Charity AI Risk Register & AI For Charities Risk Assessment Template

The non profit charity AI risk register and AI for charities risk assessment template

Charity AI Risk Register & AI For Charities Risk Assessment Template

This is the charity AI risk register and AI for charities risk assessment template, which informed our work in creating the Charity AI Governance & Ethics Framework. I split AI risks into near, medium and long term and also in terms of the risk to everyone and the specific charity AI risks.

It can be used by any charity (or anybody else) to quickly gain an oversight of AI risk.  You can also copy the AI risk register or take from it the AI risks relevant to you and include these in your own charity risk register.

The 2nd section enables you to assess if AI is a risk or an opportunity for your own charity.  At the end I've included our charity AI FAQs.

The AI Governance & Ethics Framework can be used as a simple AI risk mitigation and avoidance tool.  For those designing of commissioning AI systems, you may also want to have a look at the AI Design Principles guide and also our Charity AI Data Protection Toolkit.

CHARITY AI RISK REGISTER TEMPLATE

This risk register template details the main AI risks in likely chronological order, split into AI risks for all of us and, if applicable, specific charity AI risks.

Charity AI Risks - Current

AI Risks for Everyone Charity AI Risks
1.  Privacy  Large language models (LLMs) are populated by scraping data from the Internet and the default in using many AI systems is to share your data with the LLM data set. Online content created by charities may be shared and used by others without any regard to copyright and IP and there is a risk of charity people unwittingly and without appropriate consent, inputting sensitive personal and financial data into LLM data sets
2. Legal Issues Data is being input into LLMs without the permission of the content creators and disregarding copyright and other IP, which can then be used by anyone. In many cases, charities may be happy that their content is used more widely but there may be issues around imagery, particularly of children and women.
3. Disinformation AI will enable disinformation to be made far more convincing.  There are guardrails but also an increasing number of jail break websites that enable these to be circumvented. Charities campaign to counter abuse and discrimination but AI will enable those creating this to do so in a far more convincing and compelling way.  There is also a risk of charities using AI generated imagery without clearly annotating it as such and, in doing so, undermining public trust.
4. Scams AI is already enabling far more convincing scams. There is a growing risk to charities and their beneficiaries.  More widely, as people become less confident in their ability to tell a scam from a genuine fundraising campaign, scams will underline the public's trust, making people less confident about donating.
5. Discrimination AI does not itself discriminate but the data sets used and how these are trained may well do so.  Ensuring this doesn't happen may well slow adoption and would increase cost, so there's a real risk of this not being done correctly. There are risks of discrimination to charity beneficiaries. Charities need also to ensure that AI systems they adopt or create are not themselves discriminatory.
6. Exclusion Increasingly systems are moving online and AI has significant potential to both make these more accessible and move further support online.  This may create a risk of moving 100% to online support, further excluding those who cannot or are unwilling to use online systems. Charities need to be mindful of ensuring their services are accessible to everyone and that these may need extending to plug any gaps in provision by others created by moving entirely to AI delivery of support, in areas such as the NHS and social services.

Charity AI Risks - 2024 Onwards

AI Risks for Everyone Charity AI Risks
1. Obsolescence Organisations that fail to respond and cling to services and/or business models that people won't need any longer, or they can access for free or more effectively or more easily using AI.  There are going to be losers. The risk may be greater for charities that are larger and national, because they are less likely to have very niche or place based activities that are too difficult or small to make it worth building AI for. Our risk checklist is at the bottom of our Impact of AI on Charities Insight Report.
2. Loss Of Human Agency  We could design jobs to retain human agency and achieve more, or cut jobs and dumb down work to cut costs.  If we just cut costs there is a risk of job losses and also the mental health impact on those who remain in work. AI offers charities and huge opportunity to achieve  more and our people are our single biggest asset.  Dumbing down charity jobs may save some money, but there would be a much greater loss in terms of effectiveness and impact on our people.
3. Moral Outsourcing A phrase coined by Rumman Chowdhury.  Blaming the machine by applying logic of sentience and choice to AI.  In doing so, , allowing those creating AI to effectively reallocate responsibility for the products they build onto the products themselves, rather than taking responsibility.  The issues with AI arise because of the data sets we choose, how we train these and how we use the AI itself.  We need to own the problem.
4. Dumbing Down Creativity AI is already being used to create art and simpler news content.  If this becomes widespread, it may well impact on human artists and the quality of news and other content may well be dumbed down to become AI 'supermarket muzak'. It may be art, but the creative magic has gone.

Charity AI Risks - 2025 - 2050

AI Risks for Everyone Charity AI Risks
1. Digital Moats In Sep 23, the UK Competition & Markets Authority highlighted the risk of the AI market falling into the hands of a small number of companies, with a potential short-term consequence that consumers are exposed to significant levels of false information, AI-enabled fraud and fake reviews.  In the long term, it could enable firms to gain or entrench positions of market power, and also result in companies charging high prices for using the technology. Economic moat was a term coined by Warren Buffet about the potential for companies to become so dominant that they exclude all competition.  The risk that the small number of very large charities, which already receive the vast majority of sector fundraising income, will use their significant digital expertise to become even more dominant, to the detriment of smaller charities.  Our AI Steppingstones Strategy was, in part, created in response to this risk.
2. Digital Super Exclusion A Charity Excellence concept, so just our work.  AI has the potential to hugely improve accessibility.  However, there will always be those who cannot or will not use digital, often the most vulnerable.  It seems likely to us that organisations may either switch off (existing) legacy systems as too expensive for the remaining very small numbers or assume they've solved the problem and switch these off as no longer needed.  The result would be far fewer digitally excluded people but those who are would become 'super excluded'.
3. The Paperclip Maximiser A 2003 thought experiment, in which a computer wiped out humanity, because we were getting in the way of its primary aim to maximise paperclips.  This is obviously getting a lot of media attention, but we don't think it's a major risk until we achieve Artificial General Intelligence (AGI); human like cognitive abilities.  Nobody knows, but we think it's probably still years way and may only be partly achievable.
4. Loss of Critical Thinking by Humans In the same  way that many lost their mental arithmetic skills with the advent of calculators and Excel, there is a risk we may slowly lose our critical thinking abilities, if we outsource this to AI.  This may sound daft but has been flagged as a potentially serious and invidious risk by some leading thinkers, because critical thinking abilities are critical (funnily enough) to just about everything we do, from simple day-to-day decisions to 'should I press the button and start a nuclear war?'

The Risks of Frontier AI

Frontier AI is highly capable general-purpose AI models that can perform a wide variety of tasks and match or exceed the capabilities present in today's most advanced models.  In Oct 23, the Government Office for Science published the Future Risks of Frontier AI, including capabilities, other uncertainties and scenarios.

IS AI A RISK OR AN OPPORTUNITY FOR MY CHARITY?

I think those at most risk will be charities that fail to respond and cling to services and/or business models that people won't need/want any longer.  I'm sure your services are excellent and that charity AI probably couldn't replace these but that may well be the right answer to the wrong question.

The right question to ask is, what do your beneficiaries want?  And that's often about a range of factors - cost (even if only the bus fare), travel time and hassle to get there, time to get an appointment, breadth of services available,  opening hours etc.  AI will be free/low cost, is available immediately, 24/7, has huge data banks to draw on and may be able to meet your beneficiaries' needs in a completely different way.

Charity AI Use - Timescale

Charity AI is not something that will pose a risk in the future, it's already here and its use is likely to grow rapidly.  Here are 2 examples of charity AI use.

  • Our main information hub is hugely popular and the largest in the sector (because we promote the whole sector, not just our own resources).  It took me 5 years to build, and, in just 4 months, the AI bunnies pretty much made it redundant.
  • They can now answer 20,000 non profit questions, with a 90+% success rate, 24/7, and are currently answering 3000 queries a month but can manage 120 a minute and cost almost nothing.  If you chat to it, the in-system bunny can also write funding bids and create and run ChatGPT prompts for you.

The more people chat to them, the better they get and that's without taking into account the rapid advances in AI capabilities.

Sources Of Charity AI Risk

We believe that charities need to think about AI risk in 3 ways.  Which will apply to any given charity and the extent to which each will matter will vary but we think that all charities must take steps to safeguard themselves from AI risks.

  • External AI Risks - Bad Actors.  The direct risk to charities and their beneficiaries.
    • For example, being targeted for fraud or misinformation.
  • Internal AI Risks - Poor AI Adoption.  Either failing to adopt AI or not using AI systems correctly and safely.
    • Not achieving the charitable impact the charity could and should have and/or.
    • Creating a negative impact on beneficiaries and/or non-compliance with the law.
  • Societal AI Risks - Poor Law & Regulation.  The risk of not creating effective AI regulation globally and nationally, leading to either deliberate unfair exploitation or unintended harm.
    • For example, campaigning charities in fields such as human rights.

Is Your Charity At Risk From AI?

To find out if your charity is ready, or at risk, here are my suggested AI risk indicators you may wish to think about:

  • We haven't changed.
    • We deliver much the same services we did 5 years ago and/or in the same way.
    • AI aside, the world has changed hugely in recent years and, if you haven't, you're probably at best less efficient than you should be.
  • We haven't assessed the potential impact.
    • We don't think that this will significantly impact us or the way we work, or, at best, we don't know how it's likely to impact us.
    • If you're not assessing the rapid change taking place, you'll be less likely to spot relevant issues and less able to respond to these.
  • We don't do tech.
    • Our board/management prefer to talk than act, and are 'traditional', particularly when it comes to 'geeky stuff'.
    • If your board think that moving to online meetings was 'digital transformation', you have a problem.
  • We're not genuinely unique.
    • Other organisations deliver similar services and/or we use processes and/or information that's available elsewhere online.
    • If what you have and do isn't unique, the need you meet is open to being delivered in other and potentially very different ways.
  • We get paid.
    • In large part we rely on people paying us for the services we provide - either contractual payments or membership fees of some kind.
    • You may think you're unique and the best, but those who have to part with their limited cash may see that differently.
  • Face-to-face interaction with a real human being isn't absolutely essential.
    • It is almost always better to interact with a human, but better isn't essential.
    • It may be possible to achieve other benefits either by using AI or a blended AI/human service.

Free Charity Excellence AI For Charities

In addition to the 6 systems within Charity Excellence, we provide a range of free Artificial Intelligence (AI) services.  If you'd like the infographic toolkit, with links to our AI resources, email us.

  • Enabling you to find funding, help, resources and data.
  • Ask Me Anything – answering almost any question about running your charity.
  • Funding Bid Writer Service.
  • Welfare support and funding for individuals.
  • Charity & non-profit facts and popular questions, for the public and media.

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 Toolkits & Guides:

Managing charity AI Adoption

Charity AI Training

  • Introduction to Charity AI - what it is, the key risks, how to manage these and exploit the opportunities, and what AI can and cannot do.
  • Using ChatGPT - what it is, what it can and cannot do, and how to begin using it immediately.
  • AI and the Future of the Charity Sector - the impact on charities, winners and losers and what we think the future will look like, including how work and jobs will change, and the skills you will need to succeed.

AI Cyber Risk To Charities

AI is already increasing the cyber risk to charities, with jail broken AI bots now available.  We expect frauds to become increasingly convincing and to pose a significant threat to charities and, particularly, vulnerable beneficiaries.  The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) provides advice, guidance and support on cyber security.  Here is their small business guide and also another for individuals and families.

Charity AI FAQs

  • How will AI help charities?  AI fundamentally helps charities in 2 ways.  Firstly, it removes a significant amount of routine admin (digital debt), saving you time and, secondly, it augments your existing capabilities, enabling you to achieve more. AI can be used for creating ideas, summarising, contrasting and comparing, and having fun and being creative.
  • Does AI pose a risk to charity jobs?  Some routine charity jobs will be replaced by AI, but most will be changed and new jobs will be created, so it will not negatively impact charity sector jobs.
  • What charity jobs can’t AI replace?  Some routine, repetitive jobs will go, and the vast majority will change significantly but AI can’t replace jobs that require passion, creativity, emotional intelligence, judgement and insight.
  • Are many charities using AI?  In 2023, about 50% of people have used AI, around a quarter of charities are but only about 4 in 100 have built it into their systems and processes.
  • What are the risks in using AI to write grant applications?  AI can be used to write grant applications, but it knows nothing about your charity, its plans or your project, so you must include the significant amount of detail required for a grant application or it will not be very good and/or will include made up information (hallucinating).
  • Does AI pose a risk to charity bid writers' jobs?  AI can write very effective grant bids, but it will not replace grant writers because it does not have the insight, flair or creativity of a good grant writer and lacks understanding of context and can struggle with long form content.
  • Are there any free AI tools for grant writing?  The Charity Excellence in-system AI bunny can write funding bids for you, but you must register and login to use it – everything is free.

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