Let’s think about what the job of a grant writer is: to use words to sell an organization to a particular target. Now let’s think about it further: isn’t this what a top notch marketing communications professional does?
What do you look for when looking for a grant writer? Someone who has years of non-profit experience? Someone who can write well? Someone who has worked at your organization in the development department for years and years? Well I’m here to argue that you should base your search on factors outside of just these entities. And that in fact, a good grant writer may not necessarily have the background you might think.
An understanding of the nonprofit sector is important for a grant writer, as is an understanding of your organization’s goals and mission. However any marketing manager or marketing communications professional that goes into a new company has to learn these things - these are not unique abilities that can’t be grasped quickly.
The important thing to look for is the SKILL SET the person brings to the job. Those are the things that can’t be learned, and that can be beneficial or detrimental to your organization.
When you are looking for a grant writer, look instead at whether or not they have a true communications background, and exactly what type of background that is.
Can they create words that sell? This skill set comes with marketing communications.
Can they create succinct, informative copy that is easy to read and understand? This skill set comes with technical writing.
Ideally you want to find a professional who possesses both of these skills, because a grant proposal involves doing two things: presenting a lot of information in a very succinct and organized way, and presenting that information in a way that sells to the person reading it.
Finding a writer with that combination of skills, plus a desire to work in the nonprofit world, will help you have more success with developing your nonprofit organization.
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