The giving of grants to non-profit organizations has long been a part of American culture. The grants come from family foundations such as the Joyce Foundation, corporation foundations such as the Lilly Foundation, and the government at the local, state and Federal level.
The grants officer is the person at the non-profit side who requests the grants from the organizations. The officer works closely to match up the goals and expectations of the giver with the needs and desires of her non-profit.
Each granting organization has its own cycle of giving, procedures and preferred funding goals. The grants officer must research and be familiar with each granting organization on an individual basis. Basic research includes finding and identifying likely sources of grant revenue, and advanced research would involve analytical and quantitative studies of prior successful grant requests.
Grant officers can spend months writing a single request in order to get the wording correct. Most granting organizations provide a template to follow, and ensuring the requested information is covered with the required specifics is critical to the success of the grant request.
Submitting a written request often times only starts the process for a grant. The grants officer may become involved over an extended period of time with phone--and even face to face--contact with the grantmaker. Marshaling a persuasive oral case for an organization and why it should be funded may make the difference between a failed or successful grant. Often these discussions lead to a request for a resubmission for a following year, with advice on shoring up weak spots in the request.
Receiving funding from a grantmaking organization may take several years to accomplish. Fine-tuning a proposal to get closer and closer to meeting the requirements for a particular grant requires focus on existing prospects. Following up to keep an organization’s name in front of the donor, yet not making a nuisance of oneself, is a balancing act that needs judgment, interpersonal skills and great communication.
Keeping track of prospective donors, existing donors and previous donors is critical towards having an effective grants department. The grants officer must have the information organized and categorized for easy access, often using specialized software for this task.
Grant writing cuts across all areas of a non-profit organization, and the grant officer must be intimately familiar with how the NPO works, what the goals are and how to best meet them.
In most major cities the average 2010 salary for a full time grants officer ranges from $50,000 to $70,000. The salary in smaller cities ranges from $35,000 up. Many small non-profits cannot afford a full-time grants officer, so they hire either a part time one or engage a contract service to write grants for them.
According to the BLS the job outlook for Grant Officers is strong, with a 14% increase through 2018.
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