Will Artificial Intelligence Augment Nonprofit Staff or Replace? | Beth's Blog

Will Artificial Intelligence Augment Nonprofit Staff or Replace?


Artificial intelligence, machine learning, bots, and other automation technologies offer many benefits to nonprofit professionals because it can perform basic and mundane tasks. As a result,  it frees up staff time to focus on higher value activities. Artificial Intelligence can help nonprofits do more with less staff time, including the tasks described below.

Fundraising & Marketing
streamlined supporter & donor communications
improved donor acquisition & prospecting
greater insights into campaign message performance
more efficient and wider donor targeting
scaled personalized donor engagement and communication

Internal Administration
cost-effective staff training tools
automated financial processes
automated reporting tools

increased efficiencies to implement, scale, and monitor programs

Note the adjectives:  “cost-effective,” “efficiency” and “streamlined.” But does that mean the algorithms and robots will eventually replace human jobs at nonprofits?  Maybe not for professional fundraising or program staff, but other staff jobs, particularly minimum wage it might according to Mark Horvath.

Is AI going to be a jobs killer? is a question that has been investigated by numerous studies and surveys across many industries. The answer is unclear. Some studies estimate the job loss to be in the millions and impacting particular fields or types of workers.  Other studies are more positive and estimate a net-job creation.

In the nonprofit sector, working together or “augmentation” is the clear theme. AI technologies will enable time shifting to more human-centered tasks through using a combined machine/human approach.  The algorithms are able to crunch large amounts of data quickly, data entry, and repetitive tasks.  Humans are good at relationships, empathy, intuition, and judgement. Many nonprofit jobs could be enhanced with artificial intelligence.

If AI can do the boring grunt work for a nonprofit human, use that free time on building relationships,identifying innovation solutions, and scaling services. This partnership leads to better results and maybe there might even be a possibility of new job titles in the nonprofit sector.

Let’s look at fundraising. In an article by Boodle.AI Strategy Officer Frances Hoang emphasizes that the key to successful nonprofit fundraising and AI is teamwork. Human fundraisers team up with AI assistants, with each half doing what they do best. First, the AI assistant develops and applies algorithms to ingest, clean, enrich and then searches through large amounts of data in order to recognize patterns and make recommendations.

But that alone is not enough to executive a successful fundraising strategy.The human fundraiser must apply judgment and context to select from those recommendations to reach out to the right donor and with the right message. Hoang suggests that this Human-AI team is the future of nonprofit development shops.

Chat bots are another example of how a fundraisers job could be enhance. Charity News has some examples from the UK, including The Children’s Society which recently tested a chat bot application on their Facebook page to support fundraising questions. And chat bots are being used to bring the stories of patients to life for potential donors.

It isn’t a question of whether robots will take over your nonprofit job, but rather: How will you use all that freed up to help your nonprofit get more impact?

One Response

  1. Hello,
    Amazing article!
    One of the most prominent new technologies of the 21st century is Artificial Intelligence. AI has evolved the industries on a vast level, and everyone is leveraging it to come up with the most appropriate solution to it.
    I found this article wonderful because it provided me a clear understanding of will AI augment nonprofit staff or replace.
    Thanks for sharing.

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