Freelance Grant Writing

The purpose of a grant proposal is to compel donors, funders and people in general to contribute funds and/or resources to a certain “pet project” that will benefit humanity and/or the community. You may have heard of such projects, such as building a new community center for elderly people, or raising money to find a cure for cancer, or funding an artist to create a statue for a local park.

It might sound simple to write a formal letter or an email that asks for money, but it isn’t—as any aspiring grant writer will attest to. To become a competent grant writer you will need to learn how to write persuasively and understand how to tap into human emotions. Writing a grant proposal usually requires more research than the actual writing; despite the tedious tasks of researching and compiling data, many writers find grant writing enjoyable and sometimes life-changing.

How Much Do You Get Paid?

It’s easy to mistaken how much clients actually pay freelance grant writers for a completed grant proposal. You will hear different pay terms and pay scales. A flat fee for a grant writing project can range between $300 to $1000, based on the project’s difficulty. A second alternative is to request a percent of any money that your grant proposal yields. A common percent is between 3-5% of the fund; for example, if you request 5% and the grant brings in $45,000, then you earn $2,250. The downside to asking for a percent is that the client will not pay you a flat or hourly rate. If your grant proposal generates no money, then the client is not required to pay you anything.

Aspiring grant writers like to charge a percent because they understand most non-profits like the option of no advanced fees. If the organization accepts to work with you under these conditions, you have a terrific opportunity to gain experience and perhaps more work from the same organization in the future.

What Do Grant Writers Primarily Do?

The primary task is to write the grant proposal—the most difficult, most time-consuming and most important document of the entire grant package. The most effective grant proposal outshines all other competing proposals. Prospective philanthropists often have mounds of proposals seeking monetary contributions; your grant proposal must engage, persuade and convince the donor that he is investing in a “worthy cause.”

If you dissect a grant proposal, you might see these universal sections:

1. The organization’s vision or mission statement, usually 2-3 sentences long.

2. The complete and specific details of the project.

3. The advantages and benefits of the project, such as how the project will benefit the community and/or help people.

4. How the organization will use the grant money. This section breaks down all costs.

5. What resources the organization will supply (money, labor, administrative services, and so on).

In addition to writing the grant proposal, an organization may also prefer you to work on the entire grant package. Such additional services would include extensive research associated with the proposal, find donors and grantors, mail out and distribute the proposals, record and track correspondences and communications, and to put together presentations. If this is the case, you may want to request that the organization pay you on a retainer, which allots a weekly or monthly budget to accommodate your fees for various services.

The Basic Skills of Grant Writing

Clear and compelling writing skills are necessary, but more important are strong fact-finding and research skills and a passion for the project. Grant benefactors claim regularly that enthusiastic-sounding grant proposals with misspellings still appeal to them more than error-free documents with artificial enthusiasm.

To land a job, you must show the organization the advantages of hiring you to undertake the project instead of having them use their own internal resources. A few tips to convince the organization to hire you is to showcase your exceptional research, organizational, and strategic planning skills, combined with a real ambition to assist them in achieving their goals.

Finding Grant Writing Jobs

You can find grant writing jobs all over the Internet, especially at job sites like and, and outsourcing marketplaces like and I see a handful of new grant writing jobs on a daily basis.

Because you’ll need to portray a professional image, you should think about creating business cards to hand out at networking events or to send with any business correspondence. If you decide to apply to local grant writing opportunities, then consider investing some money in printed materials (for brochures, sales letters, ads, etc.) to impart a level of professionalism and trust. You can send prospective clients in your area a classy publicity package that announces your availability.

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Landing a Grant Writing Job

Suppose a non-profit organization contacts you in response to a promotional brochure that you mailed to prospective businesses and organizations in your community. The director writes in an email:

Hi Barbara,

We received your pamphlet in the mail. Great timing—our congregation wants to begin an outreach program for troubled teens in the county. The Dept. of Social Work will be one of our partners but we still need to raise money and add more partners. Do you think you could help us?

On a personal level, what are your feelings about this cause? Does it interest you? Does this type of organization inspire you? If you are unsure, it probably does not deeply interest you—nor would you do your best work for this organization. It would be best to decline this project.

If the cause sparks your enthusiasm and passion to help, then do your best to answer all questions and explain exactly how you and your skills and professional connections can help. In your reply, you can say:

What a wonderful idea! I think your outreach program will greatly improve our community. Donors like to know that a non-profit isn’t just seeking donations. I can write you an engaging grant proposal that will grab the interests of donors and help achieve your goals.

Remember, enthusiasm and persistence are crucial. Show the organization that you will devote your time, skills and talent to help them realize their dream.

About the author

Brian Scott

Brian Scott

Brian Scott uses his creative skills to freelance full-time as a copywriter, SEO marketing specialist, and graphic designer. Self-employed since 1996, he's had the opportunity to work in traditional media (pre-Internet Age) and now online media. Prior to freelancing, he worked in public relations, newspaper copy editing, and mail-order marketing.

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