research and in the grant writing process itself. With the right research materials, the grant writer can make an amazing case for their organization.

Let's take a look at how a grant writer job description is typically structured, by looking at an example from UrbanGlass which was posted on NYFA.

Grant writer job description example


As you can see, the skills grant writers need to demonstrate are an ability to work with and persuade individuals, groups, organizations, and government funders on issues related to their non-profit and to present and write persuasive, well-crafted proposals.

Grant writers develop necessary working relationships with organization partners or consultants and work closely with senior staff as well as board members in designing, promoting, and implementing comprehensive strategies for achieving success in securing funding.

Grant writer skills are primarily focused on persuasively promoting non-profits’ missions and programs to potential donors. It is through the grant writer’s advocacy that important funding support is gained.

What is a Typical Day Like Being a Grant Writer?

Grant Writer Typical Day

The typical day of a grant writer requires excellent time management, attention to detail, and strong multi-tasking skills. You will work as a self-starter as well as a team player and must know how to effectively balance the two.

Morning: Research and Preparation

As a grant writer, you will start your day by spending time researching relevant grants for your organization. This will entail reviewing the grant guidelines, deadlines, and preparing proposals or applications.

Grant writers are responsible for developing and managing fiscal and annual grant proposal processes, as well as for securing and managing all outside funding opportunities. Grant writers also must continually seek new funding opportunities while maintaining relationships with previous funders.

Midday: Writing Proposals

After properly researching, much of your work during your day as a grant writer will be spent writing. You will either be drafting proposals to persuade institutions to help support your organization or you will be working on writing for specific grant applications. Whether an application or a proposal, your writing should be persuasive, concise, and provide supportive materials to motivate funders to your cause.

Afternoon: Managing Proposals and Communication

Moving into your afternoon, you will check on the status of your ongoing grant proposals and applications. As an essential member of any Development team, you will be liaising between external and internal contacts such as staff leadership, board members, corporate sponsors, institutional partners, and other departments.

You will have to possess strong communication and interpersonal skills to effectively gather the information required for the grant writing process as well as exemplify your organization’s mission to others. Your job is to increase awareness in addition to sustaining your non-profit through funding.

It is important to be familiar with how to effectively communicate and report not only from within your organization but outside of it to other foundations, corporations, and even government bodies.

End of Day: Finalizing and Strategizing

A grant writer will be a leader in handling the grant proposal and writing process. You will have to manage deadlines, collect appropriate materials from other teammates, craft persuasive narratives about your organization’s mission, and research other prospects for funding opportunities. This will all involve developing and implementing effective fundraising strategies.

What Is A Grant Writer’s Career Path Like?


Grant writers are in high demand, with many nonprofits looking for writers who specialize in this field. Grant writing can be a great opportunity for freelancers who are looking to contract with organizations or for people looking to make nonprofits their career path.

Because of their diverse and valued skill sets, grant writers can transition into a number of roles within an organization. A grant writer career path could include the following:

  • Marketing and other internal or external communications roles.
  • Fundraising roles, like director of developments, major gift specialists, and more.
  • Operations roles, like program management, grant administrator, and administrative support.
  • Leadership, including management and even eventually the executive director.

The great thing about becoming a grant writer is that the skills you learn are transferable and invaluable at any job.

Tactical skills include strong communication, attention to detail, and the ability to follow instructions and integrate feedback. Softer skills include the ability to collaborate, navigate complex requirements, and manage relationships. These skills can apply to roles outside the nonprofit industry, including corporate positions.

As you progress through your grant writer career path, make connections. Take stretch assignments and serve as a trusted partner. When internal opportunities come up, those partners will be the ones to help you transition to new roles.

Whether you’re looking to make grant writing your career or simply a step on your career journey, there are endless directions you can take.

How Stressful Is Grant Writing?


Those new to grant writing may feel like it’s an incredibly stressful position.

Afterall, grant writers are typically responsible for:

  • Managing deadlines for multiple grants and funding opportunities.
  • Crafting solid proposals to help you achieve funding and managing through the disappointment if you’re not selected.
  • Maintaining relationships with funders to help you get future funding.

However, with the right planning and resources, grant writing doesn’t have to be stressful at all! The best thing you can do is to stay organized. Set a grant writing calendar where you input all of your important deadlines. Create a schedule, complete with draft deadlines, approval processes, and more.

There are also plenty of free grant writing workshops, guides, and templates out there that can help make your role much easier and more streamlined!

Is Grant Writing Tedious?


As with any job, there’s always worry that it will become tedious. Thankfully, with grant writing, you’ll have a lot of opportunities to flex your creativity as you apply for a variety of different grants.

While your mission and vision will not change, how you present it and share the impact you’ve made in your community will. Once you learn what grant funders want, it’s exciting to consider new ways to bring your organization’s mission to life and share the passion you have for your work.

Additionally, there are different types of grants, and they all have different requirements and application processes. You won’t feel like you’re repeating the same steps over and over again.

Do Most Grant Writers Work for a Nonprofit or Freelance?


There are different routes to becoming a grant writer, and two of the most common are to act as a freelancer or to work for a nonprofit as a full-time employee.

If you search for grant writing job opportunities, there are plenty of both out there, so which you choose to pursue will depend on your preference. There are pros and cons to each approach.

Staff grant writers get to know a nonprofit organization from the inside out. They are constantly on the lookout for funding for their organization and maintain a detailed calendar to stay on track with the various deadlines. Depending on the size of the organization, these grant writers may have other duties as well.

Freelance grant writers, on the other hand, are hired on a case-by-case basis. They take on an assignment, do a deep dive into the organization, and create the grant application. They may lean on the organization to provide the heart or additional details that can help the proposal stand out.

Once the work is done, they move on to the next project. Freelancers have more flexibility, and you can choose the projects that you want to work on. However, there isn’t as much stability as a full-time position.

At the end of the day, which is better depends on your needs, preferences, and lifestyle.

What Is the Hardest Part About Writing a Grant Proposal?


Even if you’re passionate about the cause, grant writing isn’t always easy. It can be a complex and challenging art form. Some of the hardest parts about writing a grant proposal include:

  • Understanding the complex and varied requirements
  • Crafting a persuasive narrative
  • Gaining stakeholder approval
  • Meeting strict deadlines
  • Waiting for an answer

As you consider how to navigate these challenges, trust in yourself and your skill level.

Ask questions if you don’t understand the requirements. Have a brainstorming session to help jumpstart the creative process. Share drafts along the way. There are plenty of resources out there that can help you when you get stuck, including Instrumentl’s free ebooks, courses, templates, and more.

Once you break down the grant application process into smaller bits, it becomes less challenging to manage.

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Why Should You Consider Writing Grants?

Why Should You Consider Writing Grants

Grants are a crucial part of the existence of a non-profit organization. Even small projects or programs have the potential to meaningfully impact the world. If you are a passionate individual seeking to support important movements and foster community, a career as a grant writer is incredibly rewarding. Grant writing is also a solid career choice for anyone interested in making money from their writing talent.

Is Grant Writing In Demand?


The demand for grant writers and grant writer skills is high. Grant writing requires a mix of analytical research, keen writing, planning, and critical thinking to meet deadlines, so it’s a field with a growing number of jobs. Technical writers’ employment is a fast-growing field, projected to increase by 7% from 2019 to 2029 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Organizations rely on grant writers to secure essential support for their operating costs, programs, projects, and mission. Non-profit organizations require grants to operate and run their programs.

Whether you are new to fundraising, a seasoned development staffer, or simply someone interested in a career that involves writing, gaining valuable skills needed to be a grant writer will strengthen your career and provide you with more opportunities.

How Much Do Grant Writers Make?


A grant writer salary will vary based on your experience and your location. Typically grant writers in the United States make around $50,000 per year. Research the salaries in your area as it may change depending on location and level of experience.

As a grant writer, you may be in a freelance or contracted position or hired on as a part-time or full-time employee.

If you are a self-employed grant writer, you may charge a flat rate fee or hourly rate. Depending on your experience, some may charge a base fee ranging from $200-500 for a specific project or application process, while others might consider an hourly rate from $30-100. You may find our article on grant writing fees helpful for reference here to learn more about a grant writer salary.

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How to Become a Grant Writer

Grant Writer

Education/Qualifications


Although there is no specific field of study for grant writers, an undergraduate degree is usually necessary and often a graduate degree is preferred.

Skills needed to be a grant writer can be gained through coursework in:

  • English
  • Marketing
  • Journalism
  • Non-profit and/or Business Management
  • Social Sciences (such as Social Work or Museology)

Strong literary skills would be acquired when undertaking English or Journalism courses. Excellent business acumen could be gained through Non-profit Management or Marketing courses. Learning more about non-profit structures and community causes could be illuminated through various Social Science coursework. Courses such as these will help familiarize you with best practices.

It is also possible to supplement your education with an online certificate or vocational diploma dedicated to granting writing. While there is no specific degree for grant writing, preparing through coursework or certification will train you for this role. You can learn more about how to earn a grant writing certificate here.

Training to Become a Grant Writer


You may consider pursuing a grant writing certificate, which would further qualify you for the field, but there are other ways that you can train to become a grant writer.

An excellent way to gain grant writer training is through internships or volunteer work. This can be done as a student or even afterward. Many organizations welcome volunteer work from preparing letters to data entry, this is an excellent avenue to familiarize yourself with specific databases or standard software (such as Salesforce or Raiser’s Edge) used within the field.

Moreover, general volunteer work for causes that align with your personal ethos will showcase your passion and care.

There are also a number of workshops and classes specific to grant writing that are available online that can be taken to gain valuable insight from experienced grant writers.

Skills to Be a Good Grant Writer


We have reviewed a number of full-time grant writer positions and have found a number of commonalities between these positions. A skill set for grant writer would include:

  • Strong persuasive writing and technical writing
  • Knowledge of when specific technical writing is required
  • Analytical research and presentation skills
  • Astute attention to detail
  • Passionate with demonstrated integrity and ethics
  • Strong organizational skills and proven problem-solving skills
  • Superb interpersonal skills
  • Remain up to date on best fundraising practices
  • Multi-tasking and flexibility
  • Project management skills
  • Gather and synthesize information to communicate in a succinct and compelling manner
  • Ability to balance working collaboratively and independently
  • Proficiency with Google Workspace and Microsoft Office, especially with calendar management and spreadsheets

Roles and Responsibilities


Through our research and analysis of grant writer positions, we have found that many shared expectations for these tasks:

  • Implements, drafts, refines and edits grant applications
  • Manages the entire grant writing process and ensures other staffers and departments are aware as well as prepared for any upcoming deadlines
  • Tracks all steps of the grant application process through a grants tracking calendar or internal database
  • Prepares any and all grants-related correspondences or materials: letters, presentations, budgets, etc
  • Manages deadlines related to letters of inquiry, grant proposals, and funding reports, gift transmittals, and acknowledgment letters
  • Maintain institutional giving records
  • Conducts prospect research on potential new fundraising opportunities
  • Researches and conducts outreach to prospective corporate sponsors
  • Facilitates in-kind donations and fosters institutional partnerships
  • Provide regular updates to the current supporter base
  • Coordinate any site visits for leadership or donors
  • Schedule meetings with board members, foundation donors, or corporate officers
  • Manage a list of all relevant credit lines necessary for any printed materials or presentations
  • Commitment to diversity, inclusion, and accessibility

FAQ on What Grant Writers Do

What Grant Writers Do FAQ

What is a grant writer?


A grant writer is a fundraiser who researches, develops, and crafts grant proposals or applications as well as reports to foundations, corporations, or any government bodies that have provided funding to their non-profit.

What does a grant writer do?


Grant writers persuasively communicate their non-profit’s programs and missions to potential donors. They secure essential funding to support their organizations through their research, writing, communication, and project management skills.

What skill set for a grant writer is needed?


A grant writer must have strong writing, research, and communication skills. It is important to know how to balance working within a team and working independently. Grant writers must have excellent organizational skills and attention to detail. An effective grant writer will be able to multitask and handle impending deadlines.

Some things you can do to prepare yourself as a grant writer:

  • You need to be a keen observer of the world around you and be a strong communicator.
  • You must also be a good listener and take on the problems and issues faced by others.
  • You must understand the various ways in which funding could be acquired by non-profit organizations, as well as how they can be acquired.
  • Your work should be detailed and informative.
  • You must also be able to understand the different grant application requirements, as well as what is the appropriate method of writing required (is it technical, persuasive, both?).

How does a grant writer get paid?


A grant writer is paid through their employment whether that is freelance and contracted or part-time or full-time work. Typically, a salary for a grant writer is around $50,000 though this may vary depending on location and experience. Freelancers may charge a base rate for a project or an hourly fee, this tends to be around $200-400 per project or $30-100 per hour.

How do you become a certified grant writer?


It is possible to gain a certificate for grant writing online or even through a vocational school. While there is no specific degree for grant writing, earning a certificate will display your commitment to grant writing to potential employers.

Wrapping Up: What Does a Grant Writer Do?

What Does a Grant Writer Do

As a grant writer, you must be able to articulate your organization’s goals, vision, and mission. Grant writers must also have a strong work ethic. A grant writer must be able to juggle multiple projects, maintain a detailed grant tracking calendar, and organize all materials for a grant proposal or grant application submission. Primarily, grant writers follow the entire grant writing process.

Their work involves research, writing, and editing grant proposals or applications for foundations, corporations, and government funders. A grant writer’s work entails submissions of reports to donors and their non-profit’s leadership.

Grant writers help to strategize funding support for their organizations by conducting prospect research and maintaining relationships with funders through relevant updates and communication.

A grant writer is essential. Their efforts sustain and grow non-profits through securing crucial funding. Most importantly, grant writers must demonstrate success. They must know how to craft their proposals and applications in such a way that will properly secure vital funding.



Amelie Heurteux

Amelie Heurteux

Amelie Heurteux, a Customer Success Manager at Instrumentl, works day in and day out training nonprofits and grant writers how to efficiently prospect new funders and streamline their grant tracking and management processes.

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