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Grant Writer vs. Grant Professional

Nonprofits often rely on grants for a portion or even majority of their funding. Whether a nonprofit uses a staff grant writer or contract help, I find it’s important to understand the level of expertise needed.


The major difference is that a grant writer focuses on writing the grant proposal, while the grant professional is responsible for many other aspects of the grant funding cycle. The amount of experience and specific expertise is part of being a grant professional.


No matter who is working on your grants, make sure to have a clear idea of what is needed, what are your goals, and understand how grant funding can help your nonprofit.


Grant Writer

A grant writer (and a grant professional) must know how to write. They must know how to compose complete sentences with verbs and nouns. They must understand syntax, verb tenses, and the difference between an adjective and an adverb. Grant writing is also a different form than other types of writing. They must be able to answer grant questions succinctly and often with a limited character or word count. This person would typically work under the direction of a more experienced development professional.


What Makes a Good Grant Writer:

  • strong writing skills

  • attention to detail

  • ability to edit narratives

  • ability to follow directions and meet deadlines

  • understands how programs and organizations work

  • has good project management skills

  • can help with grant research


Grant Professional

This is a more seasoned professional who might have additional trainings or certifications. Along with being a strong writer, this person will have insights into local or regional funders and can make recommendations on grant strategies. They can also advise on other grant materials, such as program budgets, financials, and goals.


What Makes a Good Grant Professional:

  • has ten or more years of experience

  • practice with different types of grants for various organizations

  • experience in the entire grant process from grant readiness to grant reporting

  • can conduct comprehensive research using a variety of tools and services

  • able to manage multiple deadlines for a robust grants program

  • ability to coordinate with other departments to create complicated grant applications


Knowing what you need for your organization will determine whether you need a grant writer or grant professional. This is the first step toward success with grant funders.



Michelle Crim, CFRE

Your Grant Professional


Dynamic Development Strategies can help. We offer coaching, grant writing, and fundraising services for our nonprofit clients. We specialize in small to mid-size organizations because we understand your challenges. Please contact us for more information.


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