Can artificial intelligence (AI) be useful in the work of churches, schools, and non-profits today? The messages about (AI) in today’s media can be confusing. Some reports focus on the dangers of AI and claim that the human element of our work will be replaced by it. Others have shown that AI offers remarkable tools that can enhance our work and creativity, making our jobs more effective and interesting. How can AI be used in our churches, schools, and non-profits today in a way that helps and makes sense?
First, what exactly is AI? Is it an artificial brain somewhere making decisions for us without our knowledge? No. AI is the use of predictive mathematical formulas called algorithms. You are probably using basic forms of AI already without even realizing it! For example, when you are texting with your phone and see suggested words popping up, that’s AI at work! When you take a photo with your phone and push a little icon called “enhance,” and suddenly the colors pop, that’s AI at work again. When you are typing on your computer, and the spelling or grammar checker suggests a change, that’s also AI at work for you.
In the non-profit world, we use software for just about everything these days. We use databases to keep track of our donors. We use spreadsheets to track our donations and budgets. We use word processors and graphics programs to write our letters, design our bulletins, and make our publications. Until recently, all of these programs worked discretely, that is, independently of each other. Now, with better software and the help of AI, we can get these programs working together without having to manually import and export data from one program to the other. GiveCentral is a company that helps non-profits like schools and churches to use AI to make the user experience simple, fast, and seamless. By the use of complex algorithms your donor can sign up to the non-profit’s database by simply using a phone number for texting, key words, and entering their data. No longer does the data need to be entered manually by the school or church’s staff! Plus, the donor can update his or her own information, pledge amounts, or even send requests to the school or pastor by text. It doesn’t require the donor to use a computer program or even open an app on their phone.
Other companies are also using AI in similar ways so that the focus between a donor and a non-profit can be on the relationship rather than the paperwork. This use of AI allows for the non- profit to communicate quickly and well with its donors through text, email, or even old-fashioned paper mail if that’s what the donor prefers. It’s not a matter of communicating with your donor community in only one way, but in as many ways as they prefer! The use of AI allows all of this to happen quickly and easily.
Here are some of the benefits of using AI in non-profits.
One of the best aspects of using AI for non-profits is that for staff it can automate tasks that used to take hours to perform, and which sometimes required the use of multiple programs. The automated tasks include such things as registration for events, creating email lists, and automated data entry, just to mention a few. These automated tasks free up staff time and can help reduce administrative costs.
Do not let the word analytics overwhelm you! What analytics means is that through the help of AI the staff can arrange for reports from your donor base with ease. You might want to know who your largest donors are, or who your most frequent donors are, for example. You may want a report on when and how frequently you communicated with them. Perhaps you want to start a capital campaign and you want to identify the range of potential pledges you can anticipate. AI based fund raising tools make all these tasks easy and fast.
KNOWING YOUR COMMUNITY
AI based non-profit tools can help you to quickly know essential information about the make-up of the community you serve. For example, you can quickly get reports on the number of families with school-aged children, or of families whose children are now college-aged. In churches they can provide particularly vital information for pastoral work. You can quickly identify who hasn’t donated in a while, or those who are suddenly giving more! You can also identify those who haven’t communicated for a while, allowing you to reach out and try to connect with them. You
can create reports on those who are sick, homebound, widowed, and so forth. You can keep track of your organizations and ministries’ membership lists, finances, and activities. The possibilities are nearly endless.
ENHANCING YOUR RELATIONSHIPS
Having up to date knowledge about the members of your community and reducing administrative time allows you to connect more frequently with your people whether through written communications, phone calls, or spending personal time with them. This is especially important for schools and churches. Members of congregations love to be known and yearn for a sense of connection with their community of faith. Recent studies have shown that the chief reason people stop going to church is not about matters of theology or about the leadership of
church hierarchy. Rather, the number one reason people leave churches is because they feel unknown and disconnected. It may seem counter intuitive, but AI tools can actually help pastors, principles, and staff to be better connected with the members of their communities and help community members better connect with each other. Today, with numerous parishes being combined into larger congregations and new parishes being built like megachurches, building that sense of community, of being known and connected is especially important.
Finally, it is important to remember that AI offers tools that can help in so many ways. It cannot replace human connection, but it can enhance human connection for non-profit organizations. Is your church, school, or non-profit up to date with the use of AI? Would you like to learn more about which tools could benefit your work and mission? Companies like GiveCentral are leading the way! If AI tools could benefit your organization, call us for a demonstration. GiveCentral will walk this journey of change with you and help you get your best results. You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.