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by Han Group

Nonprofits can reap the benefits of AI by starting small, prioritizing trust, and remembering that the best results rely on human oversight. 

Nonprofits are facing persistent staffing headwinds in 2024. Burnout, high turnover, and high vacancy rates can make it difficult to meet program goals, prompting nonprofit leaders to ask: how can we do more with less?

Allowing AI to take on the burden may seem like an obvious answer. And, 89% of nonprofits agreed that AI would improve efficiency, but just around 30% of nonprofits have adopted it. There are many types of AI-related tech that nonprofits might use, but a good starting point is to experiment with large language models, like ChatGPT or Bard.

“I do not believe that AI will replace fundraisers or nonprofits, but nonprofits that use AI will replace those that don’t,” said Nathan Chappell, senior vice president of a software company that provides prospect research and donor data to nonprofits, in an interview with the Chronicle of Philanthropy. “Start — because if you don’t, you will be left behind.”

So what does this look like in practice, and how might AI work for your organization?

AI helps nonprofits predict donor behavior

One of the biggest challenges nonprofits face is being able to forecast revenue. AI tools that use predictive modeling can help nonprofits identify patterns in donor behavior and their propensity to give.

These AI models can detect donor trends in large volumes of data that a human might miss. Things like the size and frequency of past donations, demographic information, and responses to outreach campaigns can be analyzed for patterns. This helps nonprofits identify potential major donors, loyal repeat donors, and even lapsed donors to re-engage with.

AI helps nonprofits ideate and communicate

Once you master the art of prompting — that is, the inputs you provide the AI that determine its outputs — AI tools can aid teams in brainstorming sessions and deepen creativity and problem-solving.

AI tools can save time on donor and audience engagement efforts by writing first drafts of memos, emails (think: thank you notes and invitations), and social media posts. AI can quickly outline a blog post, create meeting and event agendas, or make project or campaign plans that staff can review and adjust.

AI helps nonprofits make data-informed decisions

Some nonprofits are using AI to segment and analyze large sets of data in a fraction of the time it would take otherwise — and then identify trends and produce graphs and reports.

Using AI for data analysis, nonprofits can measure the effectiveness of certain programs, match a large roster of volunteers to the tasks they’re best suited for, and even make recommendations based on trends seen in the data.

Start small, prioritize trust

Without investing in AI tools or immediately understanding how AI could support your organization, start small. Get familiar with how a few models operate, or find a training that can introduce the basic components of AI.  

One consensus among the many voices on AI in the nonprofit space is that it should be supervised so the work can stay human-centered. The public has a high level of trust in nonprofits as institutions , compared to government and media, a position that must be protected to maintain the strong relationships they have with their supporters.

The 2024 Edelman Trust Barometer shows that 54% of survey respondents trust nonprofits to integrate innovation into society, second to the business category at 59%. Ensuring safety and security in their use of AI, especially when it comes to sensitive donor data, is imperative. Part of that is ensuring organizations retain end-to-end ownership of their data, even when they partner with others.

Han Group is dedicated to working exclusively with nonprofit clients. Our purpose is to use our expertise in nonprofit-specific accounting to be a reliable partner to organizations as they navigate an ever-changing landscape.



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