Madeleine Keogh, ’15, is an associate grant writer for WHYY.
I work in the fundraising department writing grants that seek to secure funding for WHYY and its programs from local and national foundations.
What led you to a career in grant writing?
When working in the Writing Center at Saint Joseph’s University, a fellow tutor mentioned to me that she volunteered with a non-profit organization in North Philadelphia writing grants. Someone had told me about careers in grant writing before, but I hadn’t really thought about it since then. I asked her if they were in need of more volunteers, and she said that they were. I began volunteering, and soon after that, started looking for jobs as a grant writer.
Could you describe what goes in to writing grants?
When non-profit organizations seek funding for their programs, they will write a grant proposal. In this proposal you justify the need for the money you are asking for by describing the program, the positive impact the program has on society, how you measure that impact, and the like. A proposal could be anywhere from a single page to 100 pages. Grant writing is not only writing, but also a lot of talking with people in the affected community. You meet with people all day long as a spokesperson representing the work you’re doing.
What is your favorite aspect of your job?
When someone has a new idea and we have to flesh out the program. It’s interesting to see how a project idea comes to fruition in the real world.
If someone requests a grant, what does that process look like?
It varies based on who the grant is being written for. If it’s a corporation, they express that they’re interested in funding, and they have guidelines in place about doing so. We then see if any of our programs match their descriptions. If we find something that fits, then we work with other members of the organization to develop a budget and an idea. Then we write the grant that attempts to get them to agree that this is an opportunity and say, “yes, we should fund this.” We process the grant and get the program going. Later on, we have to report on that grant. This process could vary from grants that take an entire year to execute, to a one-page grant that someone is already interested in funding.
What did you find most helpful in college that prepared you for your job?
Internships. That is one of the most important things you can do as a college student because it gives you experience to talk about when you apply for jobs and go in for interviews. It also helps you determine if it’s something that you want to pursue as a career path. I always thought that I would be an editor. After volunteering at the non-profit organization in Philly, I saw that grant writing was something that I would actually enjoy doing as a career. In my position now, I still get to edit, it’s just a different type of editing.
Click here for more information about the internship opportunities offered in multiple departments, such as education and media, at WHYY.
—Brittany Swift ’20