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Charities Aid Foundation's Giving Thought podcast explored the big issues, themes and news stories relating to philanthropy and the work of civil society. 

This podcast is no longer produced.


Oct 29, 2019

In episode 59 we talk to speaker, author and expert on all things non-profit digital, Beth Kanter, about the impact of technology on non-profits and the challenges and opportunities that Artificial Intelligence (AI) will bring. Including:

  • Has social media changed the game for nonprofits in terms of how they communicate?
  • Have some of these tools levelled the playing field between big and small (or well-known and obscure) organisations?
  • How well-equipped are nonprofits to take advantage of the potential of digital? If some organisations are struggling, what are the key barriers?
  • Is there a danger that social media and online discourse create perverse incentives to sensationalise or simplify issues, because everyone is competing for scarce attention? Does this present a particular challenge for nonprofits?
  • If digital tools enable people to form groups easily and organise in new ways, does this make traditional nonprofits less relevant as people look to networked models of social change?
  • How can traditional nonprofits embrace some of the benefits of networked or decentralized approaches? Does this require a major change of structure, or just mindset?
  • Is it better to focus on bringing existing non-profit leaders up to speed with technology and digital, or to focus on supporting the development of future leaders who might be more naturally comfortable with tech? Or do we not need to make this choice?
  • To what extent is digital transformation actually about employment practices? (E.g. flexible/remote working, making nonprofit work more appealing than private or public sector) How many nonprofits are actually doing this well at the moment?
  • Do nonprofits need to play a role in addressing the impact of social media on mental health and social interactions? If so, how?
  • Why is AI a big deal for nonprofits?
  • What impact will AI have on philanthropy and charitable giving?
  • Are there good examples of nonprofits using conversational AI and chatbots in smart ways?
  • Are there good examples of nonprofits using AI to improve their own processes (e.g. data entry, financial risk monitoring, grant applications etc.)?
  • What barriers do nonprofits face when it comes to using AI?
  • Do more nonprofits need to think about partnering with tech companies? What are the opportunities and challenges of doing so?
  • Can nonprofits play a meaningful role in ensuring that tech is designed and implemented ethically? How far are we from making this happen in reality? What can we do to close the gap?
  • What role is there for nonprofits in addressing some of the negative impacts of technology that we are seeing (e.g. algorithmic bias, automation replacing jobs etc.)?
  • How is the nonprofit workplace going to change over the next decade or so?


Related Content:


-Beth’s website

-Book site for The Happy Healthy Nonprofit

-Beth’s article (with Allison Fine) for Stanford Social Innovation Review, “Leveraging the Power of Bots for Civil Society

-CAF’s Giving Thought micro site on AI

-CAF’s Machine Made Goods report

-Rhod’s blog on “Charity 2037: 13 Jobs we might all be doing in 20 year’s time

-Crisis TextLine’s use of AI