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How to Become a Freelance Grant Writer

written by: Sylvia Cochran•edited by: Jacqueline Chinappi•updated: 7/5/2011

Free grant writing classes online may be your ticket to a lucrative freelance career as a professional grant writer. Grant funding is the lifeblood for many a philanthropic foundation, nonprofit organization and even some corporations. Distance learning courses and materials info helps you start.

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    What is Grant Writing?

    Grant writing is a collaborative process between a writer and an organization. In the process,

    • the writer defines the project for which the grant will be used
    • s/he identifies the most likely funding sources and recipients of the grant proposal
    • the author persuasively writes a compelling proposal and submits it in keeping with the target funding source’s documentation requirements.

    It is interesting to note that most commonly grant writing is a two-part process. The initial grant letter – a preliminary proposal – must be sufficiently detailed to whet the potential funding source’s appetite for more. Even so, it must not be so full of details as to make it hard to read. The second part involves the highly detailed actual proposal.

    Finding the ideal balance is a learning process and requires the aspiring freelance grant writer to practice. Looking to distance learning classes for free coursework to get started in this business is the easiest – and most cost-effective – method.

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    Free Grant Writing Classes

    Foundation Center

    The Foundation Center is a virtual matchmaker between organizations needing grants and those offering them. Future freelance grant writers, who may have never actually tried their hands at writing a grant proposal, will find the easy to follow graphics valuable. These outline the structure of a typical proposal and make it easy to visualize the weight that each section has on the overall proposal.

    Non-Profit Guides

    The information available on the Non-Profit Guides site is a collection of essential grant writing resources for the beginning, intermediate and also advanced grant writer. The material was put together by a successful grant writer with a wealth of experience, who is offering all of his experience gratis. What makes this free grant writing resource so valuable is the addition of samples that make it possible for the newbie to get a feel for the language and the use of persuasive terminology.

    The Idea Bank

    The online course here takes the form of an e-book entitled “Anatomy of a Grant Proposal." This is a must-see for the visual learner. It is attractively segmented and short on flowery writing but filled with bulleted advice and points. Identifying potential pitfalls, it warns the new grant writer away from commonly made mistakes.

    Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance

    A government site provides insight into the grant proposal writing process. This is a very wordy online resource but at the same time offer invaluable tips and tricks that help the writer think like a grant maker. The Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance is actually a government organization that seeks to connect Americans with federal government grants. As such, this is a crucial resource for anyone intending to tap the federal government for grant funds.

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    After Taking One or More Free Grant Writing Classes Online

    Once the basic nuts and bolts of grant writing are clear and the process no longer appears to be intimidating or overwhelming, it is time to consider marketing this new niche. With the decreasing donations and fundraising successes that many nonprofit organizations now experience, the demand for effective grant writers is high.

    Even writers, who may have never crafted a grant proposal outside of an online class assignment, are sure to find an organization willing to give them a chance. Freelancers will do well to capitalize on this unique business niche with targeted advertising and social media marketing.