Random Thoughts

AI for Charities & Social Enterprises

You’ve more than likely seen a lot of articles and photos recently about Artificial Intelligence tools that have recently been made available to the public. We’ve spent a bit of time playing around with some of these tools to see how they could benefit Charities and Social Enterprises, so we thought we’d write about our initial thoughts and experience with them here.


What is AI?

Artificial Intelligence refers to tasks that computers can perform that would otherwise require human intelligence or skills. This includes translating, writing and even creating artwork based on prompts that it’s given. AI in various forms have been around for years and years, being used in many applications including social media algorithms, Google translate and google search for example – but it’s becoming way more powerful now, and publicly accessible for everyday tasks. That brings a lot of concerns from a moral point of view, as the lines are being blurred between reality and fiction but there’s no doubt that it’s a powerful and positive tool if utilised in the right way.


In simple terms, these AI models have been “trained” by sifting through vast amounts of data and imagery so that it is able to produce good results based on the prompts it’s given. There are loads of different tools out there, but ChatGPT (writing and information) and MidJourney (digital art creation) are ones you’ll see people using quite a lot. There’s hundreds of tools coming out each day now though, most recently Google Bard.

Quickfire findings from using them for a day or two

Here’s a few things I learnt from using them over just a few hours:


🤯 It’s scarily impressive. We need to acknowledge the dangers of how AI can be used in the wrong hands (and hopefully those conversations are already happening at government level), but there’s no doubt about how good this technology is even at its most basic level.

🌄 One area where AI is set to become very powerful is image and artwork generation. I was able to generate artwork of a busy cafe in a city at sunset with ease on MidJourney (see below), even with only a few hours of practice. It's clear that generating landscapes of any kind is incredibly simple with this technology.

AI Sunset Image generated using MidJourney

🤔 Hopefully I won’t regret saying this, but there’ll always be room for creatives despite this technology. It’s great at generating landscapes and helping improve your writing, but it’s terrible at coming up with bespoke design ideas or strategic creative work (in its current form).That may change, but basically the conclusion is designers, charity owners and strategists should look to understand how this technology can help them do better work, and not see it as a threat.

✅ Lastly, AI is an excellent learning tool. ChatGPT, for example, can help you understand complex ideas and themes in simple ways.

But that’s not what you’re here for, here are a few ideas for how you could use it within your charity or social enterprise:


Supporting with writing or content creation


ChatGPT or other tools like Grammarly can help give clarity to your writing and content when professional copywriting or proofreading isn’t available. It does need fairly strong writing to be inputted into it to work properly, but it can be very helpful. You may want to explore it to assist with report writing, social media captions or to simplify an idea you have (don’t do this until you’ve read the warnings below though). It can also help generate some title ideas and ways of repurposing your existing content. All in all, this application for AI can save a lot of time and processing power if you or someone in your team would like some assistance with creative writing or marketing ideas.


Supporting with ideation or simplifying information


As mentioned above, AI does an excellent job of breaking down information into bitesize and manageable chunks. Is there something someone said in a meeting that you don’t understand? Do you want to understand a complex process? AI can help you do that while also generating variations of your own ideas.


Simplifying complex tasks


This one is a bit more specific to your productivity software or CRM, but most software is now integrating further AI tools to assist with productivity each day. As many of you will know a personal favourite of mine is Notion, which has a brilliant AI feature which can find meeting actions, simplify lists and sort tasks. That doesn’t sound overly complex, but these smaller tasks add up each day and in the charity world it’s even more important for us to save time and be as efficient as possible, so these small features can reap big rewards for you and your team. I’m sure there are even more uses for developing your workflow using AI, but we haven’t explored it any further than that as yet!


Solutions such as Zapier integrates AI to connect your software platforms together, so that can be an effective tool to automate digital tasks inc. CalendarManagement, email marketing and fundraising processes if you’re interested in looking into this further.


Improving your productivity


We mentioned this above, but even if you don’t want to make use of AI for anything else it can easily help you to shorten your to-do list or start to release your time from the grip of smaller, tedious tasks. If you’re doing a lot of standardised tasks, then why not look to see if you could integrate some extra processing power into your day to day?

Things NOT to do when testing these tools


As with all new technology, there are general disclaimers…


1. Read the small print before using them (if you have the time!!)

2. Don’t input sensitive information or ideas you’d like to protect. Often these models are being trained by what’s being inputted and the data can be stored, so if you want to avoid someone stealing your idea or using this information, best to keep it general.

3. Don’t 100% trust it! It’s pretty accurate for a lot of information but there’s inevitably going to be some challenges like with any technology. Don’t 100% trust it but do your own fact-checking and research alongside it if you can, especially if you’re using it for public-facing work!


It may be for you, or it may not be but it’s worth giving it a try just from a learning perspective!