Non-profit and generative AI

Embracing the opportunity for non-profits to scale up production of insights and information to help employees, volunteers and beneficiaries.

Responsible and ethical AI is the ambition for non-profits

Generative AI democratises AI. It makes innovation available to everyone, unlocking the potential of digital and human ingenuity together. With generative AI non-profits are now able to reimagine the future. But are you ready for AI?

As non-profits prepare themselves for an AI-first world, our Avanade AI Readiness Report reveals a number of insights into how they are preparing and their priorities:

  1. Responsible and ethical generative AI is the ambition for non-profits.
  2. Non-profits see improved efficiency as a primary first step for generative AI.
  3. Security and cyber resilience platforms are key to being an AI-first non-profit.
  4. Non-profits believe their beneficiaries want to engage more through emerging technologies.

Responsible and ethical AI is the ambition for non-profits

Avanade’s research found that non-profit organisations place a high priority on ensuring that the use of generative AI is both responsible and ethical. We asked, has your non-profit organisation developed guidelines or policies to ensure responsible and ethical AI usage that is explainable to funders and donors?

Responses were high. 55% of respondents said they are putting together responsible and ethical AI usage guidelines; and a further 40% said we already have these in place.

There will be different approaches, but the first action should be to determine a strategy for AI that supports the organisation’s mission, including the core values you wish to uphold, and critical risks that the strategy should address or avoid.

This forms the basis of your governance model, from which you can create a set of guiding principles, performance objectives, risk and impact assessment processes, and the technical infrastructure to support the use-cases prioritised.

Responsible and ethical AI

Has your non-profit organisation developed guidelines or policies to ensure responsible and ethical AI usage that is explainable to funders and donors?

Improved efficiency is the key step for generative AI

The research found that non-profits see process automation, improved efficiency and reduced error from manual, repetitive activities as a key benefit of applying generative AI to their organisation.

39% of non-profit respondents said their primary objective for generative AI is to improve efficiencies.

There are many use cases for non-profits, to improve efficiency, such as using generative AI to enhance beneficiary support through AI-powered chatbots, enabling improved response times and often enhanced experiences.  To personalise donor outreach, streamline content and campaign creation, making fundraising more efficient and beneficial to the non-profit.

Security and cyber resilience platforms are vital to AI

The research identified digital platforms that would be a priority for investment to scale generative AI, including data and AI, workplace platforms, automation platforms and cloud modernisation. But the platform which ranked the highest (57%) amongst our non-profit respondents was security and cyber resilience.

For non-profit organisations, protecting sensitive data about its employees, volunteers, donors, and beneficiaries is critical. In many cases this is a legal requirement, but it becomes an ethical concern when a breach of that data negatively impacts these stakeholders – it may even put volunteers and constituents at greater risk depending on the type of work the non-profit is doing.

While many new AI platforms have their own security and access control capabilities, non-profit organisations are still responsible for the fundamentals of good data governance, including data discovery, classification, protection and retention controls.

Digital Platforms

We asked non-profits which digital platforms they see as a priority to scale use of generative AI. Respondents were asked to identify their top three.

Beneficiaries favour engaging more with emerging technologies

87% of non-profits told us that their beneficiaries either strongly, or mostly, prefer to engage via new technologies such as AI.  When someone mentions ethical or responsible AI, we all immediately think of all the potential risks associated with generative AI. That mindset is important, but we don’t want those concerns to overshadow all the ethically positive outcomes non-profits can achieve with AI. So, for example, if we can elevate a non-profit's service capabilities, expand the organisation’s reach, or improve engagement with stakeholders through emerging technologies like AI, then we should pursue those ideas responsibly.  

Beneficiary engagement

Do your beneficiaries prefer to engage through emerging technologies such as AI?

Ready or not: generative AI is here

Read the full report now

New global research from Avanade explores the readiness of organisations to introduce, adopt and scale generative AI tools like Microsoft Copilot. 

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Avanade partners with global non-profit organisations and the social sector to fulfil their missions and serve their beneficiaries through digital transformation.

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