There it was – Document 1 – staring back at me.
Just a sad and empty unnamed page. Sound familiar?
If only this blog would write itself. Time to take ChatGPT out for a spin.
OK robot, show me what you’ve got.
“Write me a chatty introduction to a blog about caution when using ChatGPT in grant writing”.
And just like that, my little robot friend starts generating text. The result? See for yourself…
“Hey there, fellow grant seekers! Welcome to our cozy corner of the internet, where we’re about to embark on a chat-filled adventure all about using ChatGPT wisely for grant applications. Grab a cup of your favorite beverage and get ready to dive into the world of virtual assistance and its potential pitfalls.”
Are there some useable ideas in there? Sure. Is it a wee bit cheesy and not particularly well written? You bet. (Don’t even get me started on the American spelling….).
Therein lies the cautionary tale about using ChatGPT for grants
In case you haven’t tried it out yet, ChatGPT is an artificial intelligence chatbot, developed by a company called OpenAI, headquartered in San Francisco.
(Fun fact: Mark Zuckerberg is the largest shareholder of OpenAI, retaining ownership and control.)
So, what does an artificial intelligence chatbot do?
Essentially, it’s a computer program that’s designed to have a conversation with you, answer questions and generate text based on input.
The big question is – can this sassy robot friend write your grant application? In our experience here at team SG, the answer is no, but it can help, when used wisely.
We called in some academic advice….
It was time to check in with Dr Ruth Knight at QUT’s Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies (ACPNS) to get her take on it all.
“AI is a hot topic and it’s certainly been discussed a lot here at ACPNS. In particular we have been thinking about whether it can be used by fundraisers and grant writers,” said Ruth.
“AI-powered tools like ChatGPT can do things like analyse previous grant applications and suggest shorter versions (helpful if you have limited word counts).”
Ruth’s top tips for grant writers
- You can prompt ChatGPT to respond to particular questions. For example, try prompting ChatGPT with how could I respond to a grant application question about how I will evaluate my project?
- Don’t be tempted to simply copy and paste what ChatGPT replies to you though! You must take what it says as ideas and make it appropriate for your program and your organisation. That is, whatever tactics you include for say, a response about evaluating your outcomes, you must have the capacity and intention to carry them out when it comes time to report back to your funder.
- ChatGPT is also good for language suggestions and ideas about how to research local issues. For example, if you were submitting a request for funding for homelessness services in your local area, you could prompt it with: what services exist in South Brisbane specifically to provide accommodation and health care for teenage girls experiencing homelessness?”
- ChatGPT might be able to help you find the data or research you are looking for, if that is what you need in your application. Be aware though, AI is fraught with ethical issues, and it is not always right!
- Tread carefully and cautiously, and don’t trust anything it says. Check and double check what it tells you. Never simply copy and paste as the answers could be either incorrect or lacking specifics which the grant maker is looking for.
The Do’s and Don’ts of using ChatGPT for your grants
To help you navigate this AI minefield, Team SG’s Grants Strategists have put together a list (*by no means infinite) of do’s and don’ts when it comes to ChatGPT and your grant applications:
- Don’t use ChatGPT to write your entire application. The best grant applications are always a balance of heart and head (something a robot can’t replicate).
- Don’t presume fancy words can compensate for a poorly planned project. Funders want to see that your project is structured well, with achievable, measurable objectives that come from your organisation’s rich understanding of the beneficiaries.
- Don’t rely on ChatGPT as a source – while it may appear to know all, ChatGPT does not detect bias, and can be inaccurate. Never cite ChatGPT as an external source and always check its claims against reputable sources.
- Do think of ChatGPT as your handy personal assistant, rather than your writer. Use it to brainstorm, edit, and summarise your drafts.
- Do stick to best practice when it comes to your grants program: here at SG we’ve seen time and time again that an application is only part of the recipe for grants success. Always try to make person-to-person connections with funders.
- Do remember you are the best placed to provide context for your organisation. People give to people, and grant funders want to understand the need for funding from a human perspective. That is, quotes and case studies from your beneficiaries provide great demonstrable evidence of the impact you are making.
In summary, we asked ChatGPT for something different.
“Write me a conclusion to a blog about using caution when using ChatGPT as a grant-seeker, in the style of Dr Seuss.”
In this blog we’ve learned, oh yes indeed,
About using GPT with great care, we must heed.
Grant applications are serious and grand,
But GPT’s limitations we must understand.
So be mindful of GPT’s wondrous powers,
But remember, it’s humans who make the hours.
Blend technology with wisdom and smarts,
And craft grant applications that win the hearts.
Not sure if your grant applications are hitting the mark? Strategic Grants can support with grant writing, critiquing and key message development. https://www.strategicgrants.com.au/services/grant-writing-application-reviews/