Developing Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems to support nonprofit organizations can be challenging due to the unique nature of the problems they address.
Recently, Datakind , a non-profit organization that provides data to other non-profit organizations, created a system capable of assessing the level of poverty in different areas of Africa using satellite images, creating a new type of resource allocation decision. This is just one example of how artificial intelligence can be used in the associative field.
Developing Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems to support nonprofit organizations can be challenging due to the unique nature of the problems they address. Off-the-shelf AI systems may not be adequate, and developing custom systems may be cost-prohibitive. However, there is a growing awareness among donors of the value of such AI systems and financial support is beginning to be provided to develop AI capabilities for applications in these settings. At the same time, non-profit organizations focused on AI also receive funding to build platforms based on intelligent systems for other organizations to benefit from.
In general terms, AI can support the needs of associations in three broad areas:
- Automation and improvement of organizational processes. For example, AI techniques can be used in fundraising systems to identify potential donors, predict giving habits and create personalized campaigns to increase engagement and donations; also to streamline operations such as recruitment, onboarding and volunteer management.
- Understand the data at your disposal through its analysis. It allows you to understand situations in a new way. It has been used to identify abnormal patterns in data, to classify data into different categories, to identify trends and patterns, to interpret human language and understand user sentiment, and to identify common themes or issues. It can also be used for predicting future trends based on past information.
- Relate to people (customers, employees, suppliers, users). Help organizations deliver programs and services more efficiently and effectively, for example, chatbots can provide 24/7 support; create personalized recommendations; gamify environments to create engaging experiences to encourage users to engage.
The use of AI can be very advantageous for organizations, but they can encounter typical problems such as inadequate access to data, biases that are accentuated in some systems when considering the opinions of the population, the shortage of qualified professionals in AI and difficulties during implementation due to a lack of understanding and the limitations of AI systems.
In addition, AI projects can face setbacks and fail due to the difficulty of implementing changes to existing processes and systems. Educating about the capabilities and limitations of AI and the need for constant monitoring and improvement is essential.
The digital divide remains a persistent problem and more concerted efforts are needed to ensure that the most vulnerable populations receive education and have access to its benefits.
However, there is also a growing trend towards a new type of access through robots that can engage with humans in new ways bridging this digital divide. For example, robots are sometimes being used to provide additional support to healthcare staff by helping dementia patients to relax, or to elderly people to be able to support them in their day-to-day lives.
In short, AI can provide new approaches for social advancement and facilitate the desired impact on society if education is fostered and collaboration with data-centric organizations is sought to learn and create this new shared future.