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What Does It Take To Be a Grant Writer?

Updated: Jul 20, 2022

"I can write pretty well. I think I'll be a grant writer," said too many people more often than they should have.

On the surface, grant writing appears to be a profession that would simply require excellent composition skills.

And while being a good writer is critical, it is just one element of building a successful grant writing career.

So, you want to be a grant writer, eh? Let's talk about what it takes.

Advanced Composition Skills

We'll start with the most obvious. Successful grant writers have a firm grasp of the nuances of the written English language. When your organization is competing against dozens of other worthy nonprofits with amazing missions and exceptional programs, the last thing you want is for your application to be overlooked because of poor syntax, grammatical errors, or misspellings.

Nonprofit Development Knowledge and Experience

Before writing your first grant proposal, you need to understand nonprofit development and fundraising strategy. Typically, grants are one element of a larger campaign. Grant writers are more successful in engaging the right funding partners and securing awards when they understand the bigger picture and can tell the story of the fundraising need and plan.

Persuasive Writing Skills

It all comes down to persuading your audience, in this case, the grant-maker, that your need is greater, will have a more significant impact, and/or will be a better investment than the other requests they will review. In grant writing, you achieve this through story-telling and relevant data.

While you should never embellish your stories or data to be persuasive, you should instantly recognize which stories and data accomplish that goal as the writer. You gain this recognition through experience reviewing and drafting grant proposals and researching grant-makers and their funding priorities.

Research Skills

As a grant writer, you need to know where to find grant opportunities, how to read profiles, grant-maker websites, and proposal requests. Beyond just grasping their correlation to your need, you should be able to read below the surface, gaining an understanding of how their funding priorities relate to your program and its needs and how to craft your message in a way that portrays that correlation well and in an appealing way.

Communication and Follow Up

Applying for a grant is more than simply typing up a proposal and dropping it in the mail. Most often, as the grant writer, you must communicate with the grant-maker before an application is submitted, during the drafting process, and after submission to confirm receipt and/or submit required post-grant reporting.


Managing all of the elements of a grant proposal requires significant organizational skills. And while this may look different from grant writer to grant writer, letting things fall through the cracks is unacceptable and could lead to incomplete applications or missed deadlines.


Need a professional grant writer to help your nonprofit take its fundraising strategy to the next level? Just Write Grants can be your nonprofit's virtual grant writer, providing high-quality proposals, research, and submissions based on more than a decade of experience and multiple millions of dollars of grant funds secured.

To learn more about Just Write Grants and our affordable grant writing subscriptions and get 30 minutes of free custom grant research, click here or call 1-866-7GRANTS to speak to a grant expert today.

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