3 Steps to Start Your Artificial Intelligence Journey
There has been a lot of noise around artificial intelligence, and it can sound intimidating, especially for nonprofits. What is it? What do I need it for? And like most questions, if you don’t know the answers, you may assume it’s not for you.
In actuality, artificial intelligence (AI) has been around for some time now and, at the core, is about up-leveling insights from your data. If you’re just starting your technology journey or have completely undergone a digital transformation, there are steps you can take to ensure your organization is prepared for the wave of AI set to come, as technology continues to develop at a rapid pace.
How does AI relate to your organization, and how can you prepare or convince your organization that AI could add value to your day-to-day operations, predict success and more? Let’s dive into some things you can do to get started on your journey to AI.
Step 1: Prepare for Change Management
Change management will be an important step in ensuring that leaders in your organization are on board to start thinking about machine learning and AI. Some best practices around change management include:
- Get a strategy.
- Engage an executive sponsor.
- Collect input from end users, such as your employees.
- Define scope and impact.
- Configure and test.
- Communicate and train.
- Follow up and support.
Step 2: Frame the Problem You Want to Solve
Collecting data is core to upleveling insights, but so is understanding what problems you want the data to solve through AI. Some common use cases we see are in the fundraising, marketing and program teams:
- Understanding a donor's propensity to give or which one-time donors will become recurring donors.
- Seeing at what stage program beneficiaries are likely to drop out.
Step 3: Start With Your Data
At the foundation of AI is data. Nonprofits of all sizes log and track various data points about donors, beneficiaries and more. Now is the time to start tracking and collecting data and ensuring that the data going into your system is clean and de-duped.
When looking at the stages CRM data follows for use in AI, these stages frame the maturity of your organization’s data readiness. Even if you’re at Stage 1 and want to get to Stage 5, there are tools you can take advantage of to do so.
- Stage 0: Anecdotal: HIPPO (the Highest Paid Person’s Opinion)
- Stage 1: CRM Data Foundation (360-degree view)
- Stage 2: Measurement & Analytics (data-driven decisions)
- Stage 3: Insight (business intelligence)
- Stage 4: Process Automation (efficiency and automation)
- Stage 5: Data Science (predictive models, interventions, etc.)
- Stage 6: Machine Learning (next-best action recommendations)
- Stage 7: AI approaching human intelligence (currently science fiction)
Bonus Step: Get Excited for the Future!
At Salesforce.org, we envision a human future for AI. Our goal is to put these powerful tools in the hands of changemakers who will use it to transform for good. AI is going to make you more productive and valuable than ever. You’ll be able to analyze information instantly and in-depth, anticipate customer needs, and automate repetitive manual tasks and be more productive as a nonprofit member.
In fact, according to a 2018 study of nonprofits by Salesforce Research, the use of AI is expected to grow 361 percent over the next two years, outpacing the growth even in constituent-facing mobile apps (167 percent growth projected in the next two years).
So Let's Continue the Discussion
With the use of AI on the rise, these discussions on AI for nonprofits are more important than ever. Salesforce.org is hosting AI for Good Week from March 18 to 22 to continue the conversation on the future of AI for nonprofits, its ethical use and how social good organizations can get started.
Register for the first virtual event to kick off the week of learning on March 18: Social good in an AI-powered world.
Andréa Schiller is a senior product marketing manager on the Salesforce.org team focused on nonprofit fundraising and artificial intelligence. She is passionate about using technology for social good and excited to be furthering the Salesforce.org mission. Andrea is president of Latinoforce, the employee resource group focused on the latino community, and she also co-founded TeachTech Inc, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that focuses on bridging the gap between older and younger generations when it comes to technology literacy. She is based in San Francisco.