How Your Nonprofit Can Use AI Effectively

Artificial intelligence (AI), which enables machines to simulate human thought processes, is growing in leaps and bounds. Indeed, ChatGPT, an AI provider of content, surged past 180 million users in March, according to OpenAI.

Naturally, not-for-profits are taking notice, and some organizations have adopted ChatGPT and other forms of AI into their operations. Not surprisingly, the speed, efficiency and cost-effectiveness of these technologies lay behind many decisions to implement them. However, you should be circumspect before adopting AI. It can trigger a number of moral, ethical and human considerations.


Plus and Minus

On the plus side, AI can be used by nonprofits to create or complement grant proposals, write thank-you notes to donors, and churn out other routine communications. These apps can free staffers to do other things that require human interaction, such as working one-on-one with clients or meeting with potential donors.

On the other hand, AI might be used to support biased or discriminatory beliefs. It has been used to send confusing messages, disseminate false information and distort intentions — sometimes leading to bad press, lost support and lawsuits. What's more, AI could lead to job losses and reduce human interaction. In a worst-case scenario for nonprofits, badly deployed AI could destroy organizations that are otherwise performing important and essential services.

Practical Suggestions

Keeping that in mind, here are several practical suggestions for adopting AI in a responsible manner:

Does It Make Sense?

AI can easily accomplish jobs that are time consuming, labor intensive and repetitive. You shouldn't waste time and effort on extensive research or distribution of thank-you notes to donors when that can be "assigned" to an effective AI tool.

But whether AI makes sense for your organization depends on many factors. Carefully consider both what AI could accomplish as well as potential ethical issues it could raise. Discuss any budgetary considerations with your financial advisors.

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