Grant Coordinators and Writers


Education and Training Requirements

High School

High school courses in English, journalism, and creative writing will help you develop your written communication skills. Courses in history and the humanities in general also are useful as background reference, and a solid background in mathematics and business will help you feel comfortable dealing with budgets and other financial documents.

Postsecondary Training 

A survey by the Association of Fundraising Professionals reports that 95.4 percent of respondents held a college degree; of this group, 42 percent held a master's degree or higher. Grant coordinators and writers can have any of several kinds of educational backgrounds. Some study liberal arts, some have business degrees, and some have studied in management training programs. Others have degrees in grant writing. 

Regardless of your educational background, you will need the ability to communicate clearly and effectively in writing. Much paperwork is involved in applying for a grant; the funding agency's instructions must be followed precisely, and the proposal must state the institution's goals and objectives in a clear and persuasive way.


Colleges and universities offer certificates in grant writing, fundraising, and related areas. For example, the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, offers a Fundraising Certificate Series that consists of 13 individual programs, each covering a specific aspect of the fundraising field. The programs include: 

  • Annual Strategies
  • Asking for Major Gifts
  • Budgeting for your Fundraising Program
  • Donor Motivation
  • Grant Writing Essentials
  • How to Write a Development Plan and Manage a Development Office
  • Laying the Foundation for Fund Development
  • Measuring Social Impact
  • Nonprofit Messaging that Drives Giving
  • Nonprofit Prospect Management & Research Techniques
  • Transformational Nonprofit Leadership
  • Planned Giving and Capital Campaigns
  • Researching, Cultivating and Appreciating Foundations & Corporate

Other Education or Training

Several organizations sponsor intensive workshops and seminars on grant coordination, grant writing, and fund-raising. For example, the Association of Fundraising Professionals offers a Fundamentals of Fundraising Course that contains the following modules: Overview of Fundraising, Developing an Integrated Fundraising Program, Marketing for Ongoing Success, Building & Sustaining Relationships, Securing the Gift, Partners in Fundraising, and Management & Accountability. The association also offers a Leadership Academy. The Grantsmanship Center conducts seminars and workshops in cities across the United States around 150 times a year. It helps grant coordinators and writers with proposal writing and other aspects of their jobs. The center also offers six training programs: The Grantsmanship Training Program, Essential Grant Skills, Grant Management Essentials, Competing for Federal Grants, Research Proposal Workshop, and Social Enterprise for Nonprofits. The American Grant Writers' Association and The Giving Institute also provide continuing education opportunities. Contact these organizations for more information.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

The American Grant Writers Association awards the certified grant writer designation to applicants who have demonstrated excellence in grant researching, proposal writing, budgeting, and professional ethics. The credential is designed for grant writers who are employed by nonprofit organizations, religious organizations, schools, and government agencies. Contact the association for more information.

The Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) offers the certified fund-raising executive designation to professionals who meet education and experience requirements, pass an examination, and pledge to uphold a code of ethics. This voluntary certification must be renewed every three years. The certification program is administered by CFRE International. The AFP also offers the advanced certified fundraising executive credential. Contact the organization for more information.

There is no licensing requirement or specific test that grant coordinators or writers must pass to work in the field.


Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Students should obtain as much experience as possible in the field by participating in summer internships and part-time jobs—ideally assisting with a grant application project. Additionally, previous experience in entry-level fund-raising positions is required.

Most grant coordinators learn their work on the job. Experience in the workplace helps the coordinator locate the best sources of grants funding and learn the best ways to pursue those sources. For example, if the ideals of a foundation match the intent of the grant coordinator's agency, an ongoing relationship may develop between the agency and the foundation. The grant coordinator learns about these connections in the day-to-day work.

Grant coordinators must be detail oriented and have good administrative skills. Good communication skills are essential. They work with a wide range of people and must express themselves easily. Coordinators direct and supervise others, so they must be comfortable in management situations. They should be able to influence and persuade others, including their associates and foundation employees. The more grant coordinators and writers understand about the operations of the foundations that they will be applying to, the more successful they will be in writing the grant proposals and securing the requested funding. Grant coordinators and writers must also work well under pressure. There are deadlines to meet, and the responsibility for meeting those deadlines falls squarely on their shoulders. The financial pressure on an organization that does not receive an expected grant can be enormous, and the grant coordinator may bear the responsibility for the loss.