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Grants & AI: The New Normal

Grants & AI: The New Normal

New technological advances can be awe inspiring. From solar and wind power, to flying cars and the Internet, countless ways are created and used to advance humanity. In the world of grantmaking, changes are inevitable as the funding landscape continues to shift. Nonprofits are investigating new strategies to help meet the changing needs of people in their communities.  One of the most recent technological advances is being discussed to potentially assist the grant community to accomplish objectives faster. But does it really?

What is Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI), is the ability of a digital computer or computer-controlled robot to perform tasks commonly associated with intelligent beings (Britannica, 2023). When systems are developed, it’s designed to continue to grow and be enhanced with the intellectual characteristics of people in mind, like the ability to reason and learn from past experience. As we continue to see growth in the nonprofit realm, automation and artificial intelligence will increase in popularity as we determine how and when to ethically use it to help organizations increase their productivity while focusing on serving their communities and mission.

How AI affects the Grants Community

When you think of tools used to help with any process, you want it to be 1) easy to use and 2) provide value to make and/or assist with what you are currently doing easier/less time consuming. Anybody who has written grants can confirm that the grant application can take anywhere from a few hours to 50-60 hours, depending on the funder, type of grant, and requirements. In my most recent Grantegy class, I purposely tested the viability of ChatGPT to help create a sample budget and corresponding budget narrative. Here are three things that I noticed it’s capable of doing:

  • Help with basic and/or general narrative content
  • Edit and proofread content
  • Provide additional suggestions and/or ideas for content

Even with the content that was created, I still had to review and do a lot of editing. However, it did provide me with a starting point similar to a framework. Ultimately, the goal of ChatGPT is to “generate text based on patterns and structures it learns from input data. By providing it with information about a specific project or organization, it can help answer questions and generate text for grant applications (Leonard, 2023).

One of the things that we’ve noticed with AI writing tools like ChatGPT is that if the information doesn’t already exist, content can’t be further created or generated that would be useful in the grant development profession.

Ethical or Unethical?

While there seems to be differing opinions on the use of AI in grant writing, one of the bigger concerns is that content that has been generated has proven to be false and lacked proper references and/or sources. Grant professionals using AI should try to determine if using AI is part of their organizational strategy.  Will AI assisted grant applications meet all of the application criteria and tell a compelling story? Is the quality of an AI written proposal going to be evaluated differently vs.proposals written by people? Are we abiding by the Code of Ethics if we utilize this technology? Check out the GPA’s Statement on the use of AI here.

There are still plenty of unanswered questions, yet despite the continued advances, there really are no programs that can fully match human experiences coupled with intelligence, especially in regards to tasks that require everyday knowledge like grant writing. We should be cautious before overwhelmingly accepting. At the same time we can use this as a tool to help and guide us in the present and future. Let’s not automatically think that we’re going to be taken over as if we’re in an I, Robot movie, but let’s address and adapt our methods accordingly – productively and ethically.

The Grant Professionals Association (GPA) recently provided some guidance on the use of AI. Grant Consulting Services, LLC is a proud member of the GPA and abides by its code of ethics.  


Artificial Intelligence. (2023) Retrieved from

Grant Professionals Association. (2023). GPA Statement on The GPA Code of Ethics and Artificial Intelligence – June 2023. Website:

Leonard, Christopher. (2023, May 11). AI Technology for Grant Writing: Proposed rules for academic funding. Retrieved from

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