Why Nonprofits Hear About Artificial Intelligence From CRM Providers
One of the most rapid diffusions of innovation in human history is the creation and adoption of the internet. It started in 1989 and was considered widely adopted within a decade (61% of adults in the U.S.) — as noted by Everett Rogers in his talk at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. As we look back on it from today’s vantage point, the people adopting the innovation were urban, upper-middle class, computer owners. Access to computers was the critical driver to adopting the internet. To address this finding, community centers were set up in poor, rural areas to enable access to the web for the purpose of bringing on the late majority and laggards to this new innovation.
During the research for the “State of Artificial Intelligence in the Nonprofit Sector (SAINS),” our team found that 57% of nonprofit practitioners noted hearing about artificial intelligence (AI) primarily from their constituent relationship manager (CRM) providers. The fact that CRM providers are knowledge providers to new innovations (more than nonprofit associations or publications) means that CRM providers hold a unique power to influence decision-making when it comes to where nonprofit organizations will invest.
The SAINS report only touched briefly on the topic, so we wanted to dive more deeply into the topic. What we found was a few interesting takeaways. These are:
- Large organization employees hear about AI from their CRM Providers
- Generation X practitioners rely on CRMs for AI data
- Thought leaders are less likely to rely on CRM providers for AI knowledge
- Most people believe we need an ethical framework for AI
Let’s dive into each of these a little more.
Large Organization Employees Hear About AI From CRM Providers
Practitioners from large organizations are 32% more likely to hear about AI from their CRM provider, while smaller organizations are more likely to hear about AI from an association involvement (47% for organizations with 11 to 49 employees) and other nonprofits (48% for organizations with 10 or fewer employees). There are a few potential reasons for this trend, though the most likely is that CRMs are more fully adopted in larger organizations while smaller organizations rely less on their CRMs.
For instance, an organization with an entire team of fundraisers has to manage their data across those individuals, thus relying heavily on their CRM where an organization with only one to five fundraisers spends more time talking to other nonprofits and nonprofit associations, while doing more of their work more manually (e.g. Excel spreadsheets).
Generation X Practitioners Rely on CRMs for AI Data
Generation X practitioners are the most likely generation to rely on their CRM provider (35% of respondents) to learn about AI data, while Baby Boomers, the Silent Generation and Generation Z are less likely to rely on it. Considering the concept of a “customer relationship management” software was first coined in 1995 (when Generation X practitioners were age 16 to 30), the concept of a CRM was a hot topic during the formative years for these practitioners. Whereas for older generations, CRMs became hot after they were established in their career.
Thought Leaders Are More Likely to Less Likely to Rely on CRM Providers for AI Knowledge
While 68% of practitioners who rely on CRM providers believe nonprofit AI aligns with their values and beliefs, innovators (44%) and early adopters (13%) rely less on CRMs and more on non-industry publications (31% and 33%, respectively) and other non-CRM technology providers for knowledge (33% and 37%, respectively). Since innovators in the sector are working directly with AI providers rather than relying on CRM providers as gatekeepers for new technology diffusion, this makes sense. Innovators and early adopters also rely on a number of external resources to learn about AI (2.5 and 2.8 resources on average).
Most People Believe We Need an Ethical Framework for AI
Most importantly, 79% of practitioners who learn about AI from their CRM providers believe an ethical framework needs to be in place before widespread rollout. This aligns with a number of trends happening in the world, including government regulation proposed to regulate AI and nonprofits focused on AI ethics.
As we continue to dive into the SAINS data, it is exciting to create profiles for how people learn about AI and where they sit along the diffusion of innovation cure. People who learn about AI from their CRM provider are likely to be Generation X’ers working in large nonprofit organizations who are somewhat early adopters of technology who believe we need to do more around AI ethics before fully rolling out AI broadly across the industry.
Free Resource: Have you downloaded the SAINS report yet? It’s the most comprehensive analysis of AI for social good available.
Jared Sheehan is the CEO of PwrdBy. He started PwrdBy in 2015 after leaving Deloitte Consulting, where he was a senior consultant in their supply chain sustainability practice and worked with clients such as TOMS Shoes, Starwood hotels and Panasonic.
Jared is a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt and has built numerous successful products in partnership with clients, including the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals fundraising application, In Flight, which helps manage 75K+ corporate partners and raise $400M annually. Jared is the creator of the Amelia and NeonMoves mobile apps.
Jared graduated Summa Cum Laude from Miami University with a double major in accounting and environmental science. Jared is an iron athlete, mountaineer and has cycled across the U.S.
Tim Sarrantonio oversees Neon One’s ecosystem of software, consultant, and institutional partners that can address any nonprofit need. Neon One provides best in class products with NeonCRM, Rallybound, CiviCore, Arts People, and an ecosystem ensures that over 27 product integrations and over 90 consultants are working to solve problems specific to nonprofits.