What charity AI in fundraising innovation means - AI and fundraising, including how fundraising jobs will change, how to exploit AI in fundraising, who the winners and losers will be, and access to free charity AI for fundraising services right now, including our free AI funding bid writer. At the end are AI for fundraising FAQs.
In addition to the 6 systems within Charity Excellence, we provide a range of free charity and fundraising AI tools.
Just click the AI bunny icon in the bottom right of any web page or in-system and tell it what you need. Ask as many questions as you wish to, they're free, available 24/7 and will not collect any personal information.
Charity AI Tools & Guides:
We have created 2 one-hour training webinars.
Increasing numbers of people are using ChatGPT to create content, or one of the many emerging imagery apps, as well as in other ways, such as this article by UK Fundraising - 5 ways AI is being used in fundraising (Jun 21). The implementation of the new generative AI systems, like ChatGPT, brings many risks, which I highlight in my blog on the impact AI will have on the sector. But I think there is a very specific risk with fundraising. That is, the major charities already get the vast majority of charity sector funding, but could use their very considerable tech capabilities to exploit AI and secure an even greater share.
In response, we launched our first AI service at the beginning of Jan 23, using Biomni’ s Tenjin software and now provide 4. We believe that we can flip the large charity funding risk into an opportunity by enabling any charity to access AI and, in doing so, begin to level the already very unequal playing field. Our existing services enable any charity to find the funding, guidance, free help, resources and data to support their fundraising and, like all of our systems, is optimised for small charities and marginalised groups. In Mar 23, we launched our free funding bid writing service, which uses the Tenjin software to 'talk to' the ChatGPT software.
Getting ChatGPT to write a funding bid is easy, but getting it to write one that works well isn't. We had to build 5 versions to get it to work and it can't do everything yet. However, it was built, tested and launched it in a matter of a few weeks, can write up to 120 bids a minute, 24/7 and you don't need any fundraising or IT expertise to use it. Biomni have now launched a version of our tech bunny that any charity can have - Charity Bot. It has all the usual benefits of having a bot, but we've also created ways it can be used to build engagement, including encouraging donations and fundraising volunteering.
We will certainly be bringing out new AI services as we move towards creating a single AI concierge service to very simply and quickly meet the needs of any charity or other non-profit. Expect lots of others to do so too - we think, primarily commercial companies and agencies touting their use of the new AI content creation platforms.
We don't necessarily know what data the new AI systems have been trained on or how, and even those that are building these, don't necessarily know what they can do. And it's not just about the huge potential in ChatGPT, but the rate of growth in that potential. It launched in Nov 22, but the much more powerful GPT4 upgrade launched in Mar 23 and there are now a very rapidly growing number of other systems emerging, as the tech giants pour £ billions into development.
There have been growing calls for a halt and even the CEO of OpenAI (which built ChatGPT) recognises the potentially huge risks. However, it seems very unlikely that the US and China would be able to agree what that might look like, in case they give the other an edge, and the potential profits are simply too eye wateringly large.
Expect to see rapidly growing numbers of systems and the capabilities of existing systems rapidly increasing. The tech giants are building AI into everything, so by this time next year, we'll all be using it, whether we know it or not. We think that the use of imagery and text systems to create content will rocket and that we'll begin to see some charity specific AI systems appear, albeit more slowly. In due course, the big charity sector software providers will build it into their systems.
We'll all struggle with ensuring the legal and ethics issues are dealt with effectively and making sure that these are for whatever system you're using will be important. For example, we see no barrier in principle to using AI to create content for fundraising, as long as you can be sure that the facts, figures and arguments in it are fair and accurate. AI can be biased, lie convincingly and hallucinate. A surprisingly substantial amount of the work in building our own AI services has been in ensuring ours don’t. That's a huge global issue for everyone. We've used our developing understanding of AI to create our Charity AI Ethics & Governance Framework that any non-profit can adapt and use. You can't buy-into AI, without checking it's safe and works properly.
In my May 2021 blog for Charity Digital, I posed the questions - Do charities face a growing digital divide? Essentially, a small number of very large charities already had more than 90% of the income and, with their large and highly-effective digital capabilities, had the potential to secure an even larger share of funding. Even before the pandemic, online giving was increasing year-on-year and rose hugely during it, but it was the large charities that benefitted most.
The playing field was already uneven and becoming steeper for smaller charities. I highlighted what I believe to be a growing risk of what Warren Buffet called ’deepening economic moats’ – large organisations building their already significant competitive advantage over smaller ones.
I also highlighted that emerging new technologies, such as AI and blockchain offer potentially even greater opportunities. I hadn't foreseen the massive recent growth in AI. I think that risk has now become much greater and a lot nearer.
Given the huge steps that have been made already, the variety and rate of deployment of new AI systems and the massive investment, I think the change will be huge and fundamental. Moreover, we don't really yet know what these new systems are capable of or how we will manage the legalities and ethics, let alone what else might be coming.
However, whilst the new AI systems are like nothing we've seen before, that step change in tech innovation is something we've experienced before. The rate of tech development has been so fast that the invention of the Internet, mobile phones and Windows are still (relatively) recent history. I think we can make some estimates based on the lessons from history. Listed below is our best guess at what that might look like.
Here's our resource on the impact of AI on charity sector jobs and what charities need to think about and do in managing the changes AI will bring and integrating AI into roles and work procedures. Here's how we think AI might change fundraising roles.
Given the pace and scale of change, making any long term predictions is very challenging. However, the reason Charity Excellence has grown so fast to become the largest charity community is that we don't focus on what other sector organisations do, but on what our community needs and wants. We then ask ourselves how we can use tech to better meet those needs and do that by focussing relentlessly on the 4 things you can improve - quality, quantity, cost and timeliness.
Identifying AIs advantages and limitations and mapping these against these 4 key areas gives us a way to start thinking about how we might use these to improve fundraising. I am a man of meagre talents, but fundraisers are endlessly inventive and this gives them a process to begin thinking about how we might work to deliver the future.
AI offers huge opportunities for fundraising innovation but also limitations.
The Opportunities. Chatting to our AI bunnies isn't the same as talking to a human, but they.
AI Fundraising Limitations. Firstly, the large charities will almost certainly race ahead in adopting AI. Secondly, not a single grant maker will fund Charity Excellence. Grant makers simply aren't interested in infrastructure funding. Ultimately, the new AI fundraising platforms coming will almost certainly be commercial and, as the sector is too small to merit any significant investment, it's likely to be the usual modified versions of commercial systems that don't necessarily meet our needs, with prices small charities often can't afford. Without funding we can't compete, but we are well ahead of the competition and will aim to offer an alternative and help to shape a constructive debate to promote the sector's interests, not profit.
Then there are the huge ethical and legal problems AI presents and great care will need to be taken to ensure that our fundraising remains at all times fair, ethical and trustworthy. Our AI Ethics & Governance Framework provides a simple toolkit to update your fundraising policies and procedures, and in using or commissioning AI. But in the rush for money, how many will make ethics a priority and, even if we do, will the commercial companies? Beyond that, scammers are already using AI to create more effective frauds. Impersonating genuine charities will become easier, potentially undermining the public’s trust in us. We must all make this a priority and it needs to be written in to the Code of Fundraising practice.
Questions To Ask. To explore this further, you may wish to have a look at UK Fundraising's article - Questions on AI's implications in fundraising (31 Mar 23).
The answer is nobody knows, but by matching AI's strengths to what people need and want offers us insights into what that might look like.
Listed below is just some of our free support, but you also have our AI bunnies with you every step of the way. Just click the icon in the bottom right of any screen and tell it what you need - help with registration, finding funding, advice, expert free support, resources, guides, data, raffle prizes, whatever. Available 24/7, they'll go and get you what you need. Login to use the in-system AI bunny to write funding bids for you.
Within the system itself, use Funding Finder, to find a huge range of grants and Help Finder to find lots of free fundraising support and also companies that make product/financial donations. There's also a fundraising online health check, with 500+downloadable funder lists.
Quick, simple and everything is free.
To find the funding and free help you need - Register Now
The AI software Charity Excellence uses is provided pro bono by Biomni and we also receive significant pro bono support from their AI developers, without which we would not be able to deliver our growing suite of AI services. To exploit the potential of AI in your own charity, speak to them about having your own Charity Bot.