The artificial intelligence landscape that has developed over the past year has had a significant impact on efficiency, productivity and innovation.
It is evolving swiftly, with new uses emerging almost daily. Many of these technologies offer not-for-profits the opportunity to do more with fewer resources.
However, the rapid pace of change in AI can be challenging to navigate, and the technology’s limitations and risks must be understood, in particular:
- Biases AI systems reflect the data they are trained on. If this data is biased, the AI may unintentionally propagate these biases. Not-for-profits must remain vigilant and proactive in ensuring AI outputs are fair and non-discriminatory.
- Privacy concerns AI's ability to process extensive personal data raises privacy questions and carries the risk of misuse. Not-for-profits, as custodians of sensitive information, should prioritise data protection. It's essential to check the data and privacy policies of AI platforms before submitting confidential information, as many of the models are trained on user input.
- Hallucinations AI systems sometimes generate inaccurate or nonsensical information with confidence, leading users to mistakenly trust the falsehoods. These 'hallucinations' often stem from inadequate training data. Not-for-profits should verify the accuracy of AI-generated information before relying on it.
With an understanding of these limitations, let's examine five practical uses of AI for not-for-profits:
- Streamlining communication For not-for-profits, clear and engaging messaging is crucial. AI, through tools like large language models, can help hone content to match specific audiences. It can assist in crafting compelling narratives for various platforms, saving time and maintaining brand consistency.
- Analysing data Tools like ChatGPT's Code Interpreter can process documents and data to reveal patterns and insights that can be used to help decision-making about resource distribution, program success, and donor behaviour.
- Automation AI can manage repetitive tasks, such as scheduling and responding to standard inquiries, allowing not-for-profits to dedicate more time to their strategic objectives.
- Summarising information In an era of information overload, generative AI can help by summarising extensive documents, aiding in the efficient consumption of information.
- Creating visuals AI can produce visual materials and videos, enhancing the storytelling and engagement of not-for-profits.
Becoming more comfortable and confident with using AI can help not-for-profits to maximise their contribution to positive social change. Let's welcome this new era of innovation, mindful of both the challenges and opportunities AI offers.
Lee Schofield is the co-founder of Future for Now, which helps organisations with strategy, education and guidance in AI, automation and tech.