Melissa Draut: Grant Writing That Matters

Like many of us, Melissa Draut left the corporate world and found her dream job doing work that makes a difference in the lives of others. As a Grant Writer, Melissa has built a business based on her past experience and the desire to do meaningful work as an entrepreneur.

You are in the grant writing business; tell us a little bit about what you do and what a typical day might look like.

I help non-profit organizations raise funds for their programs by writing and researching grants. A big part of what I do is to help identify what foundations are the right funding prospects for the organization’s program. That part of the job involves using databases, research and talking to people at foundations to see where we might have a fit for possible funding.

A typical morning may be writing a grant, researching leads and calling foundation contacts.  Since the job is so “head” oriented, I work out at lunch and actually get some of my best ideas when I am lap swimming. The afternoon could be spent meeting with a client, heading to the post office to mail a grant package or interviewing a program manager to get details for an upcoming grant.

How did you come up with the idea to go into business on your own?

I was very resistant to running my own business after leaving the corporate world. I figured I would freelance for a while, and then return to the next job somewhere. Well, one thing led to another, and I ended up with five clients and enough revenue to sustain myself. After going through rounds of corporate layoffs, I think this is more secure financially since my livelihood is not dependent on one source.

What do you love about grant writing and working for yourself?

I love being a grant writer for my clients because I am truly passionate about the mission of these organizations. From promoting financial self-sufficiency for domestic violence survivors to ensuring talented students have visual art education, I am working in the middle of some exciting solutions that address community needs.

I like working for myself because I have a healthy workplace and a good boss. I’m also lucky that my IT expert husband has supported me every step of the way with technology recommendations and set up so I can work effectively and efficiently.

What do you wish you had known before starting your own business?

That it really isn’t as hard as you think it might be. I thought running my business would be such a hassle, and it really isn’t once you get systems in place. Sure, it took me awhile to figure what to do with taxes, bank accounts and office equipment, but I learned to ask and hire experts for help instead of trying to figure everything out myself.

I bet others say this – I would have jumped into this sooner had I known how much I would thrive doing this work.

What advice do you have for women who are seeking to leave the corporate world and work from home?

My advice to women and men who are considering a change from the corporate scene to their own world: have confidence that you can learn something new. Review your track record – if you’ve been successful in doing new projects and reaching goals for someone else, you can do it for yourself and your new clients.

Find Melissa at

About Laura Harbolt

Laura's passion is helping women succeed in small business. With years of sales and teaching experience she will help you create a meaningful business so you can make money and make a difference.