How to Get Started as a Grant Writer

Grant writers have one goal: to obtain funding from institutions (usually government branches, foundations and trusts, and private corporations) that offer funds to businesses, non-profits, and other organizations. Generally obtaining grants requires that special applications and proposals be submitted, and since this is a very time-consuming job that requires both a lot of research and a lot of writing and back-and-forth communication, it's no wonder that grant writing is a full-time, dedicated job all by itself.

If pursuing the gift of no-repayment-required funds for individuals and organizations is something you feel strongly about, then becoming a grant writer is a wise career choice. Of course, grant writing requires strong writing and communication skills, and a good understanding of budgets and related financial matters. Many grant writers start out with an English or communications degree, or they may have simply worked their way up from a related job.

To get started as a grant writer, you first need to put together a resume and portfolio that showcase your skills. Your resume should highlight your educational background and any related work history, as well as your dedication, resilience, and dependability. Your skills should include a strong background in spelling, grammar, and formatting; as well as the ability to use the internet as well as libraries and other sources for your research.

Your portfolio should include examples of personal or professional work that emphasizes your abilities and why you are a good choice as a grant writer. Include any past fundraising and grant applications, and if possible, recommendations from past employers.

With your resume and portfolio in hand, it’s time to pitch prospective employers and organizations! Consider your cold-call approach as a warm-up for when you’ll actually be doing grant writing. Start with local organizations and non-profits that may be more open to new grant writers; later you can use these experiences as stepping stones to larger organizations.

When discussing your position as a grant writer with a prospective employer, be sure to bring up your compensation. Hourly, per-diem (per day, usually), or per completed (successful) grant application are the usual options. Hourly and per-diem are the most reliable options for consistent pay, but if you’re an excellent grant writer who almost always achieves what has been set out to do, then opting to be paid individually for successful grant applications may be your best bet financially.

For more information, check out’s excellent .PDF guide that outlines the basic traits of a grant writer, and the steps required to become one.


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