Try your hand at grant writing.
  • Try your hand at grant writing.
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If you like to help other people score lots of money while you make some cash as well, you might try your hand at grant writing.

You have to really like research, and really, really like to write. It doesn’t hurt to have some above average math skills either.

Grant writers help nonprofit organizations find where to get government and private funding for projects so that they can continue their good works. The grant writer’s main job is to research and write the grant proposals and then wait to see if the grant money is awarded.

Grant writing is serious business, because there can be a lot of money on the line. Your research and writing skills have to be above par because these companies are counting on you to be able to write a convincing narrative so that the bureaucrats will give them government funds for their company. There’s a lot of pressure for you to cross your ‘T’s’ and dot your ‘I’s,” but if you can pound out a lot of grants you can make a decent living.

You don’t have to have a fancy degree or certification for this line of work. You have to know how to construct a sentence, and you need to be able to follow strict government guidelines. So if you can’t write about anything but vampires, this isn’t your gig. If you can calm your inner muse, then there is a lot of money to be made for everyone involved.

Sometimes new nonprofits might ask you to write on commission arrangements, where you only get paid a percentage if funding is received. Don’t do it! This is considered highly unethical. Most grant writers are paid an hourly or per diem compensation, rather than deferred pay contingent on grants received. Seriously, walk away if they ask you to write on commission.

Tara Michaels of San Marcos became a grant writer for a nonprofit educational organization after she lost her newspaper reporting job.

“I love the research, and I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of doing this before,” she said. “It’s highly stressful at times and the deadlines are crazy, but it’s satisfying work.” Michael’s charges $50 an hour for her services. “I only write grants six months of the year, so I need to charge a decent rate. I work hard, 50 hours a week, so they get their money’s worth out of me.”

To become a professional grant writer, you might want to acquaint yourself with the field for which you are writing grant proposals. If you’re writing a grant regarding funding for a senior meal program, it helps to provide accurate statistics on the benefits of such programs. You need to make sure you do your research and ensure you’re tailoring your message to your specific donor. For example, corporate grants are more press-release oriented, while government grants are far more technical.

There are some expensive courses you can take online to learn how to write grants, but a book from the library might be just as informative if you’re already a pretty decent writer.

The Foundation Center, a nonprofit that has been in operation since 1956, is one organization that does offer courses in grant writing, aiming to cover the skills necessary to create a solid proposal. “Our day-long proposal writing seminar provides attendees with a base from which to succeed in foundation fundraising,” says Caroline Herbert, the Foundation Center’s manager of multimedia and on-demand training.

Herbert adds that the skills covered in a course like this include how to use a story-telling technique to bring a proposal to life, how to clearly describe the issue the project addresses, how to add supporting data, and how to create a comprehensive budget that clearly reflects the proposal’s narrative.

The foundation’s Website, foundationcenter.org, offers some information on how to write each section of the grant and if you’re really quick that’s maybe all you need to kick-start your next job.

So if you’re an unemployed writer of any sort, you might look into writing grants- it’s not intimidating as is sounds and there’s lots of government money to be made by helping others – and yourself- make money.

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