AI Might Be Coming for Your Nonprofit Job
There's a lot of talk about artificial intelligence, technology, machine learning and artificial general intelligence. Hopefully, you're paying some attention. If you don't, then you might just be the person whose job gets taken over by AI. So, should you be worried? I don't think so. Should you be concerned and proactive — a definite yes.
The reality is that nothing ever happens the way the evangelists or doomsayers predict — at least it hasn’t in the past. In other words, things usually shake out somewhere in the middle. But, the world’s never experienced the level of technological progress that’s happening now.
We have people, including Elon Musk, who predict that humans may have to move over as AI co-exists with — or even overcomes — humans as the dominant species on our planet, and we move to a place where AI is in charge.
Is It Time to Give Up My Job?
The short answer to the question of whether you’ll have a nonprofit job in several years is qualified. Yes, you will have a job — at least for the short term. However, you must also prepare. Musk isn’t the only one telling people to get ready for a massive job shift.
Futurists, experts in technology, and economists are predicting a massive societal shift. Think of this: Surgeons are no longer doing some surgeries unassisted and even directed by technology, and we're moving to a world where AI diagnoses and doctors provide explanations and human interaction regarding health. Legal research and analysis now is done by AI instead of lawyers.
So, if those complex professions have shifted to using AI and we're moving to a place where AI will do a lot of the heavy lifting, what does it mean for the nonprofit sector? It means that you need to prepare to shift from the same job you have for a long time to human-centered work.
The Shift of Work to Human-Centered Roles
The take-over of jobs by technology is not something that we'll avoid. That train has left the station. The amounts of digital data accumulated in the information age have given artificial intelligence enormous data sets. As a result, it's trained and learned, and it continues to do it at an unprecedented rate. In short, the genie’s out of the bottle.
However, you can prepare for the changes. The most significant idea that you could take from this article is that technology thought leaders, including Musk, and others are saying that the future jobs are those relating to human interaction. In other words, the primary activity of a doctor will be their interaction with patients (not diagnostics or even surgery). Lawyers will shift from legal analysis to something akin to legal client support as AI informs them of their chances for success with specific outcomes.
As it relates to nonprofits, the chances are those roles in a donor-facing, or client-facing position will remain and become even more focused on person-to-person communication and support. However, the more operational or non-human facing functions will likely start transitioning to technology.
For instance, if you happen to be on the finance team (sorry, not picking on you), the chances are that you may have to look for other opportunities for work. Financial data is something that technology can crunch. Moreover, it could predict expenses into the future better than any human because of its ability to deeply analyze all historical data and information.
So, Where Does That Leave the Nonprofit Sector?
Well, the shift has already started. If you haven't noticed, there's excellent tech in the nonprofit space for program officers, human resources and operations teams, and fundraisers. Many workers have become more like data strategists as their roles shift with technology, and the next generation is evaluating their options. That will only accelerate.
You’ll find that the nonprofits that are growing and scaling to do bolder and better things are those that have a human and tech partnership. In other words, they’re leaning into the tools that can aggregate and synthesize information, so the output provides them with precise and predictive information for decision-making.
Still, every nonprofit worker has to make a personal assessment of their role and function and investigate if, when or how technology could aid in what they do — or even supplant what they do. While that may seem scary, it doesn't have to be the case. Again, human-centered and people-facing roles will evolve, grow and thrive. So, be proactive, and instead of running from the wave, ride it. You'll be all the better for doing it.
Wayne Elsey is the founder and CEO of Elsey Enterprises. Among his various independent brands, he is also the founder and CEO of Funds2Orgs, a social enterprise that helps nonprofits, schools, churches, civic groups, individuals and others raise funds, while helping to support micro-enterprise (small business) opportunities in developing nations and the environment.
You can learn more about Wayne and obtain free resources, including his books on his blog, Not Your Father’s Charity.