How to Choose the Best AI for Your Charity

The best AI for non profits - free and paid for text and imagery AI, and the pros and cons of each, including pricing and non profit discounts.

How to Choose the Best AI for Your Charity

AI for non profits is becoming increasingly important but also confusing plus some is free and there are non profit discounts on others, so choosing the best for your non profit isn't easy.  This simple guide helps you find the best AI for your non profit, by looking at the free versions, the pros and cons of each, including pricing and non profit discounts.

I've started with a top level summary, including my own views on which might be best for different types of non profits.  Below that is a quick summary of the best know types of AOI for non profits and below that, each with more detail including links to any non profit discounts.

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The Best AI for Non Profits - Free and Non Profit Discounts

Our Charity AI Benchmarking survey found that ChatGPT and Microsoft's Copilot for 365 were the most commonly used AI for non profits.  Bear in mind that both paid for versions work in real time but only the free version of Copilot does.

Best Text AI for Non Profits.

  • Best for Medium to Large Non Profits.  In my view the best long term option for medium to large non profits particularly Office users, will be Microsoft 365 Copilot.
  • Best for Small Non Profits.  However, for non profits that don't want, or don't have the expertise to fully exploit Copilot integration, I think that staying with a standalone system, such as ChatGPT,  will be fine.

Both have free versions and both have a non profit discount or grant. See below for more detail on each and the pricing and discounts.

Best Imagery AI for Non Profits.

  • Best for Beginners.  If you're new to imagery AI and/or not a design person, DALL E is probably the best.
  • Best for Slightly More Experienced.  Canva is paid for but, if you're a registered charity or CIC, you get free access to Premium (see below).  It's very good and quite simple to use, so probably the best for you.
  • Best for Experienced.  For non profits with design skills and willing to pay, Midjourney is probably the best.

However, non profits are using an increasing range of AI, so I've summarised the most commonly used below.

The Best AI for Non Profits - Summary

Listed with each is the percentage on non profits that reported using it in our Charity AI Benchmarking Survey in June 2024.

  1. ChatGPT (55%): It’s like a virtual assistant that can chat with you. It’s really good at answering questions and can help with things like customer support.
  2. Copilot for 365 (21%): This one is like a helper for writing documents or emails. It’s especially good for people who use Microsoft Office a lot.
  3. Gemini (13%): This is Google’s tool that can help with things like planning events, writing drafts for blogs or emails, and even helping with fundraising.
  4. Claude(1%): Anthropic's less well known but it’s supposed to be good at respecting people’s rights and being ethical.
  5. Meta’s AI (4%): Meta (the company that owns Facebook) has AI tools that can help with things like sorting out data and understanding patterns. It’s quite techy and might be more suited for charities that have a bit of tech know-how.

Imagery.

  1. DALL-E (3%): Imagine being able to describe a picture with words, and then this tool creates that picture for you. That’s what DALL-E does.  I think this is the best option for beginners.
  2. Midjourney (1%): This can produce far more sophisticated imagery but is quite a bit more complicated to use.

And what AI would be best for your non profit depends on a range of factors, so I've expanded this below to include more detail, the pros and cons and pricing and non profit discounts.

Whom Should We Buy Licences for?

AI will reduce admin and augment capabilities at every level.  Premium versions will add to this.  They may be more up to date, faster, higher quality and/or more accurate and may offer customisation options, collaboration, advanced search capabilities, personalised assistance and integration with other systems.

  • Start by asking yourself what data do we hold, where AI might offer us real opportunities?
    • For example, donor, or beneficiary data.
  • Then, what other systems will have AI that might do some or all of the above in certain areas?
    • For example AI in a CRM or similar.
  • Then asking yourself:
    • What activities do we undertake that are of particularly high value to us?
    • What staff/grades/teams would:
      • Most benefit from the advantages above?
      • Will be heavy users of AI?
  • Once you've identified whom you think it might work best for, ask yourself how much work will this save, how much better will be what they produce and.
    • Taken together, is that enough benefit to warrant spending the money on this?

The Best AI For Non Profits - Detail, Pricing and Discounts

Text-Based AI.

  1. ChatGPT (by OpenAI)
    • Type: Text-based
    • Pros: User-friendly for conversations and text generation; answers questions, writes content, and assists with tasks.
    • Cons: May provide inaccurate or irrelevant answers; limited contextual understanding.
    • Key Feature: Conversational AI that generates human-like text.  It now has Internet access but not for the free version.  It's up to 2021 with some limited info up to 2023.
    • Pricing: Four subscription plans, including Free, Plus, Team and Enterprise. The Free plan offers you access to GPT 3.5 and limited access to GPT-4o, along with limited access to file uploads, web browsing, data analysis and custom GPTs.
    • Non-profit Discount: Open AI for Non Profits, includes discounts for ChatGPT Team and Enterprise.
  2. Copilot 365 (by Microsoft)
    • Type: Text-based
    • Pros: Integrates with Microsoft Office apps; aids in writing, data analysis, and productivity.
    • Cons: Requires a Microsoft 365 subscription; confined to the Microsoft ecosystem.
    • Key Feature: Boosts productivity within Microsoft Office applications.
    • Free Version: Not available; service is subscription-based.
    • Non-profit Support: Microsoft provides technology grants and solutions for eligible non-profits.  They say it's 'not yet' available for Copilot.
  3. Meta (by Facebook/Meta Platforms)
    • Type: Text and image-based
    • Pros: Robust social media integration; ideal for content creation and management.
    • Cons: Privacy concerns due to data collection and requires an understanding of social media algorithms.
    • Key Feature: AI tools for creating and analysing social media content.
    • Free Version: Basic social media tools are available at no cost.
  4. Gemini (by Google)

    • Type: Text-based
    • Pros:
      • Advanced AI with text-based interaction.
      • Supports over 40 languages.
    • Cons:
      • Some limitations in features compared to other regions.
      • The most advanced version, Gemini Ultra, is not yet available.
    • Key Feature:
      • Gemini Pro offers a sophisticated AI experience, with capabilities that include logical thinking, mathematical problem-solving, and programming challenges.
    • Free Version:  Available in the UK but not Europe yet (June 2024).
  5. Jasper AI
    • Type: Text-based
    • Pros: I think it's optimised for marketing material.  Outstanding for content creation; intuitive interface with various writing templates.
    • Cons: Requires a monthly subscription; less customisation than human writers.
    • Key Feature: AI assistant for producing marketing and business content.
    • Free Version: Not available; service is subscription-based.

Image-Based AI

  1. DALL-E (by OpenAI)
    • Type: Image-based
    • Pros: Generates unique images from text descriptions; useful for creating visuals and illustrations.
    • Cons: Might need several attempts for the desired image; not ideal for detailed professional design.
    • Key Feature: Produces images from text prompts.
    • Free Version: Limited free credits; additional credits are purchasable.
    • Discounts for Non Profits: OpenAI may offer discounts for non-profits.
  2. Midjourney
    • Type: Image-based
    • Pros: Produces high-quality artistic images; excellent for creative and marketing visuals.
    • Cons: Less predictable than traditional design; requires precise prompts.
    • Key Feature: Creates artistic images from text prompts.
    • Free Version: Not available; service is subscription-based.
  3. Adobe Firefly
    • Type: Image-based
    • Pros: Integrates with Adobe Creative Cloud; advanced image generation and editing.
    • Cons: Adobe subscription needed; steep learning curve.
    • Key Feature: AI-powered design and image manipulation tools.
    • Free Version: Not available; service is subscription-based.
    • Non-profit Support: Adobe offers special pricing for non-profits.
  4. Canva
    • Type: Image-based
    • Pros: Easy-to-use design tools; wide template range for graphics, posters, and presentations.
    • Cons: Limited advanced features; free version has restricted templates and assets.
    • Key Feature: Platform for creating diverse visual content.
    • Free Version: Available with limited features and assets.
    • Non Profit Discount.  Canva offers free Premium access to eligible non profits.
  5. Stable Diffusion
    • Type: Image-based
    • Pros: Open-source model for image generation; adaptable for specific needs.
    • Cons: Technical knowledge required for setup; may need substantial computing resources.
    • Key Feature: Open-source image creation from text prompts.
    • Free Version: Available, setup required.
  6. RunwayML
    • Type: Image-based
    • Pros: Accessible AI for creative projects; no coding needed, user-friendly interface.
    • Cons: Limited features in the free version; some features may need more processing power.
    • Key Feature: Platform for AI-powered video and image editing.
    • Free Version: Available with limited features.

Combined Text and Image-Based AI

Using these will require technical skill.

  1. Google Lens
    • Type: Text and image-based
    • Pros: Analyses images for text-based insights; useful for object identification, translation, and information retrieval.
    • Cons: Requires a camera-equipped mobile device; internet-dependent.
    • Key Feature: Tool for image recognition and text analysis.
    • Free Version: Available.
  2. Hugging Face Transformers
    • Type: Text and image-based
    • Pros: Extensive pre-trained models for text and image tasks; open-source and customisable.
    • Cons: Technical expertise needed for implementation; limited ready-to-use solutions.
    • Key Feature: Versatile AI models for text and image applications.
    • Free Version: Available, with extra paid features.
    • Non-profit Support: Hugging Face provides free access to models for non-profits, with additional features available for purchase.

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To access help and resources on anything to do with running a charity, including funding, click the AI Bunny icon in the bottom right of your screen and ask it short questions, including key words.  Register, then login and the in-system AI Bunny is able to write funding bids and download 40+ charity policy templates as well.

This AI for Non Profits Article Is Not Professional Advice

This AI for non profits is for general interest only and does not constitute professional advice.  I'm not an IT expert and AI is very rapidly evolving, so not able to provide this, and I cannot write guidance that is absolutely up to date or that covers every non profit or eventuality.  I have included links to relevant regulatory guidance, which you must check to ensure that whatever you create reflects correctly your charity’s needs and your obligations.  In using this resource, you accept that I have no responsibility whatsoever from any harm, loss or other detriment that may arise from your use of my work.  If you need professional advice, you must seek this from someone else. To do so, register, then login and use the Help Finder directory to find pro bono support. Everything is free.

Ethics note.  I've been designing and building AI since 2022 but  don't use all of the generative AI above.  I do use both ChatGPT and Copilot, so I asked both to help me write this article.

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