Learning Grant Writing as a Beginner
Alexis Swenson first learned about grant writing while working as a Development Coordinator for a nonprofit organization. Her boss walked into her office one day and asked if she wanted to learn. Alexis knew nothing about grant writing—only that it was likely a great skill to learn. Her answer was an easy yes.
“It was an incredible opportunity. With the help of a seasoned grant writer from another organization, we won the first grant I ever worked on. I pretty much took over all grant writing for the remaining 2 ½ years I worked there,” said Alexis.
As Alexis considered what she wanted her life to look like as her and her husband planned to grow their family, she decided to launch her own business and pursue that as her primary work. She wanted a flexible schedule, the ability to work from home, to make decent money, and work that could be scaled part-time to full-time and vice versa depending on the season. She founded Goods of a Soul and began offering copywriting, ghost writing, and grant writing services. The first six months of starting out was slow and she realized there was room for improvement in her grant writing skills.
“I first bought Meredith’s book, then signed up for the course, and almost immediately joined the team to write grants and blog posts for Learn Grant Writing. I’ve learned a ton about grant writing from saying yes to each of those adventures,” said Alexis.
Grant Writing Community Increased Confidence
For Alexis, being involved with a community of like-minded individuals has been a huge confidence booster in more ways than one. Not to mention, she finally feels like she has co-workers again! Not having co-workers and working from home alone was a difficult adjustment when she first started her business.
“Every single one of my clients has been a referral, which I really like. First, referrals were coming from my nonprofit network. Since joining the Global Grant Writers Collective, I’ve received several referrals through the community—whether taking over contracts for a fellow Unicorn or being referred when a fellow Unicorn isn’t taking on new clients,” said Alexis.
The community has also been great at instilling confidence to go after intimidating contracts. Alexis was encouraged to apply for a large out of state contract with a client she had worked with before through the Learn Grant Writing team. Instantly, she dealt with imposter syndrome. She knew the opportunity could be huge for her, but she was still scared of what work might be required from it—hiring a team, improved project management, time requirements, and possibility of failure.
Alexis’s strategy was to “act like she belonged” in the pile of proposals. She submitted her proposal with guidance from folks in the Collective, including some who agreed to be on her team if she won the contract. She ultimately did not win the contract, but reached out to the client for feedback.
“Asking for feedback is crucial. I knew only good things could happen from doing so. I learned more about what the client is looking for, how to improve my proposal for next time, and that they will be publishing another Request for Proposals in a few months. I plan to try again,” said Alexis.
Proudest Moment as a Grant Writer
Throughout her experience with Learn Grant Writing, Alexis is most proud of and grateful for all the people she’s been able to work with. She loves the exposure to different cultures and communities. She directly attributes these opportunities including working with tribes in remote Alaska to her participation in the Collective.
Alexis was more than a little jazzed when two Housing and Urban Development Healthy Homes grants she was lead writer on for remote Alaskan tribal communities were awarded in full—a whopping $1.3 million dollars. To date, she’s helped organizations secure over $2.2 million dollars to help them keep doing their good work.
“I have connections with clients and grant writers from all across the United States. I have colleagues in multiple time zones—it’s amazing! I don’t think I would ever have been able to make that happen on my own,” said Alexis.
If you’d like to become a grant writing unicorn, check out our free training on how to build a career in grant writing.
Thoughts on Learn Grant Writing
“The curriculum is top-notch," Alexis said. "I've learned so much about how to be a better writer, project manager, and business owner. I've even hired others in the Collective to help with my projects as my business has grown! The LGW community has been refreshing, encouraging, and critical to my success."
After regularly contributing to Learn Grant Writing by writing blog posts for over a year, Alexis joyfully joined the team as a part-time employee to serve in the capacity of Unicorn Coach & Content Director. She provides coaching and mentorship to the community, oversees much of the written content on the website and in inboxes, and assists members of the Collective earn their grant writer certification.
“It has been such a pleasure to work with and for this team,” Alexis said. “I’m amazed by how the support I’ve received from LGW has really turned my grant writing consulting business into a strong foundation to operate from.”
Alexis and her husband welcomed their daughter into the world in 2021. She had planned ahead and worked hard to be able to take a full three month long maternity leave (while still paying herself her regular salary!).
“Everything they say is true—having a little one is so fun and so hard,” Alexis said. “I’m proud to say that my business has offered us everything we hoped it would. I have a flexible schedule, can spend lots of time with my daughter, and my business is in a solid place financially.”
Moreover, Alexis’s husband is in the process of launching his own paintless dent repair business, Swenson Dent Company.
“My flexible schedule allowed by entrepreneurship really appealed to John and he wanted to create more of that for our whole family,” Alexis said. “It is exciting my business has inspired and supported this shift for our family.”
How to Make a Career Change and Become a Grant Writer
If you are wondering about how to make a career change or how to become a grant writer, check out our free training on how to build a career in grant writing.
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