A Guide for Breaking into the Grant Consulting Field

As you can guess, the majority of our attention is occupied to giving the best unfunded ideas opportunities for support. On the flip side of this, however, is our desire to see talented young social impact professionals become more involved in grant consulting and evaluation. For one, it’s a great position to be in: you play a big part in helping great ideas develop into powerful organizations that can attract support and be formidable agents for change. More importantly, new voices in general are needed in the grants management world to help correct flaws in the current system and think of intuitive ways we can help organizations grow.

The problem, however, is that breaking into grant consulting is not an easy proposition. There is no typical career path that determines how you get there. Yes; grant writing is the obvious one, but this doesn’t automatically prepare you for consulting. if you’ve only been writing for one organization, or one type of organization, then you might have too narrow an understanding to help organizations in different focus areas.

Serving on a grant review committee in an organization is another way of making inroads, but it suffers the same limitations as being a grant writer: the criteria and process used to determine winners might not applicable to other organizations, and in some cases, the rubric being used might end up shutting out more good ideas than expected.

If you aim to become top-level grant consultant, however, it’s best to get the widest range of writing and evaluating experience possible. Given this preference, we have a few recommendations for aspiring grant consultants to do exactly that:

Get involved with Giving Circles Fund

We’d argue that one of the most important traits of good grant consultant is the ability to determine the originality of the idea and whether it is described thoroughly. Giving Circles Fund provides you with the opportunity to get experience doing this. Giving Circles is a very intuitive startup with a simple process for getting involved. You either build a giving circle and invite your friends, or you join an existing circle, then your circle nominates a cause that you wish to fund. Giving Circles will then forward a list of nominated nonprofits (vetted by Giving Circles own evaluation process) in the particular focus area. Your giving circle will then vote on the best one, and this top vote-getter will receive a donation.

This process will give you valuable experience evaluating organizations in any field of your choosing, and It also provides a great view of the landscape of whatever cause you’re interested in, so you will know how to spot a promising startup organization in the future.

Write grants for Elevate

Elevate has a straightforward and innovative mission: they write grants for nonprofit organizations who wish to outsource this work, so that their respective leaders can focus on day-to-day responsibilities. This means that any aspiring grant writer can get experience writing for multiple organizations covering multiple causes, thereby getting the range of perspectives necessary to become a quality grant consultant down the line.

Elevate’s record speaks for itself: they’ve worked with 62 nonprofits, bringing in over $23 million in grant funding since launching in 2013. Even better, if you are a young graduate with a liberal arts background and no prior experience, Elevate will take steps to train you. For 20-somethings looking to break into the social impact world: shake off your young adult malaise and apply.

Look for Grant writing and editing opportunities at onlinevolunteering.org

This is the less ideal option, because everybody would like to get paid for their work. Nevertheless, for anyone looking to write grants for multiple organizations, there are tons of opportunities available each week. There are even opportunities to write grants for international organizations, although we’d recommend really familiarizing yourself with the process of doing that before diving in. Most importantly, you can highlight this volunteer grant writing experience in your resume/cv and it will reflect your passion for helping organizations develop and grow.

Join the Unfunded List evaluation committee

Do you have experience managing and evaluating grants? Are you looking to gain more experience while giving back in a rewarding way? Does spending more time with Dave Moss appeal to you? We accept professionals from all backgrounds in order to give our candidates the widest range of feedback. Send us your info to be considered.