Cash splash to help strengthen sector AI capability

Posted on 05 Jun 2024

By Greg Thom, journalist, Institute of Community Directors Australia

Artificial Intelligence

Australian not-for-profits are set to share in a $2 million funding boost designed to help them better harness artificial intelligence technology to tackle poverty, inequality and climate change.

The cash injection from (the philanthropic arm of Google) is the second round of investment under the Asia-Pacific Digital Transformation Program, facilitated by the technology-focused NFP Infoxchange.

The funding will help social and environmental-focused NFPs across the Asia-Pacific region to increase their impact by accelerating the use of new technologies such as AI.

The announcement follows more than a year of consultation with 47 NFPs across the region, which found the majority of social impact organisations lacked basic data capabilities and the critical infrastructure to even consider integrating AI into their operations.

The first round of the Asia-Pacific program saw more than $1 million invested in boosting the technological capabilities of organisations across the region.

The funding was used to deliver a combination of forums, consulting and webinars, aimed at helping under-resourced organisations use technology to accelerate their impact.

Infoxchange CEO David Spriggs.

The second round of funding is designed to further support NFPs who benefited from individual technology assessments and coaching during the first iteration of the program.

Infoxchange CEO David Spriggs said the funding injection would help these same organisations harness rapidly evolving AI technology and other innovative digital solutions to amplify their impact.

“We surveyed nearly 1,600 not-for-profit organisations in the Asia-Pacific to better understand their digital capabilities, challenges and opportunities, and we found that technological maturity was alarmingly low,” said Mr Spriggs.

According to the Asia-Pacific NGO Digital Capability report:

  • one in six organisations experienced a cyber security incident in the past 12 months
  • just 27% of organisations had moved to the cloud
  • about 61% were less than satisfied with how they use technology.

“To solve this problem, we need to equip impact-focused organisations with the tools, resources and support to leverage technology to solve social problems within an environment that is becoming increasingly challenging,” said Mr Spriggs.

“By leveraging on experts and resources with tailored solutions, this initiative is crucial to help make the most of AI, digitally transform their operations, and ultimately drive greater social impact in their communities.” global head and vice president Maggie Johnson.

The new round of funding was announced at the Asia-Pacific Digital Transformation Summit in Singapore by global head and vice president Maggie Johnson.

“ is proud to support Infoxchange's AI and tech capacity-building program for NGOs in the Asia-Pacific region,” said Ms Johnson.

“By leveraging on experts and resources with tailored solutions, this initiative is crucial to help make the most of AI, digitally transform their operations, and ultimately drive greater social impact in their communities.”

The funding announcement follows claims the NFP and charity sector is perfectly placed to ensure AI is used to benefit society.

Speaking as part of an AI-focused panel at the recent Infoxchange Technology for Social Justice conference, Judy Slatyer, Responsible AI Think Tank leader at the National AI Centre, said the sector has a solid ethical framework in place that would help make the new technology an important part of society – if it chose to rise to the challenge.

“I think we can lead the charge on creating AI which works in society and works in a good way,” she said.

“We have the muscles, we have the processes, we have the experiences to be able to shift AI to a space where it can actually enable society to do better things,” said Ms Slatyer, a former CEO of Red Cross Australia.

A recent Institute of Community Directors Australia (ICDA) Pulse Poll found growing enthusiasm for the potential benefits of AI, with more than a fifth (21%) of NFP leaders believing there was potential to make greater use of AI in their organisations to make-data driven decisions.

More information

Sector leaders say NFPs can be the ethical backbone of artificial intelligence

Community Directors Intelligence: the artificial intelligence edition

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