Artificial intelligence could threaten fundraising jobs, report warns

08 Feb 2024 News

By sdecoret / Adobe

Fundraising jobs could be replaced by artificial intelligence (AI), according to the findings of a newly published report. 

Artificial intelligence and fundraising ethics, produced by Rogare, explores the ethical issues involved in using the technology in the fundraising profession.  

It warns that AI could reduce the fundraising workforce, particularly at smaller organisations which may decide to spend limited fundraising budgets on AI rather than fundraisers. 

However, it adds there are potential workforce benefits from the incorporation of AI into fundraising practice.

It says AI may facilitate the production of more fundraising copy more quickly and cheaply, helping charities to become more competitive.

AI could also free up fundraisers to concentrate on building personal relationships with donors, it adds.

But the research warns that an overreliance on AI risks eroding fundraising expertise through deskilling and losing human capital. 

‘AI is going to transform fundraising’

The project was led by Cherian Koshy, vice president of software firm iWave. Koshy and the founder of think tank Rogare, Ian MacQuillin, discussed the findings in an exclusive article for Fundraising Magazine published today

“Everyone can agree that AI is going to transform fundraising,” they wrote.

“This is because every one of our stakeholders, including donors, beneficiaries, and volunteers, will be impacted by AI in many aspects of their personal lives. There will be fundraising before AI, and fundraising after AI. And the two will be quite different.”

The research discusses how AI could introduce embedded biases around race, gender, income and more, and propel this through automated work. Therefore, data sources and algorithms should be audited for bias.

It suggests that charities must regulate the technology and clarify where there might be “responsibility gaps”m such as liability for mistakes.

For example, if an AI chatbot provided inappropriate responses to donors or beneficiaries, the research asks whether the charity using the technology would be held responsible.

In the Fundraising Magazine article, Koshy and MacQuillin answer whether AI be used to solve ethical dilemmas in fundraising.

They wrote AI engines such as ChatGPT are not yet equipped to give sophisticated answers to questions about ethical dilemmas in fundraising, but it may be possible in future to train AI on ethical decision-making rules to tackle ethical dilemmas in fundraising.

“At this point, we would strongly caution fundraisers against relying on AI for decision-making and instead use it as part of a larger process of assessment, such as a system to walk the fundraiser through a set of specific questions (an example of this might be the process for deciding whether to accept or refuse potentially problematic donations)”, the piece reads.

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