I’m glad you returned for part 2. This topic is huge, so be prepared for more issues pertaining to the subject.

Protecting you nonprofit from unintended AI issues should be a top priority of all nonprofit Boards.

Use these steps to create your own Nonprofit AI Roadmap!

We left off with issue number three, which is transparency.

Now let’s talk about…

Data Privacy

Nonprofits handle sensitive donor and client data, so maintaining strict privacy controls and compliance with regulations is paramount.

Review relevant data protection laws (e.g., HIPAA, GDPR) and determine how your AI tools handle these laws. Contact the offices of the AI Tools you are evaluating to find concrete answers.

Here are four resources to research the US data protection regulations:

USA Federal Data Guidance: This source provides an overview of the current federal data privacy landscape in the US, including information on the pending federal privacy legislation (HR 8152).

Data Protection Laws and Regulations Report 2023-2024 USAICLG.com: This comprehensive report covers the relevant US federal and state-level data protection laws and regulations, including HIPAA, CCPA, SHIELD Act, and more.

Law in United States – DLA Piper Global Data Protection Laws of the World: This resource delves into the specifics of US data security and privacy laws, including sector-specific regulations like GLBA and HIPAA.

10 Data Protection Regulations You Need to Know About: While this source focuses on global data protection regulations, it does include a section on the EU’s GDPR, which has implications for US organizations that handle EU citizen data.

There is no single comprehensive federal data privacy law in the US currently, but rather a patchwork of sector-specific regulations and state-level laws. The ICLG.com report and the DLA Piper resource provide the most detailed and up-to-date information on the current US data protection legal landscape.

And consult with legal and IT experts if there are still questions.

Resource Constraints

Investing in AI expertise, technology, and staff training are all great. But it can be a significant challenge for nonprofits with limited budgets and staff resources.

Let’s review how you can overcome your Board resource constraints concerns.

  • Conduct a cost-benefit analysis. Thoroughly evaluate the costs associated with implementing and maintaining the AI tool, including licensing fees, infrastructure, and staff training.

Quantify the potential benefits, such as improved efficiency, increased fundraising, and cost savings, to demonstrate the return on investment.

In an article, Donorbox suggests that “as AI technology becomes more widespread, costs are likely to decrease,” so keep this in mind.

  • Develop a Phased Implementation Plan: Propose a gradual, step-by-step approach to implementing the AI tool, allowing the organization to build expertise and adjust budgets accordingly.

Start with a pilot program or proof-of-concept to demonstrate the tool’s value before scaling up organization-wide.

  • Leverage Training and Support Resources: Investigate the training and onboarding resources provided by the AI tool vendor, which may include tutorials, webinars, and hands-on support.

Explore online courses, workshops, and industry events that can help build the board’s and staff’s AI expertise.

Highlight Efficiency and Cost-Saving Opportunities: Demonstrate how the AI tool can automate repetitive tasks, freeing up staff time and resources to focus on higher-impact activities.

Quantify the potential cost savings, such as reduced administrative overhead or improved donor targeting and engagement.

AI Ethics

Image by Markus Winkler from Pixabay


Ethical Discernment

Establishing a framework for ethical decision-making around AI use is crucial to address subjective dilemmas and ensure alignment with the organization’s values.

In a previous issue, I stressed that all nonprofits need an AI Usage Policy. Here we are talking about a related but distinct document.

An AI Ethics Policy establishes the overarching principles and guidelines that an organization will adhere to when using AI systems.

The key focus of an AI Ethics Policy is on ensuring the ethical and responsible use of AI, addressing concerns around fairness, transparency, accountability, privacy, and other ethical considerations.

Here are some tips for creating and implementing such a framework from BoardEffect:

  1. Ensure that the AI Ethics policy aligns with the nonprofit’s mission and core values. AI should support and enhance the organization’s goals. Define the purpose of the AI policy and specify its scope, including which AI initiatives and applications it covers.
  2. Focus on the human element, making sure that employees know that AI is going to help them work more creatively and strategically, not take their jobs.
  3. Define the roles and responsibilities of individuals, board committees, and staff members responsible for oversight and implementation.
  4. Plan for training the board and staff in AI ethics, responsible AI practices, and the organization’s AI policy.
  5. Explain how the organization will engage with the community, including donors, volunteers, funders, and vendors. Gather feedback and address their concerns regarding AI initiatives.
  6. Outline the process for reviewing, updating, and approving changes to the AI policy, involving relevant parties as needed.
  7. Articulate the ethical principles that guide AI initiatives, such as fairness, transparency, accountability, privacy, and nondiscrimination. Emphasize the organization’s commitment to identifying and mitigating bias in AI algorithms and data sources.
  8. Address how the organization will comply with AI-related laws and regulations, including data protection laws, and describe how the organization will stay up to date with changes in legal requirements.
  9. Develop a timeline for the stages of implementation of the AI policy and initiatives.

While an AI Ethics Policy and an AI Usage Policy are distinct, they can be combined into a single comprehensive document.

The combined document could start with the overarching ethical principles and guidelines, followed by the more operational usage policies and procedures.

This approach ensures that the ethical foundation is clearly established and then translated into practical, actionable guidelines for the organization’s AI implementation.

By integrating the ethics and usage policies, the organization can demonstrate a holistic and consistent approach to responsible AI governance.

Collect your dot…

AI is here to stay. Developing your own Nonprofit AI Roadmap will get all parties involved. You will also understand everyone’s concerns so you can research to mitigate any issues.

Boards and staff shouldn’t be afraid of incorporating AI into their workflows. But you need to do your research first.

I have a free list of the top AI Tools for nonprofits to get you started with finding the right tool!