Artificial Intelligence and Grants. Will it Work?

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Written by Chelsea Adams

No doubt you’ve heard of artificial intelligence writing tools like ChatGPT, Jasper, and Rytr. These tools allow you to enter a phrase, question, or subject and the AI robot returns a written result.

Easy peasy, right? Maybe. But artificial intelligence isn’t the end-all, be-all it’s cracked up to be. At least not yet.

The technology has been lauded by many, but others are cautioning AI writers are moving too fast and without adequate regulation.

Copywriters are rightfully concerned for the future of their craft, even if AI can’t mimic the richness of human creativity. And, AI seems poised to further dumb down the written word and allow unsubstantiated, often incorrect, information to be published ad nauseum.  

How do AI writers work?

These tools take what’s already published on the web and repackage it into another paragraph.

As one writer who discovered the perils of AI-generated content put it, “ChatGPT, like all AI text generation technologies, is very good at eating content, mixing it up into a blender, then spitting it back out into a new form.”

For example, if you ask ChatGPT “What is heart failure?” the tool would lift content from websites that rank highest in search engine results and reconfigure the information into a new piece. In this example, the information would likely come from sources like American Heart Association, Mayo Clinic and Johns Hopkins University.

If you’re writing about a highly complex topic with limited reputable sources, the results may be inaccurate or taken out of context. Therefore, if you’re not familiar with a subject, you could publish false or misleading information because you trusted a robot’s research.

Before we spend too much time discussing the merits and pitfalls of AI writing tools, what does the technology mean for grant writers? Can AI write grants?

AI and grants

The folks over at seem to think AI can write grants. This platform promises to write your grant proposals, fundraising communications, and appeal letters 10X faster “so you can really connect with supporters.”

It’s likely that the tool can write thank you letters, emails and social media fodder. But it can’t write even the simplest of grant proposals.

Here’s why.

AI writing tools can’t start from scratch with a new idea or concept. If the information doesn’t already exist – either on the web or information you input – AI text generators won’t be able to regurgitate the content into a new form.

That’s because AI doesn’t think. It doesn’t reason. It just spins existing content into a new form.

And that’s why it won’t work for grant proposals.

Grant proposals are too specific, too nuanced, and too dependent on the parameters laid out by the grant-making entity.

Plus, grant proposals must be persuasive while carefully balancing the funder’s requirements. They  must be well-researched with quantifiable statistics and real-world examples. This is not the place for generalities or vague assumptions.

What’s more, grant proposals must read like they were written for a human. While AI writing tools can produce content that’s close to natural human language, it’s far from exact. The content is usually mundane and lacks the heart needed to elevate a grant proposal above the rest.

You also must consider your audience: humans. AI-generator content, whether for a grant or a blog post, isn’t interesting to read. That may be Ok when it’s a 500 article about your favorite dog breed, but a 5,000-word grant proposal written in this vein will be monotonous for a human reviewer to read. They will lose interest.

And if those aren’t enough reasons, imagine trying to use AI to negotiate the clunky processes and submission engines created by federal and state governments. It seems like an exercise in futility if you ask us.

Straight from the horse’s mouth

Am I being too pessimistic out of fear for my livelihood?

To answer the question, I went straight to the source – ChatGPT – and asked “Can AI be used to write grants.” Here’s exactly what it said.

“Yes, AI can be used to write grants. AI algorithms can be trained on examples of successful grant proposals, and then be used to generate new proposals based on the input they receive. However, it is important to note that AI is not capable of understanding the context and nuances of grant writing, and the proposals generated may still require significant editing and revision by a human grant writer.”

And there you have it. Grants require people. Period.

Learn to write grants

Instead of relying on AI, learn to write grants yourself. Yes, grants are time consuming and complicated, but learning how to write a well-reasoned proposal is a skill worth having. Start with our online, self-paced course that teaches you how to write grants faster and with more confidence so you can do more, better.



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