Harnessing the Power of AI for Your Charity

By James Crawford, Touchpoint Change Consulting

AI is a hot topic these days, with numerous charities exploring how it can benefit them and their service users.

We all face the challenge of wanting to do more with finite resources. So, how can AI support us and give us back several hours per week? Beyond boosting productivity, could it enhance our services and make them more accessible to a wider audience?

Communication: A Key Area for AI Assistance

One significant way AI can help is in overcoming communication challenges. Charities spend a lot of time and energy communicating with service users, volunteers, staff, donors, and funding organizations. Here are a few ways AI can make a difference:

  • Accessibility: Make information available in a more tailored way for all your client groups.
  • Always-on: Extend your opening hours so users can access support whenever needed.
  • Diversity: Translate your materials into other languages.
  • Efficiency: Respond to short-notice funding calls without starting from scratch each time.

Believe it or not, AI can help with all these challenges!

Introducing ChatGPT and AI Chatbots

You’ve likely heard of ChatGPT, one of many AI chatbots. These tools can communicate in a human-like way, using any relevant information available publicly on the Internet and any proprietary information you provide. You can try it for free at www.chatgpt.com.

Imagine a refugee arriving in your town who would benefit from your charity’s services. They could start a chat session from any computer or mobile phone, accessing all the wisdom of the web plus specific information you provide. This service would be available 24/7.

Customizing AI to Fit Your Needs

You can ‘train’ AI on your charity’s brand, services, and tone of voice, specifying how it should communicate (e.g., in simple English or in a more formal style). It’s also multi-lingual, so if a user starts a chat session in Arabic, the chatbot will reply in Arabic.

The latest systems offer very natural conversations, covering a wide range of topics. Your service details, opening hours, and emergency contact points can all be provided at the right point. All through a simple pop-up chatbot window on your website, Facebook page or volunteer portal.

Leveraging AI for Funding and Efficiency

Many charities have successfully attracted additional funding using AI. However, others have not! The difference is partly down to how they use it.

The trick is to make the output your own. Use it as a brainstorming and drafting tool, but don’t accept the first thing it says. That might be the same thing it says to all its users! Collaborate with it to create something unique that reflects your mission and your customers’ needs.

Expanding Your Use of AI Over Time

ChatGPT is just one of dozens of systems you could be using. As your team becomes accustomed to using Generative AI, they’ll discover many other applications in the office, for customers, and in their personal lives as well. That may lead on to more sophisticated uses of AI that utilise customer and service data you have, to develop new services.

Your people are the key

Of course, you will need to engage your team effectively to explain this new process, gain their trust and consider any data protection issues (fortunately, straightforward for simple chatbots).

So … where will you go next?