Monday, April 7, 2014

The Business of Writing: Freelance Grant Writing

Until now, I never considered doing freelance writing. Since I started taking my grant-writing class, I'm starting to think this is something I will pursue in addition to fiction writing.

Grant-writing is a little different than other types of writing (in more way than one but that's a topic for another day - maybe tomorrow, G day). If you want to write grant proposals and don't have experience doing that, the recommendation in the books I've read is to volunteer to write at least four grant proposals for non-profit organizations before charging a fee.

That's right - to make money at grant-writing eventually, you have to do it for free and do it well so you can get recommendations for paid work. You can ask for and get recommendations from these organizations even if they don't win the award - there are more factors at play than your persuasive writing skills.  

My experience is in the IT world, where you really never give away your time or expertise. Never . . . unless you include those overtime hours that aren't paid or the time spent explaining to your relatives how to get that virus off their computer.

For grant writing, it sounds like it's standard operating procedure to volunteer your skills first. 

One of the assignments for my class was to volunteer to write a grant proposal for one or two organizations. The work for this has included everything from searching for funding sources to developing a budget. I spent a good part of my day yesterday examining the organization's web site for any inconsistencies that might raise red flags to the funder. Then I examined the funder's tax forms searching for clues that might give my organization an advantage.  A lot of the work is not the writing. 

I have to say writing in this genre where peoples' lives may be dependent on how well you turn a phrase is difficult - and it's exhilarating when you get it right.  Tonight I think I got it right - at least with one section of the application.   

Overall, the experience has been wonderful, and I'm really happy to be doing some good in the world.

On the first day of class, my five-year-old asked me why I had to leave to go to class.  I explained to him that I am like a fairy - instead of granting wishes, I am helping to find the money to make the wish come true.  Now he calls it my wish-making class.

Have you done grant writing or other kinds of freelance writing?  Have you ever volunteered your writerly abilities to a good cause?

BTW, I have to get this grant application completed early this week so I can get on with the second, which is a grant for my own research and includes polishing 25 pages of manuscript in addition to writing essays about myself.  If you leave me a comment, I promise I will visit your blog by the end of the week.


  1. It sounds like writing short stories for publication for free before starting to make money from them - it's the experience and sharpening of skills. Not everyone can write up a grant. If you're doing it really well, you should go pro with it.

  2. Never done grant writing. But I can see how a talented writer might come up with a convincing application. :)

  3. Good luck with your grant-writing!

  4. Tonja, based on how you write your posts, I bet you could succeed in any medium of writing. Go for the grants, lady!

  5. Grant writing is not an easy task. So much involved - including the author's passion for the product/service. I admire your heart for this type of writing, and I'm sure it will help you in the long run for your proposals and queries. You'll learn to sell your own work.