Is a Grant Writing Certificate Worth It?
“Should I get a grant writing certificate?” is a question you may have asked yourself this past year.
2020 left many people searching for options in their careers. Scrolling through job postings, it is clear there is a market for freelance grant writers. There seems to be a plethora of grants to be awarded with a dearth of those able to write the submissions.
In this article, we’ll answer the question of whether or not you need to be certified to write grants, why these certifications exist, as well as explore some grant course options you may find valuable to explore further.
By the end, you’ll be able to answer whether or not a grant writing certificate is right for you.
Let’s dig in.
Is a Grant Writing Certificate Worth It?
Deciding if a grant writing certificate is worth the time and money has many facets. And, like any continuing education or effort to advance your marketability, it is important to consider both the potential dividends and drawbacks to investing your time and money to acquire this certificate.
Identifying your personal goals for why you are considering getting a grant writing certificate is an important first step to deciding if it is worth the effort. Assessing how your current education, skill, and understanding aligns with those goals also will help decide if a grant writing certificate is the right choice for you.
It is important to determine what the certification will offer in advancing your career or your job opportunities. There are many elements to consider when making your decision, and you may want to ask yourself the following four questions:
- How much time do you have to dedicate to acquiring your grant writing certificate? And what is your budget?
- What are your career goals that may be advanced by having a grant writing certificate?
- What do you already know about grant writing?
- What do you hope to learn from a grant writing certification program?
As you consider these questions, knowing if a grant writing certificate is worth it for you should come into focus.
Do Grant Writers Need to Be Certified?
The short answer: no.
Becoming a grant writer does not require any formal certification or specific degree. Most organizations and companies looking for grant writing support are looking for the skill and knowledge of grant writing, not a certificate.
In fact, most postings for grant writing do not list a certification under any of the expected qualifications.
Most job postings for grant writing list qualifications such as:
- Knowledge of best practices in grant writing
- Understanding of grant and request for proposal processes
- Strong writing and interpersonal skills
- Familiarity with budgets and budget documents
- Experience writing grant proposals
Some nonprofit organizations will also ask for familiarity with their particular industry; however, that is not listed as often. The most common needs tend to fall with knowledge of government grants or having a background understanding of nonprofits. A good grant writer can write for any organization and any project.
With the right tools, any grant writer can find good fit funders for a particular project. Instrumentl can be helpful when identifying good fit funders for grant writers of any experience level.
Why Do Grant Writing Certifications Exist?
So, if most companies don’t ask for a certification, why do you see so many options to get one? Grant writing certifications aren’t necessarily a complete waste of time or money.
For many starting out in grant writing, these certifications can offer much needed grant writing training and skill development. Many courses offer a variety of resources and information on how to write grant proposals. There are technical components to grant writing strategy that certification programs cover as well.
You may find that completing a grant writing certification also provides a small edge in your listed qualifications when compared to others that might apply. Additionally, some certificate programs will focus on specific types of grants.
For example, if you intend to work primarily in the government sector, having a program that supports learning more about government grants could help hone your skills. If you are looking at non-profits or other specific industries, you can find similar options available.
There are also more robust and comprehensive programs to earn a grant writing certificate that cover a broad spectrum of information. Many of these programs are offered through colleges and universities on a semester or annual schedule and can be taken for higher education credit in addition to your certification. These grant writing programs will provide a much broader scope of learning.
Accredited Grant Writing Certifications vs. Other Certifications
Deciding to improve your skill and knowledge of grant writing by obtaining your grant writing certificate may be a step that propels you forward in your career. If you decide to take this route, you might consider exploring the options for certification. Some programs are accredited while others are not.
Deciding if accreditation matters to you hinges on identifying your goals for acquiring the certification in the first place.
Consider the following justifications for completing your grant writing certification:
- Jobs you are exploring require or prefer the certification
- You have no prior experience in grant writing (and learn better with structured curriculum)
- Prior grant work has not resulted in awarded grant funding
Any of these three reasons may have you looking for an accredited or more comprehensive grant writing certification.
Some examples of these longer duration and more highly regarded, accredited grant writing certification programs are:
1. Harvard Online Grant Certification Course, $2,900
The Harvard Online Grant Certification Course is a program that often comes up when searching for grant certification programs. This course is highly esteemed and recognized. It carries the prestigious Harvard institution backing, proving it likely to stand out on resumes. It is a full term course, requiring multiple weeks and enrollment in one of a few Harvard extension school programs.
2. American Grant Writer’s Association, $999 for series
The American Grant Writer’s Association is really a hub of information and resources for grant writers, especially beginning grant writers. This is a great online grant writing resource whether you are looking to pursue a grant writing certification or just needing to hone specific skills in grant writing. Their course Certified Grant Writer® Series is quite comprehensive and very popular for those seeking to earn a grant writer’s certification.
3. Fundamentals of Grant Writing, University of Georgia, $124
Colleges and Universities often provide some of the most comprehensive courses for grant writing. This seems reasonable, they are in the industry of education. The Fundamentals of Grant Writing (also known as A-Z Grant Writing) program from the University of Georgia is highly regarded and carries a very reasonable price point.
4. Certified Fund Raising Executive Certification, $875
CFRE cites in their 2020 Compensation and Benefits Report that their certified fundraisers earn on average 7-15% more than their non-certified peers. This certification has both a written application and written examination component. They also provide a handbook detailing requirements and more on their website. They state they are the only ANSI accredited certification for philanthropic fundraising professionals here.
What are Commonly Recognized Grant Writing Certifications or Courses?
So you are thinking that a grant writing certificate might be worth it. Now what? It is important to explore grant writing certification courses and determine what fits best.
Some programs are longer in length like the ones listed above - often those associated with colleges and universities. Some programs can be completed during a lunch break.
There are a variety of other online courses in the case where accredited grant writing certifications are not a requirement in your search.
If for example, you’re looking for more of an online community, you may want to check out some of Instrumentl’s partners’ courses:
- Bev Browning, author of best-selling Grant Writing for Dummies, provides small group classes a few times every year. Check out our free grant workshop on How to Write SMART objectives with Bev here.
- GrantsMagicU, is a tight-knit community led by Maryn Boess, GPA Distinguished Fellow Recipient of 2020. She opens a cohort based class twice a year. Check out our free grant class on How to Get Funder Feedback with Maryn here.
- Holly Rustick, host of the Grant Writing and Funding podcast, offers a grant writing master course, and occasionally teams up with Bev for a collaboration course. Check out our free grant workshop on 7 Tips to Write Grants Like a Pro with Holly here.
- Learn Grant Writing has a grant writing training program with a close-knit community focused on those trying to build their own grant writing business. Check out our free grant training with Meredith on How to Go from 100+ Grants to the Best Fits For You here.
These Instrumentl partners are well-respected in the grant writing community for their years of experience in winning millions in grant funding.
In the case you’re simply looking for more grant training and not necessarily a full-fledged curriculum, you may find our free grant workshops valuable.
Every few weeks, Instrumentl hosts a grant writing educator or expert to teach on a particular topic related to grant writing. Our workshops are free regardless of whether or not you use Instrumentl.
If interested, check out our events calendar here.
Wrapping Things Up: Are Grant Writing Certifications Worth It?
There are many grant writing certificate programs available, both long and short, inexpensive and more pricey. Grant writing certificates are more commonly known amongst grant writers than potential employers. Your ability to express your capacity and understanding of the grant writing process, and prior experience, will be what set you apart. Your time and budget are important, and spending either or both to gain a certificate that is not universally required or recognized may seem a bit of a risk.
So, is a grant writing certificate worth it?
The key to being hired for grant writing is to prove your ability to write grants. If you have a background in writing, especially grant writing, your portfolio will likely build the confidence for employers to hire you. You may seek the certificate programs that hone in on specific types of grant writing rather than a broad survey of the concept.
If you do not have prior experience or knowledge of grant writing, a grant writing certificate program may be worth it to provide the learning and knowledge stack you need to be successful in a grant writing position.
Furthermore, a grant writing certificate may build on your understanding for writing to specific industries or topics. There are many grant writing certification options to choose from, so identify the one that fits your goals, time, and budget.
Ultimately, a grant writing certificate may not help land jobs in all situations, but a grant writing certificate may still be worth it.