Funds for Writers Newsletter
December 2, 2007
By Katie Krueger
Make Money Writing Grants for Nonprofits
Have you considered writing grants for nonprofits as a way
to make money? Writers willing to sharpen their skills and
learn the craft of grant writing can easily break into this
high-paying niche. It is a win-win situation: you get paid
and the nonprofit wins grants.
Offering your services as a grant writer is only three steps
away: sharpening the writing skills required in grant
applications, understanding the components of a grant application,
and building a portfolio of credibility and experience.
Sharpen Your Writing Skills
Grant proposals are divided into sections that require distinct
The Needs Assessment – Here you outline an existing problem
that will be solved with the nonprofit’s work. If you are
writing for a homeless shelter, for example, this is where you
detail the prevalence of poverty and homelessness in your city.
The writing should be persuasive enough to convince the reader
why there is a real need for your program. Include research
supports, statistics and events to support your assertions.
Learn to balance this convincing approach with writing that has
an emotional pull that compels the reader to want to help.
The Project Description – The story of the actual work the
nonprofit will do to deal with the above mentioned problem.
It is detailed enough that a reader can visualize the implementation
of the project, step by step. It should answer Who, What, When,
Where, and How in terms of the actual work being done. Practice
writing descriptive prose that is concise. You must stay within
the page limits outlined by the foundation.
Goals and Objectives – Here you must be able to quantify the
impact that the nonprofit’s work will have on the problem. This
writing is almost scientific, requiring you to measure changes
in behavior and knowledge. Work on writing S.M.A.R.T. goals
(specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely).
Research the Craft
You would not expect to write a book without having read a book.
Likewise, you cannot expect to write a successful grant without
having read one. Finding old grants to read is a fine way to
learn what is required in grant writing.
Get copies of several common applications at
http://foundationcenter.org/findfunders/cga.html . Once you
understand the structure of a grant application, read some
successfully funded proposals. Sample proposals are available
online at www.k12grants.org/samples . As you read these applications,
imagine you are deciding whether or not to fund them. Ask yourself
what kind of writing is effective in presenting a clear project?
What makes each section work? How can you ape the same style of
Reading books about grant writing will also help you understand
the craft and set you apart from other writers. A list of
recommended books is available at www.FindFunding.net/books.
Taking the extra step to thoroughly understand grant writing is
an essential step to becoming a profitable grant writer.
Build Your Portfolio
Many nonprofits have money to pay you as a grant writer consultant.
However, nonprofit budgets usually are tight so you need to show
proof you can be successful. Clips that demonstrate your writing
ability may be insufficient. To be paid as a grant writer, you need
to show you can successfully obtain funding with your proposals.
In that case, an excellent way to build credibility is to volunteer
your time writing a few grants for a cash-strapped organization that
you believe in. Do your best work and keep track of what grants you
write. These are seeds to plant in your grant-writing portfolio. In
your resume, be sure to quantify your success in terms of dollars
acquired and successes achieved.
You are ready to find a paying gig! Apply for either full-time
grant writing jobs or offer your services as a freelancer to
local nonprofits. Grant writers are paid by the project or hour.
Do not accept commission payments (a percentage of the grant
award.) This is considered unethical in the profession. For more
professional standards, visit The American Association of Grant
Professionals, the organization dedicated to advancing the
profession of grant writing. http://www.go-aagp.org
For grant writing jobs, visit the following websites. Search
with the keyword “grant.”