This is the last newsletter in this series. I hope that the series has been helpful.

Small and mid-sized nonprofits don’t need to be afraid of AI.

They are developing so many specialized AI tools for nonprofits. If you don’t learn about them and start testing which works for you, your nonprofit may find it difficult to keep up with the ones who embraced AI early.

Now, let’s take a look at the last three items that a nonprofit Board are concerned about and how you can start address them.

Inclusivity

Ensuring AI initiatives are designed to be inclusive and representative, avoiding the perpetuation of biases against marginalized communities.

That’s a mouthful. But we need to verify that the AI content being produced is not being trained on data that includes biases.

Here are a few options that you can research to reduce this concern.

I’ve spoken about a few of these options in other steps, so I will mention them and not go into much detail.

  • Conduct Inclusive Stakeholder Engagement:

When you are conducting your Stakeholder Engagement focus groups and meetings, reach out to a diverse range of stakeholders, including underrepresented groups.

  • Establish an AI Ethics Review Process:

Implement a formal review process that involves diverse perspectives. This should include those people with expertise in ethics and inclusion. This review process will assess the potential biases and inclusivity of your proposed AI initiatives.

  • Audit AI Tools for Bias:

Thoroughly search through Google for the AI tools you are interested in. See if any articles pop up about any bias that others found. Also check the AI Tool reviews. Don’t just check reviews from the AI tools website. The reviews on their website are prone to cover up these issues.

  • Provide Inclusive Prompt Design Training:

Invest in training for staff and board members on inclusive prompt design principles. Learning how to use AI prompt frameworks will help. This will ensure they understand how to create useful prompts that are inclusive.

  • Continuously Monitor and Repeat:

It’s crucial to evaluate the impact of the AI tools on your nonprofit’s programs, services, and beneficiaries. You should always be prepared to adjust strategies if the technology is not achieving its intended outcomes.

Building AI Ethics Governance Expertise

Investing in training and capacity-building for board members and staff is crucial to foster a culture of AI ethics awareness and responsible innovation.

  • Leverage Online Courses and Toolkits:

Utilize free or low-cost online courses, webinars, and toolkits that provide training on AI ethics and governance. One resource is the Digital Governance Council which offers courses like “AI Ethics 1 – Governance”. Another is NetHope offers “Artificial Intelligence (AI) Ethics for Nonprofits – Toolkit”.

  • Attend Industry Events and Workshops:

Look for virtual or in-person events, workshops, and conferences hosted by nonprofit technology providers, industry associations, or AI ethics organizations. These events often feature sessions and panels on best practices for responsible AI governance.

The Digital Governance Council offers AI ethics workshops that can be attended by nonprofit representatives.

  • Collaborate with External Experts:

Reach out to local universities, research institutions, or AI ethics consultants to explore opportunities for partnerships or advisory relationships. These external experts can provide guidance, training, and support in developing your nonprofit’s AI ethics governance framework.

It’s always a good idea to engage with the your community, including donors, volunteers, funders, and vendors as part of your AI governance efforts.

  • Peer-to-Peer Learning and Networking:

Connect with other small to mid-sized nonprofits, either directly or through industry associations, to share best practices, lessons learned, and resources on AI ethics governance. Collaborative learning and peer support can be invaluable.

  • Designate an AI Ethics Champion:

Identify a board member or staff member who can champion the development and implementation of your nonprofit’s AI ethics governance framework. This individual will be responsible for coordinating training, staying up to date on industry developments, and ensuring your AI practices align with ethical principles.

Striking the Balance Between Innovation and Caution

Carefully evaluating the risks and benefits of AI adoption, while maintaining a balanced approach, is essential to drive sustainable impact.

How?

  • Conduct Thorough Risk Assessments:

Identify and evaluate the potential risks associated with AI implementation, such as data privacy, algorithmic bias, and reputational harm. Your nonprofit needs to plan how you will deal with these situations when they happen and put safeguards in to prevent security and reputation harm.

  • Implement a Phased Approach:

Rather than a full-scale, organization-wide AI rollout, adopt a phased implementation strategy, starting with a pilot or proof-of-concept project. This allows your nonprofit to test the technology, assess its impact and make necessary adjustments before scaling up.

  • Collaborate with External Experts:

Engage with AI experts, ethicists, and industry peers to gain insights and guidance on best practices for responsible AI implementation. Leverage their expertise to help your nonprofit navigate the complexities of AI adoption and maintain a balanced approach.

  • Transparent Communication with Stakeholders:

Regularly communicate with donors, volunteers, and other stakeholders about your nonprofit’s AI initiatives, including the rationale, benefits, and potential risks. Demonstrate your nonprofit’s commitment to responsible innovation and address any concerns or misconceptions.

  • Continuous Monitoring and Improvement:

Establish mechanisms to continuously monitor the performance, impact, and ethical alignment of your AI initiatives. Regularly review and update your nonprofit’s AI governance policies and practices to address emerging issues and evolving practices.

Collect Your Dot…

I hope I haven’t scared you off from using AI in your nonprofit. I see AI tools as being a great help and improving workflows.

Every nonprofit needs to do their due diligence to use this checklist in their research. I know your time is very limited and you are probably short staffed. Whatever time and effort you put into this will not be wasted.

Small and mid-sized nonprofits that aren’t thinking about implementing AI tools will be left behind.

Think of this as the beginning of your nonprofits exponential growth, so you need to think through these issues to protect your reputation, clients, and supporters.

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

See you next time!