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Hiring AI Talent for Nonprofits

By May 15, 2024No Comments
AI Helpers working at a nonprofit organization in an article about AI helping nonprofit organizations

We are now several years into the “AI Boom”, a proliferation of various programming tools that are widely referred to as Artificial Intelligence (AI). Although the accuracy of this title is still debated, what is clear is that large language models (LLMs) like ChatGPT, image generators like DALL·E, and automated chatbots like BingAI and Bard represent major changes in the way we work. These tools can rapidly automate what had once been time-consuming and difficult work, saving time and resources for tasks that require human decision making and judgment. However, how exactly these tools are utilized depends on the organization and the exact value they can offer.

For nonprofit organizations, the benefits are obvious. Most nonprofits are not as well-resourced as other types of organizations, and they sometimes struggle to hire and retain the talent they need to succeed. Having tools that can rapidly increase the productivity of a grant writer, graphic designer, or a hiring manager could be a paradigm shift for many nonprofits. Technology companies are starting to offer AI training and grants to nonprofits they deem “high impact”, giving them valuable insight into the fundamentals of AI tools and how they can be successfully integrated into a nonprofit workflow.

If you’re a nonprofit professional considering using AI or you are already using it and want to get a deeper understanding of where it is going, here are some key things to consider:

The certainty of AI uncertainty

Despite the huge expectations and piles of money being invested in AI, there is a lot of uncertainty still swirling around the nascent technology. Even prominent AI boosters are tempering expectations, pointing to AI’s energy consumption and lack of profitability as key hurdles that must be overcome. There are also questions about LLMs’ legality, as they harvest data from sources typically without paying the owner or creator. This could potentially expose AI organizations and their clients to legal risk for copyright infringement. This is not to say that AI shouldn’t be considered, but that you should understand the shifting terrain it now sits on, and the potential for future uncertainty.

What do you use AI for?

Computer chip helping a nonprofit organization in an article about AI helping nonprofit organizationsBefore adopting AI, you should come up with a set of key goals and metrics you can use to iteratively incorporate it into your organization. The key benefits of AI are the rapid automation of repetitive tasks and the ability to rapidly generate content. However, that does not mean that the end product is perfect and ready to be used. Realizing the benefits of AI requires you to be careful, working the tools into your processes with plenty of feedback and assessment.

Picking discrete tasks and measuring performance against past methodologies is a great way to assess whether AI is suited for that task. For example, you could use ChatGPT to generate social media posts or fundraising email subject lines and design a program to test engagement. You can then assess the amount of hours spent against the engagement or email open rate and determine whether this approach has saved you time without a dropoff in benefits. This approach will give you time and information to assess how much you wish to incorporate AI, while allowing your team to develop new strategies to work with AI tools and get comfortable with them.

How do you hire AI professionals?

The deluge of funding and interest in AI has created knock-on effects, particularly in the demand for sophisticated hardware, data storage, and for AI-proficient developers and professionals. Incorporating AI slowly and deliberately allows you to determine to what extent you need to hire specifically for AI. Having a dedicated AI or machine learning architect might be necessary, but only if you are using purpose-built AI tools extensively. Otherwise, it might be easier to offer training to your existing team or to make AI proficiency a consideration when hiring new team members.

If you are planning to utilize AI extensively and hire accordingly, you should know that you are competing for one of the more in-demand skill sets in the world. However, this does not mean you won’t be able to hire anyone. Nonprofit work offers unique benefits and challenges, promising to give AI developers and machine learning experts opportunities to work on brand new tools and concepts. While you may not be able to compete with private and public sector salary demands, you can offer developers a chance to work on the cutting edge along with the benefits of knowing their work is furthering your organization’s mission.

Communicating about AI with your team

Whether you plan on investing heavily in AI or you are leaning towards a cautious approach, it’s important that you communicate your goals and ideas to your team clearly. One of the many concerns of AI is that of displacement, namely the displacement of workers who see their jobs automated by these sophisticated new tools. For nonprofit workers, this fear is no less present, as nonprofits often have to make difficult choices in accordance with their limited resources.

As you move forward with AI adoption, you should be as transparent as possible and disclose the significant benefits of AI to your organization, team, and mission. AI tools can allow nonprofit workers to focus on the human to human interaction and connections that so often define nonprofit work. They can also be used to augment and improve efficiency, making your team more performant without taking away jobs or disrupting their lives. While a slower, more deliberate approach is less likely to cause morale shocks and fear among your team members, even an aggressive approach to AI adoption can be seen as an organizational good if you communicate about it properly.


ABOUT US

For more than 40 years, 501(c) Services has been a leader in offering solutions for unemployment costs, claims management, and HR support to nonprofit organizations. Two of our most popular programs are the 501(c) Agencies Trust and 501(c) HR Services. We understand the importance of compliance and accuracy and are committed to providing our clients with customized plans that fit their needs.

Contact us today to see if your organization could benefit from our services.

Are you already working with us and need assistance with an HR or unemployment issue? Contact us here.

The information contained in this article is not a substitute for legal advice or counsel and has been pulled from multiple sources. The Header image was generated using AI technology.

(Image Credit: Canva.com)

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