When I first started writing grants I was advised right away to copy and paste information from previous applications. I was told, "there is no need to reinvent the wheel". This is good information for someone who is just starting out, because it might not occur to you to do this, even though it is obvious, but it needs to be followed up further information. Here are my thoughts around some Do's and Don'ts for reusing information from previous written applications.
I still reuse information from all funding applications, sometimes it might even be a few years old. I also use information from any written work, a program plan, tender submission, website, an email or even a media release. Useful information can come from anywhere and can also answer obscure questions in an application. Sometimes I will be using the same background information for so long that I start to look to new sources for a fresher way to write it. Reusing information saves time, helps new grant writers with context and gives a good starting point to beginning an application. I highly recommend researching your data base to find all sorts of written work to reuse, you never know what will help you answer a question, lead you in the right direction or help give you the inspiration to write something better.
Reusing information is super helpful, but there are issues that can arise if you aren't paying attention. Just like applying for a new job, reusing cover letters or resumes definitely saves time, but if you don't edit or reread the information it is a fast way to get your application tossed out. Commonly written work can have a funders name, old statistics or even a different program name in the bulk of a paragraph. Things like this might not get noticed if you are just skimming through, you need to properly edit your work. Obvious mistakes will show a funder that you either don't know what you are talking about or that you didn't have the time to prepare the application. Either way, these mistakes will frequently result in an unsuccessful outcome.
When I reuse information I reread it many times and tailor the copied information to suit the funder and/or their objectives. This way you are still saving time, but you also know it is well written and answers their question. Even if it is the same question, such as the organizations background information, you still need to reread it at least once because you never know if there was a previous mistake or if the question is requiring more information. Definitely don't just copy, paste then submit, especially if it is the same grant in a different round. If you applied for a grant and were unsuccessful, reusing the same information for the same grant will definitely not get you a different outcome. The funder will need to see that you have either taken on their feedback or progressed in your writing to be successful in a future round.
Basically, it all comes down to editing your work. Reusing written work is a great way to start and help with completing applications, but it doesn't mean you don't need to edit or add in new information. Editing is the most important part when it comes to grant writing and shouldn't be done quickly or as an after thought. Having a well written application is extremely important, because even if you aren't successful in your outcome, you are still showing the funder that you put effort in and care about the application. A funder reads hundreds to thousands of applications, poorly written work just goes in the trash. Your application needs to be memorable and of the highest quality. So definitely save time by using old information, but always follow it up with a reread and a rewrite.