Tree Foundation of Kern

Grant Writer

To raise financial support from charitable institutions for urban forestry projects.

As charitable organizations vie for limited funds available from individuals, private philanthropic foundations and corporate foundations, the role of the grant writer becomes critical to funding key projects. Grant writing combines strong research skills with the ability to communicate clearly in writing to help nonprofit organizations achieve their goals, whether it is a request for a $500 neighborhood tree project or $2 million for a city tree planting project.

A good idea, in itself, is rarely enough to obtain a grant. Grantmakers today want assurances that the money they give away will be put to the best possible uses. The successful grant writer must be able demonstrate how funds will be effectively used to reach a worthwhile goal. "Grant writing makes you focus your thoughts on the specifics of the program and forces you to convert your ideas into something concrete," said Susan Reep who writes grants as part of her job as an executive director for a nonprofit organization.

In addition to mastering writing and the grant format, the successful grant writer must also be a shrewd grant researcher. Armed with a well-written grant, the grant writer can increase the odds of funding by selecting appropriate potential donors and weeding out those foundations or corporations that are not likely to grant a request. A well-written grant for a community tree planting project has little chance of success if mailed to potential donors that fund only children's health projects or contribute solely to large umbrella charities.

Discipline and the ability to work alone are key for the grant researcher and writer. Grant writers also must keep abreast of changing trends in the field and potential new sources of grants through additional reading and research. Organizational skills are paramount for the grant writer who must organize their thoughts into concise writing and also keep track of grant application deadlines and follow up on grants submitted.

For many grant writers, particularly freelance writers, networking is a critical part of the job as they meet regularly with nonprofit professionals and grantmakers. Many grant writers get their start with charitable organizations working in a variety of positions where they also gain exposure to grant research and writing. Although some large organizations employ full-time grant writers, for many small offices, the task is incorporated in another position such as executive director.

Dana Adams, executive director of the Tree Foundation of Kern spends approximately ten percent of her time writing grant proposals. "It's great fun to get checks with lots of zeros in the mail, but devastating when you have been rejected," Adams said. "The hardest part is trying to visualize how a $45,000 project is going to play out over a two-year period some time in the future."

Requires: Experience plus on the job training.

Salary: Can be paid salary one percentage of funding requested.