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Grant Writing With AI

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AI Grant Writing: Is It the Future?

Grant applications can be a daunting task even for experienced writers, but can artificial intelligence (AI) make grant writing a breeze? In this article, I’ll discuss current and emerging AI tools, explore the ethics of using AI for grant writing, and share some tips on how to harness this powerful technology.

The tools discussed will be mostly generative AI and large language models (LLMs) such as ChatGPT. Be sure to read to the end to get a summary of my personal experiences and some practical use-cases for you to try. Let’s go.

AI tools made for grant writing

With AI-enhanced software becoming more widespread, AI tools specifically designed for grant writing are emerging. To get a feel for how they work, I took a quick tour of Grantable, an AI tool for grant writers.

My initial impressions of Grantable are that it offers a neat workspace and a searchable archive for quick retrieval of information about organisations and projects. This functionality seems geared towards grant writers who regularly generate applications on behalf of an organisation (such as those writing grants for NFPs).

Being a specialist tool means Grantable has some limitations versus the broad capabilities of ChatGPT. For this reason, I think ChatGPT (or its equivalents from Google or Bing), offers the most benefits for grant specialists for writing competitive grant applications, so it is the focus of this article.

How can grant professionals use ChatGPT?

There are many practical ways to use ChatGPT in a grant writing workflow, including generating first drafts of responses, brainstorming ideas, creating frameworks and summarising large parcels of information. Next are some examples of how I’ve personally used the tool.

ChatGPT for grant writing: 8 practical uses

Here are some grant writing activities that you can try testing an AI with:

  1. Generating project title ideas
  2. Creating a project summary draft
  3. Distilling datasets into insights and bullet points
  4. Creating frameworks for grant responses
  5. Generating content that is close to a target word count
  6. Rapidly gaining the most important knowledge about a topic
  7. Summarising meeting transcripts to extract key points
  8. Generating content for a Letter of Support.

GrantHelper Pro Tip
Assume that any data you enter into ChatGPT will be forever stored by OpenAI, and be careful what you feed the machine.
 

Is it ethical to use AI to write grants?

This is a nuanced topic, and the answer is, it depends. It depends how you use the AI, and how you communicate with clients and stakeholders. If you use an AI to churn out an application as quickly as possible without proper oversight and quality control, or you are misleading clients as to how their submissions are created, then that would be considered unethical by many, myself included.

On the other hand, if you’re using AI to help you do produce better quality work, and you’re not misleading anyone about doing so, then it begs the question as to why this would be unethical.

My personal experiences with AI grant writing

AI Meeting summaries

My first foray into AI was with Otter AI meeting assistant, and I wasn’t blown away. I often found inconsistencies in its output, and I was still spending time combing through notes and making corrections, so I moved away from Otter after just a few weeks.

Since then, I have found good results with the Fireflies meeting assistant, including precise transcriptions and insightful meeting summaries. (Note: I have no affiliations to any products discussed here, these are my own views and opinions).

Writing grant applications

I have tested ChatGPT extensively and have found that it can provide many practical benefits and productivity gains. The tool complements my emotional intelligence and 10+ years of experience with grant programs — it doesn’t replace them. Using ChatGPT, I can quickly produce workable ‘clay’ content, to be improved and finished. I can create structures and frameworks to be filled out much faster than if I did it manually.

However, I’ve also found that for most tasks (summarising information notwithstanding) the tool is only as good as its inputs; well-crafted prompts give good results, but if you are lazy or unskilled at prompting, you can expect dull, generic content in return.

Another limitation is that AI doesn’t offer the soft skills which are so key to making a grant application stand out from the pack. For example, ChatGPT cannot negotiate an adjustment to a project scope, or develop a relationship with a funding body for a deeper understanding of an opportunity, or conduct a holistic critical review of all content for your peace of mind. But a good grant writer can do all this and much more.

GrantHelper Pro Tip
Risk assessment:  Overwriting the Ai generated draft is key. Consider it a framework that has assembled information for you to personalise to the circumstances, incorporating the emotional,  the rational and the specific strategies of relevance. 
 

Wrap-Up

Used judiciously and with a clear strategy, I have found AI tools to significantly boost my productivity and expedite the completion of specific tasks. This in turn enables me to strive to deliver more strategic value as a grants consultant.

My recommendation for grant seekers is to approach these tools with the mindset of complementing and enhancing your own capabilities. I do not recommend viewing an AI as a replacement for an experienced professional.

I am certain that the AI landscape will keep evolving, so be sure to stay connected to GrantHelper for more tips and guidance as we continue to explore AI and share our findings.

Key takeaways and recommendations

  • Do not rely on AI to produce a ready-made result
  • Use AI as a catalyst: make a prompt start on responses, and make a big dent in time-consuming tasks
  • AI can be a great partner to bounce ideas off: chat with it as you would another human
  • ChatGPT and other AIs often do not provide sources. They may provide misleading outputs or even false information, so exercise caution and always check facts
  • Think of your AI as a skilled assistant rather than a fully fledged writer
  • Generative AI is going to make the grants landscape even more competitive. Don’t get complacent or think ‘AI can do it’; consider instead how this technology can create more time for strategic thinking and ensuring you create the strongest possible application.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there an AI that can write grant submissions?

No, AI is not a suitable replacement for a grant writer. Grant writers can use AI to assist with some tasks but nearly all aspects of the grant writing process still require personal care and attention.

What are the limitations of grant writing AI tools?

An AI or LLM does not have a personality or its own experiences — it can only mimic human behaviours that are taught to it, and create outputs based on statistical probabilities. ChatGPT can summarise information brilliantly, but it doesn’t actually understand context, nuance or meaning; these are human traits that are key to effective grant writing.

Resources and help to get a grant

There are many more grants available—check out our finding grants article if you want to get better at discovering grants.

Our Insights showcase some of the grant-winning methods we employ at GrantHelper, and they will help you create a stronger grant application. But no matter how well prepared you are, winning grants takes time—something we know many business owners and directors just don’t have. And that’s why we’re here to help.

GrantHelper can assist with your organisation’s next grant application, no matter what stage of the funding journey you’re at.

I need help applying for grants

Check out our How to Prepare Before You Apply insight to help you reduce the stress levels when you apply for a grant.

Check out our How to write a successful grant application to learn some time-saving tips to make the grant writing process easier.

Our in-depth eBook is the single most valuable resource you will find that helps organisations to truly understand how to win government grants.

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Download our eBook to discover grant-winning secrets

Our free eBook features 10 chapters of expert advice, professional tips and more to help you do better with grants, whether you’re new to the process or you’ve applied before.

Get your copy of the Guide to Winning Grants now.

Is your business eligible for this government grant? Or perhaps you’re not sure and want to know more?

GrantHelper offers a range of government grant services, helping businesses of all sizes to discover, apply for, and win the best grant opportunities. We can help you with anything from finding the right grants, to writing your application, formulating an ongoing grant strategy, and more.

Get started now by filling in the form below, or tap the ‘Book a Discovery Call’ button to schedule a no-obligation virtual meeting with an experienced government grants consultant.

Check out some of the clients we’ve helped and what they had to say about us.

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What's on my mind

Hi, I’m Steve Dowling – founder of GrantHelper. I’m a former champion of marketing and export business development turned business builder.

I do a lot of thinking and reading around grants, strategy, and funding. I send a monthly newsletter with what’s on my mind on this stuff.

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