Practical Ways to Use AI For Grants

Fundraisers Wrestling With Tech As Giving Plows Forward

You’ve heard that history tends to repeat itself and this also applies to technology. In 1994, the internet sparked both fear and excitement. Fast forward three decades, and perhaps you’re finding yourself both curious and anxious about artificial intelligence or AI. 

According to Margit Brazda Poirier, founder and CEO of Grants4Good, you might not be using AI; most nonprofits aren’t — citing lack of time and concerns about safety, privacy and ethics. Although there is still much work to be done related to these concerns, you can save valuable time and effort now by using generative AI.

To get started, according to Brazda Poirier, you can open an account on any online platform such as ChatGPT or Google Bard, both of which have free versions. Consider these AI platforms as your “assistants,” not as a substitute for your years of knowledge, expertise, and authenticity.

Next, identify tasks that drain your time and energy, and let AI do the work. From prospect research to meeting notetaking, AI can help with routine activities, allowing you to focus on the more strategic aspects of your nonprofit work. 

Here are three practical ways Brazda Poirier suggests for using AI:

#1 Written communications

Are you spending too much time writing letters of inquiry to funders, thank you notes, or email communications with your staff, board or volunteers? Use AI to develop initial drafts quickly but always review and edit content to align with your voice and values.

Try this prompt in ChatGPT: “Write a one-page letter of inquiry to the [foundation] to request $XXXX for [your organization]. We are focused on [your project purpose].”

#2 Find grant opportunities and funding prospects

You can use AI to streamline the time-consuming process of funder research. AI will sift through vast data and generate a list of prospects. But be sure to review and refine results based on your organization’s needs and values. And never enter confidential information into a prompt.

Try this prompt in Google Bard: “Which U.S. private foundations are most likely to fund nonprofit organizations working to [your cause/mission e.g., reduce homelessness] in [your city]?”

#3 Write sections of grant proposals

While AI cannot even come close to replacing your depth of knowledge and experience, it can help you write sections of grant proposals. Ask ChatGPT to create SMART objectives, a needs statement, and performance measures.

Try this prompt in ChatGPT: “Help me develop a clear and concise project description for my grant proposal on [insert your project] in 200 words or less.”

If you need a primer on AI, check out this blog on AI and ChatGPT: What is it and how do I use it?