"Grant writing" is synonymous with writing grant proposals in that the object is to receive funding for a current or future project. Writing grant proposals is an art form because each grant must simultaneously be marketable and easy to read but also precise and detailed.

Grant writers should have some background in the subject matter of the project in question, and perhaps some technical writing experience as well. Many educational institutions offer courses in grant writing, but professional grant writers don't need to be certified. There are no educational standards currently in place for a certification in grant writing.

Most grant writers are already involved in the organization drafting the grant proposal, either directly as an employee or indirectly as a writer contracted to research, plan, and compose the proposal.

The grant-writing process begins internally with a request for a proposal, or RFP, that must be approved before the grant-writing process can continue. This is often a tedious step but sometimes the RFP is simply an application. After approval, the project's backers must drum up community support and identify funding sources in order to tailor the grant proposal to the individual requirements of the prospective grantor. For example, the requirements of a private organization will be different from the requirements of the federal government, which must adhere to specific regulatory guidelines.

The next step involves gathering information so that the grant writer will be able to refer to it in the process. During the entire grant-writing process, it is important not to lose track of notes or any other seemingly extraneous details. Evolving ideas and documentation systems tend to plague the process so a strict organizational system adopted at the beginning will be very helpful later on.

The grant proposal's components include:

  • A Summary: Two or three paragraphs that outline the key elements of the grant application. It should make the grantors want to read more about the application.
  • An Introduction: A detailed description of the grant-seeking organization, presenting it as a credible recipient of grant funds.
  • A Statement of Purpose: An explanation of the project's purpose and why it needs funding.
  • Goals and Objectives: A section that defines the goals of the project and lists specific objectives that will meet those goals.
  • A Plan of Action: The method by which the grant-seeking organization proposes to reach the goals and objectives of the project. It ought to be measurable and easy to evaluate.
  • An Evaluation: A list of criteria that the grant-seeking organization will use to evaluate the project's success.
  • Long-Term Project Planning: A section that explains how the project will be further funded if it is incomplete when funds run out.
  • A Budget: A detailed budget of direct and indirect costs. It should be accurate and specific.

The above elements should be carefully prepared in order for the grantor organization to see the project's vision, specific needs, and follow-through plan.

For more information regarding grant writing, check out the following resources:

Developing and Writing Grant Proposals: Section-by-section tips on writing a credible grant proposal.

Writing Tips: Recommendations on how to organize a grant proposal to communicate effectively with reviewers.

Proposal Budget: A detailed explanation of how to create a budget for a grant proposal.

Grant Proposal Sample: A list of sample grant proposals for a variety of projects.

General Tips on Writing a Competitive Grant Proposal Preparing a Budget: Exhaustive information on the grant-writing process.

About the Author

Written by Chris Fletcher (aka the Lease Guy). Chris is a senior account executive at Crest Capital, where he manages vendor finance programs for manufacturers and dealers of equipment, vehicles, and software. He's also an active Twitterer—check out his page if you follow financial topics and current events in the world of finance.