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Can ChatGPT work for charities?

ChatGPT is a chatbot powered by AI and has become increasingly relied upon in the industry, used to make jobs more efficient and effective. With the creation of ChatGPT, should your charity use its potential, or should you take caution before deciding to integrate something that carries weight in the form of ethical questions?

By Reason Digital · July 13, 2023

The recent Charity Digital Skill report, by Zoe Amar Digital, Think Social Tech and Catalyst has shown that 66% of charities are interested in AI solutions

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What is AI? 

Artificial Intelligence (AI), what exactly is it and does it pose a risk to your charity? Well, the widely understood consensus is that AI is the ability of computer systems being able to perform complex tasks and computerised problem solving that can currently be carried out by the likes of me and you. It is the way in which machine learning can make advanced decisions between programmatic languages and perform expected outcomes. The complexity of AI makes it sound dangerous and ungovernable, but the reality is that AI can be beneficial, and charities should be aware of both the positives and negatives of its use. 


The emergence of ChatGPT: 

ChatGPT is a powerful communication tool, developed by OpenAI, a company that specialises in the creation of AI technologies. It has gained mass popularity since it was brought into fruition in late 2022 and has unsurprisingly caught the attention of industry leaders. In the face of a constantly ever shifting dynamic in working styles, there is a constant need to employ the best tools that can help to propel organisations’ operations and capabilities – this is especially important for charities, who could benefit from ChatGPT in ways that were previously considered untenable. It has revolutionised the use of AI and brought with it a vast number of opportunities that organisations can take advantage of. On an Industry level, change has happened, and these new employable methodologies are causing a stir in the workforce. Could ChatGPT be the future?  


Making ChatGPT work for you: 


1. A platform for easy communication 

Charities are familiar with integrating chatbots into their sites to answer queries but these chatbots are quite static and less adaptive than programs like ChatGPT. For example, Reason Digital has worked on a variety of different functional chatbot projects and there are good case study examples such as ‘Shelter Cymruand Refuge’ which demonstrate the successes of incorporating a chatbot to meet the requirements of answering queries and improving CRM.

One of the ways that ChatGPT can work for your charity is by providing a platform for communication. You can use ChatGPT to provide answers to frequently asked questions, share information about your mission and organisation’s objectives, and update stakeholders on the progress that you are making towards achievable goals. This can be done by using ChatGPT plugins that can be integrated into an existing chatbot program to extend the overall interactive capabilities. For example, you can easily integrate ChatGPT with platforms like Hubspot by using a tool called Botpress. This tool can simplify the process of developing chatbots and integrating bots like ChatGPT to help with automation for your marketing campaigns. This can help to keep supporters engaged and informed, which can lead to increased donations and volunteerism.  

Chatbot example
Shelter Cymru Chatbot example

2. Streamline your fundraising 

Another way that ChatGPT can work for your charity is by helping to streamline fundraising efforts. This is because ChatGPT can be programmed to send out automated messages to donors, or to provide information on how supporters can make donations through other channels. Additionally, ChatGPT can be used to promote fundraising events and campaigns by creating an interface where donors and the like can interact with it and answer questions around fundraising. This can help to increase donations and awareness for your charity’s future ambitions. People are becoming more comfortable with interacting with AI, especially when there is a purpose or cause that they feel motivated by This collected information can then be used in long term fundraising strategies to help donor engagement as ChatGPT’s abilities to collect personal information can bolster a charities’ donor base and in turn, lead to increased lead generation (refer to ‘The risk of data security’ section). 


3. Engage new supporters & donors 

ChatGPT can also be used to help your charity to engage with new supporters and donors. By using ChatGPT to answer questions and provide information about your cause, you can attract new supporters who may have otherwise been hesitant to get involved. This is because ChatGPT can be tasked to produce tailored communication that has been produced through deep analysis of donor interests, habits, and this can help them to resonate better and produce better engagement and trust between your charity and supporters / donors. Additionally, ChatGPT can be programmed to provide personalised messages to supporters, which can help to build relationships and increase loyalty. 


3. Streamline your operations 

Finally, ChatGPT can be used to help your charity by streamlining operations. By automating certain tasks, such as answering frequently asked questions, your charity can free up staff time and resources to focus on other important tasks. This can help to increase efficiency and productivity, which can ultimately lead to greater impact for your charity. This is also true for producing better quality written content, spell checking, grammar, image sourcing, and creating promotional material for campaigns. 

Cyber Security

Controversies around AI:


1. Employee vs AI

One problem of AI could be trying to balance the use of it against the creativity of an existing employee.  With ChatGPT, it can be utilised to create the type of content that many charities may employ someone to do such as creating articles, but this could lead to ethically charged questions over the importance of a role in an organisation in terms of efficiency. With its AI capabilities, the integration of ChatGPT could potentially lead to conflicts of interest in balancing how much scope of responsibility employees will have to create content against the level of content produced through ChatGPT. There could be a fine line between appropriate use of ChatGPT and ensuring it does not take precedence over the creativity of employees and their contributions. It is important to strike a balance where ChatGPT is integrated as a tool for employees to use in tandem with their own creativity. 


2. The question of reliability

Also, there may be a problem of authenticity with content that is produced. Despite the advances in AI, ChatGPT cannot 100% guarantee quality assurance over a person. There is still a need to audit content produced by AI and ensure that the references are factual and meet the requirements of a brands guidelines, something that a person would usually do. Despite the problem faced with automation, there are mitigating factors that can provide a bit of relief in the workplace. For example, the use of automation doesn’t just rely on technical feasibility, but also things like cost of automation, skills, and social acceptance. For charities, the board and stakeholders want to ensure that the best moral decisions are made and employing people with expertise can go beyond what AI can add to a charities value. 


3. The risk of data security

A further problem with ChatGPT specifically applies to GDPR and data collection. Currently, there are ongoing debates about whether ChatGPT complies with national laws on data protection. This is an industry wide complication that is leading businesses to question the use of ChatGPT and at what level it can be applied within their organisation. This is especially important for charities / charitable organisations that work with a lot of sensitive information. Your charity would need to answer questions like ‘How are individuals given information about how their personal data is used by ChatGPT?’ and ‘What types of data protection records need to be kept in relation to data processed via ChatGPT?’.  

In conclusion, ChatGPT can be a valuable tool for your charity to engage with supporters, raise funds, and increase awareness for campaigns, but also carries risks that create an ongoing discussion on ways to mitigate these risks and alleviate the scepticism of using ChatGPT. By providing a platform for easy and convenient communication, fundraising, and engagement, ChatGPT could help your charity to achieve your goals more effectively and in line with your mission and values.