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The AI Revolution is Here! What Does That Mean for Your Grant Program?

Updated: Sep 29, 2023

AI Revolution

Lately, it seems like every time I open social media or go to look at the news, and I see something about a breakthrough in AI. These range from useful tools like ChatGPT to innovations that could disrupt industries and change the nature of people’s jobs.

And, of course, there are the stories that make me not want to watch The Terminator out of fear it will make the leap from science fiction to documentary.

While The Rise of Machines isn’t likely to happen, the dawn of AI will touch every job and sector. The emerging technology will touch every one of us and transform our work in ways we probably can’t imagine right now.

And yes, you guessed it, that includes us as fundraisers.

There are already tools emerging that can help with a range of projects, from writing appeal letters to building basic email campaigns. AI-generated grant applications will become a reality sooner rather than later, and we need to be prepared to integrate those tools into our work effectively.

This does not mean AI will replace fundraisers or fully automate any aspect of a successful grant program. Rather, it will make the human users of the technology more able to do the important work of fundraising: building relationships.

Technology can remove barriers, but a successful grant program is built on relationships. It’s up to us as human beings responsible for fundraising to embrace emerging technology to make our work more streamlined and effective.

That’s easier said than done, of course. We’ll have a lot to learn over the next few years, but as AI finds its way into your grant program, here are some predictions and areas of preparation to keep in mind:

Areas of preparation to keep in mind

  • Details will be more important than ever: A good grant writer will always strive to submit a flawless application. Emerging technology will make that easier in some ways, but with a catch. While AI will be able to help gather and synthesize data, the person proofreading and finalizing the application will have to review everything with a fine-toothed comb to ensure accuracy. If an AI tool misinterprets outcomes or provides inaccurate data, it could sink a funding application and jeopardize a funding relationship.

  • Relationships will continue to define grant funding: Think it’s hard to land a grant from a new funder now? Just wait until organizations are using AI tools to scale up and submit more applications to prospective funders. Program Officers may be inundated with funding applications and unable to give every AI-generated application on their desk a full review. What is the way around that? If that Program Officer knows you, your organization, and the program that seeks funding. A familiar person on the other side of that application will make your proposal stand out from others.

  • It will be easy to get overwhelmed: Want a fun exercise? Go to ChatGPT and ask for funding prospects for your organization. Then ask for 10 more…and 10 more…and you’ll probably be able to keep going forever. Its feedback will be exciting and frustrating at the same time. While the prospect of having a machine deliver instant feedback on funding prospects is exciting, a strong grant program prioritizes quality over quantity. You’ll need to be able to take those prospects and understand their “why” before building a relationship and applying for funding. AI can do some great preliminary work, but a seasoned grant professional will be essential as you turn that data into funding momentum.

  • AI will not be a silver bullet: Some organizations will look to AI as reducing staffing needs and bringing down the fundraising line item in their budget. While AI will make some processes easier, using AI as a justification to reduce staffing will further burden fundraising staff and put your organization at a competitive disadvantage. The organizations that thrive during the AI revolution will be those that prioritize relationships; it takes people to do that, and continuing to invest in people will drive results.

Team Kat & Mouse prides itself on being Grant Consultants rather than Grant Writers because writing should be the easiest aspect of your grant program. The pieces differentiating successful organizations will be the same after AI use becomes widespread: relationships, creativity, and attention to detail. I’m excited to see AI remove barriers so grant professionals and their organizations can focus more on the key details that will lay the groundwork for long-term funding relationships.

No matter where you are with your grant program or your thoughts on AI, we’re here to help! Drop us a line and schedule a free consultation to learn how we can help.

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