• Rachel Niemczyk

The Unexpected Jobs of a Grant Writer

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A couple of months ago I wrote a blog post on The Unexpected Jobs of a Writer. (The post is dated March 2019 now because that’s when my new website published. The original date was in February 2019). That was fun to write because it allowed me to reflect on what I’ve learned as a freelance writer, and how expectations can be very different from reality. :)

After my own experiences grant writing and some interesting discussions with other freelance grant writers, I realized grants writers also take on some unexpected jobs! So if you’re just learning about grant writing, interested in becoming a grant writer, or want to learn a little about what other grant writers have experienced, read on to learn the unexpected jobs of a grant writer!

Program Consultant. By far this is the most common, unexpected job of a grant writer. To write about a program you first have to learn about a program, and in learning about a program you may end up asking questions that change how it is operated. Because you approach programs with a “grant ready” mindset, you have different ideas on how they can be run, evaluated, marketed, etc. to provide funders the information they need. This is valuable information to program managers who may just pick your brain for more ideas and change the final execution of the program because of it!

Nonprofit Representative. As a freelance grant writer, nonprofits expect you to reach out to funders on their behalf with questions about qualification criteria, the application process, application status, and more. This is normal. Depending on the situation though, you can quickly be thrust into the position of representing a program and organization you just learned about! (A good rule of thumb is to be honest with both the funder and nonprofit about what information you can provide, and do your best to acquire information you don't have in a timely manner. Keep your nonprofit updated on all your communications with the funder whether by cc’ing them directly on the emails or sending an email with what you discussed via phone, and you’ll be good to go!)

Secretary. As a freelancer you are often expected to find the grants before you write the grants, and keep track of all necessary deadlines. Sometimes this is a fairly straightforward process. Other times it means reaching out to everyone involved in the project, repeatedly reminding them of the upcoming deadlines, and politely (but insistently) asking for the information you need. You’ll have to keep track of individual meeting notes, group meeting notes, and make sure everyone involved is on the same page. An unexpected job for sure, but one that’s necessary as a grant writer!

Fundraising Consultant. This last job applies less when you work with program managers, and more so when you work with executive team or board members. As a grant writer your insights into funders gives you a different perspective on program sustainability as a whole. (ex. funders prefer nonprofits to have multiple sources of funding for a program, not only grants.) Because fundraising is an important part of development, and development includes grant writing, you may find yourself giving advice on different types of fundraising efforts your nonprofit can implement to be a more secure investment for funders.

Do you have any thoughts or experiences on the unexpected jobs of a grant writer? Share them in the comments below so we can all learn from each other!

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Thanks for reading, and I'll see you next week with another article!

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