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Monday, June 24, 2024

Recap: Nonprofits & AI – A Dialog with Devi Thomas


I used to be thrilled to have a dialog with Devi Thomas from Microsoft Philanthropies. She shared a number of highlights from Microsoft’s current nonprofit sector analysis. We additionally mentioned use circumstances, advantages, limitations, adoptions, and plenty of sensible ideas. You possibly can watch the video right here in addition to the human curated sources shared and a Copilot created abstract transcript right here.  If you wish to proceed studying about AI for nonprofits, register for the World Nonprofit Leaders Summit, utilizing the code VIRTUAL. Under is my absolutely human-generated reflection.

Highlights from Microsoft’s Nonprofit Sector Analysis on AI

Devi kicked off by sharing a sentiment evaluation from a current survey of nonprofit leaders that fall into considered one of two completely different perceptions: consolation and concern.  On the priority facet;

  • 60% of the nonprofit leaders say they don’t belief the selections that AI is making as a substitute of them making them. 
  • 63% are anxious in regards to the safety dangers posed by AI
  • 58% are anxious about this actually steep studying curve that their total crew has to undergo to know the way to use generative AI

The final level highlights a perceived problem that, in apply, turns into much less daunting as soon as customers interact with instruments like Copilot. The concern a few steep studying curve is extra of a mindset change, from letting go of doing the work from zero to 100% and shifting to specializing in the 80-100%. 

On the consolation facet: 

  • 63% of the nonprofit leaders say that AI is reliable of their office
  • 64% consider that it’s going to improve their creativity
  • 25% of nonprofit leaders consider that a very powerful talent they will educate their groups and be taught is the talent of when to make use of AI, and when to make use of the human abilities

In digging deeper into how nonprofits are utilizing generative AI like Copilot within the office, 69% use it to edit their work. 65% are utilizing it to clean-up their Monday morning inboxes. (I’ve personally discovered this use case extraordinarily useful to have a one-click abstract of actually lengthy threads reworked into actionable steps w/ hyperlinks to supply electronic mail.)  These examples of micro productiveness examples can utilized simply to working.

Use Circumstances

We mentioned completely different use circumstances past productiveness for writing duties and processing electronic mail. Devi shared some inspiring examples of how the know-how can serve missions and stakeholders, together with catastrophe response organizations leveraging AI to foretell and reply to crises extra effectively, and academic nonprofits utilizing AI for tailor-made studying experiences. One other instance consists of utilizing AI to optimize volunteer engagement by aligning alternatives with particular person abilities and pursuits. She pointed on the market was a variety of use circumstances for employees in addition to volunteers. In our ebook, The Sensible Nonprofit, we current many examples of nonprofit use circumstances in addition to Microsoft’s many nonprofit examples.

Devi’s recommendation: perceive the most effective use case on your group and the way you and your workers work finest with the AI. Create small low danger experiments to reply the query: does this use case make sense for our group?  Then transfer onto studying and bettering, however organizations ought to to begin small.  I’d add that it’s also okay to not really feel pressured to go quick, with AI is nice to maneuver slowly.

Devi additionally emphasised the idea of “copilot” the place the human is the pilot and at all times in cost. One metaphor is to consider the AI as an intern that you want to clearly talk directions to after which verify their work and revise. 

Accountable Use

When it comes to accountable and moral AI, particularly initiatives the place AI is interacting with exterior stakeholders, Devi walked by Microsoft’s Six Ideas which embrace accountability, inclusiveness,  reliability & security, equity, transparency, privateness and safety of non-public knowledge contextualizing it in a nonprofit atmosphere. She additionally used the time period “Pink Teaming” the place you check the know-how to attempt to break it so you’re feeling assured that it’s going to do no hurt.

In the case of utilizing generative AI instruments akin to Copilot for drafts of written supplies, a human should at all times verify it for accuracy as a result of it may well make errors. It’s essential to ask for citations, learn the supply materials, triangulate statements with different sources, search for exaggerations, or deceptive statements, and so forth. In different phrases, use all of your important considering abilities. Researchers have a time period for when somebody skips this vital step of auditing the output, “asleep on the wheel.” (For extra recommendation on getting began responsibly, see 8 Steps Nonprofits Can Take for Accountable AI Adoption and recommendation on drafting a suitable use coverage.)

Adoption Technique

Devi talked about that small nonprofits have been extra motivated to get in entrance of generative AI instruments as a result of it shifts them out of time shortage to time abundance. Irrespective of the group’s measurement, it’s important to have management on the government director stage deeply invested. Devi emphasised that the vital step in adoption is shifting to a development mindset. And to create buy-in with workers and volunteers, an space the place nonprofit adoption of Copilot instruments is rising.

I curated plenty of glorious hyperlinks to adoption of AI supplies to assist information nonprofit technique, together with:

To arrange for the Q&A, I used Copilot and requested what questions may come up and develop personas based mostly on the occasion description and attendees. And, the very questions requested by an viewers member was precisely what Copilot predicted!

The Q&A was strong, however I used to be struck by a query about the way to pivot a nonprofit’s tradition of studying, particularly when you have workers who will not be know-how savvy. Devi emphasised that generative AI instruments like copilot are new to everybody.  And since they use pure language processing, it makes it simpler to make use of as a result of you’ll be able to have a dialog versus navigating menus. Additionally, she famous, “It’s unbelievable to have a software like this that permits everybody to be a techie and create our personal private copilots to do a number of the boring, repetitive work or assist us be taught new issues.”   

Reflecting on Devi’s remark, I do consider that AI is a studying alternative for everybody, however it is very important create psychological security the place individuals can ask questions and make it okay to experiment.   I feel we have to use a newbie’s thoughts and be open to studying. 

Our dialog underscored AI’s transformative potential for the nonprofit sector, alongside the significance of navigating its moral implications. Embracing a tradition of studying, guaranteeing management engagement, and approaching AI as a software to boost human creativity and technique are pivotal. AI presents a chance to redefine nonprofit influence, making our efforts more practical and far-reaching.

The place is your nonprofit in adoption AI? How are you addressing considerations? What use circumstances have you ever explored? How are you experimenting and studying?

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