grant writing

Using Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Writing

AI software is increasingly being used in many areas of writing as more of these tools are developed and improved upon.

Currently, the most effective AI software tools are for editing. And they are getting better and better. But even with a good editing AI tool, a human editor is still needed.

To me, using AI for editing is like when I went from a typewriter to a computer to write. Editing AI tools make my writing clearer, more in line with standard US English practices (i.e. punctuation), and highlights my weaknesses (I have some bad habits). In the competitive world of grant writing or publishing a story, AI can be a benefit like using a computer rather than a typewriter.

I would encourage grant and creative writers to invest in some type of AI software tool for their editing. Even some professional human editors are using these tools. And the use of AI will continue to grow. One day AI may even write grants or stories with the human used only for the final editing.

As an example, AI is already being used in news media to find and summarize internet articles for publication. The AI searches for patterns and popularity and then produces and distributes this data in a summary. Journalists and editors review the summaries for the final news article.

AI will continue to improve and become more of a needed asset for writing and publishing. Just like one day when we might go from typing to using voice recognition or even reading our thoughts to write with.

What do you think about using AI?

P.S. If anyone wants to know what software tool I use, send me a comment or an email.

2021 Grant Writing Goals

In my last blog, I explained my creative writing goals for the year. This blog is how I set my grant writing goals. I’m more specific with the grants.

I have created a spreadsheet and listed all the foundations I plan to submit throughout the year. This spreadsheet includes the foundation’s name and contact information, such as the website and a point of contact. It also includes what focus areas the foundation had last year. More importantly, the spreadsheet includes the date when the application opens and closes.

Every grant writer and nonprofit manager should develop a yearly list of grant applications with this information. I have seen some managers’ list on a white board or written in a notebook with only the closing date. The list needs to be more than this.

It should have enough information so a nonprofit manager knows at a glance what the focus areas are, the dates, and where to access the application (e.g. the website). The staff should have access so they know when supporting data is needed.

Some people set a date when to start the application, at a point before the grant opens. I do not do this. I wait until the application goes live.

Foundations may change things and a grant writer could waste time using a previous application. I wait until the application goes live, so I am sure what is required.

One key to successful grant writing is organization and planning and keeping a list helps. I have seen nonprofits miss a deadline and a good chance at money because they forgot to submit the grant request. Don’t forget to make a list of grants for the year. When everything is spread out, the possibility of all that funding builds hope.

When the Nonprofit Changes Personnel

Grant writers, like myself, may not be on a nonprofit’s board or part of the staff. Yet, grant writers should be aware of changes to board members and staff that may impact submitted grants.

As an example, some grant applications require at least one person on the staff to have special certifications. Losing these people or moving them to another part of the nonprofit could disqualify the nonprofit. While the nonprofit did not change their mission, they changed the qualification for the grant.

The biggest impact is when an executive director leaves. While the departure of a board president may change some things, the executive director is more closely tied to the nonprofit’s operations and grant requirements. Also, most grant applications are linked directly to the executive director at the time of submission.

When changes in personnel occur, grant writers should inform the decision makers what the effect is on submitted grants (if any) and inform the foundation of these changes, if necessary. There is an ethical dilemma if the nonprofit does not want the foundation to know about changes in personnel.

There are many reasons why a nonprofit would not want these changes known. Some reasons are valid. However, if the changes impact submitted grants, the foundation should be told.

Grant writers have a responsibility to the nonprofit and to the foundation when it concerns a grant they wrote. I make sure everyone knows of the personnel situation if it impacts a grant I wrote. The nonprofit and foundation can decide what is best.

Yes, this is “covering your ass.” But I always believe open communication is important and prevents problems later. The nonprofit may lose the grant, but the foundation will likely appreciate the honesty.

My Editing Process

I wish there was a process. So far, it’s been a haphazard thing with me. I’ve recently settled on one process which seems to be working (for now).

For my novel, I focus on one chapter at a time. If it is a long chapter, I divide it in half. My focus consists of reading each word slowly to myself. If I hesitate, I stop and reword what I wrote. Even if what I wrote was great, if I hesitate then a reader will, too. When I’m done, I read what I wrote a little faster.

I continue this until I have read the chapter without hesitating or making significant changes. Focusing on a few pages at a time is the key along with speaking each word carefully.

A writer must take the time and focus on editing. Not dwell on the editing until the words become like salt in your eyes, but become the reader after being the writer. And don’t rush. Value is more important than speed.

Whether a writer likes editing or not, it is unavoidable and mandatory. Other, broader editing will look at the plot. But specific, focused editing will take the most time and be the most valuable.

Writers should do the majority of editing themselves before sending it to a professional editor. By editing first, the writer has a deeper look at what they wrote. They will understand their work from different viewpoints and angles. When an editor proposes changes, the writer is better equipped to decide what changes to accept.

There is no good answer to when a writer finishes editing. Just don’t let it become an obsession. When changes become fewer or the original returns, it might be a good time to say that’s enough.