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Most employers require grant coordinators to have a bachelor's degree, strong writing skills and some experience or training in fund-raising. It is possible to become a grant coordinator without a four-year degree, particularly if you take a job with a young nonprofit organization. The more reputable the employer, however, the more likely it is that the job will require an undergraduate degree. Grant coordinating can be an entry-level position, as it is often a catch-all title that is typically used in fund-raising offices that do not have a multi-pronged development approach.
Fund-raising, also called development, is a unique discipline with a non-uniform staffing structure. Organizations that employ fund-raising staff tend to modify titles and job descriptions based upon the organization's particular needs. For example, an organization that uses the grants coordinator title might be looking for someone to act as a one-person director of fund-raising, with grant coordinating as the primary duty. Another organization might define the grants coordinator as a low-level associate who reports to a director of corporate and foundation relations and a director or vice president of development. The scope of the grants coordinator position is typically tied to the size and prestige of the hiring organization.
Grant coordinators can also be hired on the grant-making side. Corporations and private foundations hire coordinators to manage the process of accepting grant applications and making awards. To become a grant coordinator on either side of the funding equation, your credentials will have to match the sophistication of the development operation.
Small, local organizations typically have limited resources and will hire a grant coordinator who demonstrates the ability to do the job. In some instances, working for a startup or cash-strapped organization and demonstrating the ability to successfully manage the grant process will provide enough leverage to catapult you into grant coordinating as a career, even without a bachelor's degree. One of the most important aspects of managing grants is your success ratio in obtaining awards. If you can demonstrate a practical ability to do the job and pair it with some development training, it can often be enough for you to succeed in this position with certain types of organizations.
Training for grant coordinators is offered by community colleges, nonprofit and for-profit companies and trade associations for fund-raising professionals. The trade associations, in particular, offer a credentialing program that can add heft to your grant coordinator application. Generally, however, completing any coursework that outlines the grant application and awards process will help you become a grant coordinator.
If you want to become a grant coordinator for foundations, corporations or for prestigious national or international organizations with significant operating budgets, you will need a bachelor's degree. There is no specific degree requirement for the position, but most employers prefer majors that hone your writing, communications or business management skills. Alternatively, you can obtain a degree in a major that relates to the organization's mission.