Chris Dodds, Icon Agency’s managing director of growth and innovation, offers tips on how to leverage AI for the benefit of your not-for-profit.
In the ever-evolving landscape of technology, not-for-profits can look to artificial intelligence (AI) to potentially enhance operations and reduce costs. This is especially true in strategic communications, a domain traditionally dominated by costly consultancies. But how can NFPs harness this technology effectively?
One of the most critical areas for NFPs is fundraising. AI can revolutionise this by automating donor segmentation and personalising communication. Machine learning algorithms can analyse donor data to identify patterns and predict future giving behaviours. These insights allow NFPs to tailor their fundraising strategies and target potential high-value donors with personalised messages.
For membership management, AI can provide a more personalised experience to members. By analysing member interactions and feedback, AI can help NFPs to understand their members’ needs better and offer more targeted services. AI chatbots can handle routine inquiries, freeing up staff time for more complex tasks.
In marketing, AI can be a game-changer for NFPs. With tools like predictive analytics and AI-powered content creation, organisations can create more effective and lower cost marketing strategies. AI algorithms can analyse vast amounts of data to identify trends and insights, which can inform marketing decisions. AI can also help in creating more engaging and relevant content, ensuring that the marketing message resonates with the intended audience.
Effective communication is key for any NFP. AI-driven tools can help in automating routine communications, such as newsletters and social media updates. Platforms such as ChatGPT can ensure the content is engaging and appropriately tailored to your audience. AI can also monitor and analyse public sentiment, providing valuable feedback on the effectiveness of communication strategies.
Advocacy and lobbying
In advocacy and lobbying, AI can help NFPs identify and target key stakeholders and decision-makers effectively. By analysing public records, social media, and news, AI can provide insights into political trends and public opinion, which can inform advocacy strategies. AI can also help in drafting policy papers and submissions, ensuring that they are data-driven and impactful.
Navigating legal compliance is crucial for NFPs. AI can assist in this area by monitoring changes in legislation and ensuring that the organisation remains compliant. AI-driven legal tools can also help in drafting and reviewing legal documents, reducing the need for expensive legal consultations. There are of course risks in using this approach, as AI outputs aren’t always accurate and require expert human review.
Good governance is essential for the success of any NFP. AI can enhance governance by providing tools for better decision-making. Data analytics can offer insights into organisational performance, financial health, and operational efficiency. AI can also help in risk management by identifying potential issues before they become problematic.
In service delivery, AI can improve efficiency and effectiveness. For example, AI can be used to match services with those who need them most, ensuring that resources are used effectively. AI can also help in monitoring and evaluating the impact of services, providing valuable feedback for continuous improvement.
Finally, in stakeholder relations, AI can play a crucial role in identifying and managing relationships with key stakeholders. By analysing communication patterns and feedback, AI can help NFPs to understand their stakeholders’ needs and concerns better, leading to stronger and more productive relationships.
There’s a lot to digest here, and knowing how to find, test and use the right AI tool is the first challenge. I recommend identifying AI champions in your team who can help implement new tools and train others. Start with some small tasks and ramp up once you’re confident the outputs are as good as you’re getting from your consultants – or at least close enough to justify the savings and efficiencies AI brings.
Most importantly, understand the information privacy policies that apply to any data or content you’re using to prompt an AI. If you’re subject to a non-disclosure agreement, or if information is restricted in other ways, it shouldn’t be shared with an AI.
This article was written with assistance from ChatGPT 4. Chris Dodds’ Icon Agency provides behaviour change marketing and communications services, and delivers “against any brief – from encouraging ethical shopping to reducing violent extremism.”
Eight steps that NFPs can take to adopt AI responsibly (Stanford Social Innovation Review)