How A.I. can help charities confront the Cost-of-Living crisis

05 January 2024

The benefits of using emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), are vast. Here are some of the ways that AI can help charities save costs and improve efficiencies.

Artificial intelligence (A.I.) is an increasingly hot topic, with more charities interested in how this emerging technology can help them improve efficiencies and reduce costs. In fact, in the Charity Digital Skills Report 2023, 66% of charities are interested in how to leverage A.I., compared to only 15% in last year’s report.  

In the same report, 27% of charities polled said that they are currently using A.I. in their day-to-day operations, whilst a further 26% said that they were planning to use it.   

With the cost-of-living crisis affecting the operating costs of charities big and small, how can A.I. help to alleviate the pressure? 

What is AI? 

A.I. essentially imitates human intelligence using machines or software. There are different branches of A.I., which use different technologies and methods. Some examples of A.I. are machine learning, natural language processing (often used in chatbots), and robotics. 


What are the core benefits of AI? 

A.I. can offer huge benefits around productivity, automation, and streamlining processes. This is because A.I. has the ability to process huge amounts of data, quickly and accurately.  

In finance teams, manual tasks such as consolidations, currency conversions, billing, and supplier payment approvals are very time-consuming. However, these can all be automated using A.I.. Having these manual tasks automated saves time, reduces costs, and frees employees up to work on more complex and strategic tasks.  

According to a Third Sector article in February 2022, one charity who automated its financial operations “reported an 80% increase in efficiency and saved over £400,000 a year in operating costs”. 

With the cost-of-living crisis affecting charities, these kinds of cost savings could ensure that charities keep their doors open and the lights on.  

Here’s how A.I. can help charities improve efficiencies and save costs.

Save time on grant applications 

 Many charities apply for grant funding to help them finance services, deliver projects, or cover core costs. Writing grant applications can be time consuming and challenging as not only are there word limits, but funders will all have different formats and requirements. Having to distil an entire service into 200 words, for example, can be difficult even for the most skilled writers.  

Using A.I. tools can help speed up the process, allowing staff to potentially write more applications within the funding deadlines, and thereby raising more money to deliver their mission.  

For example, ChatGPT can be used to upload previous grant applications and then given prompts to rewrite it in the format required by the funder. The end result, however, will still need to be edited and proofread, ensuring that it is accurate and in line with your charity’s tone of voice. 

Help generate creative ideas 

Many charities run annual events, which often require a slight refresh or new ideas to keep participants engaged. Even annual campaigns, such as a Christmas appeal will require a new idea or approach. Sometimes charities will turn to agencies to help them come up with a new or fresh concept. But what if you could generate ideas in-house? 

Remember that you will need to provide the A.I. tool with context, and any insights that you have from previous events, to generate the most relevant results. A clearly defined problem and well-articulated goal, with added data and context, will produce the best results when you prompt the A.I. tool to come up with creative ideas.   

Automate manual processes 

Robotic Process Automation (R.P.A.) can help charities to automate manual, repetitive processes that are often time-consuming and mundane.

Working with Arvato’s RPA solutionWales Air Ambulance Charity has automated many of the manual tasks associated with their lottery product and reduced time spent manually adding new members to the draw by 92%. This huge reduction in manual administrative tasks then allows staff the time to focus on other tasks, such as an acquisition strategy to recruit more players, and therefore raise more money.  

R.P.A. has many benefits, including reducing human error and the ability to run 24/7. There are of course still some things that need a human touch – such as calling up a supporter to find out why they’ve cancelled their direct debit. Whilst AI can do many things, it cannot replace human interaction. 

Increase job satisfaction  

One added benefit of using A.I. to automate time-intensive manual tasks is employee satisfaction. By taking away the admin-heavy tasks, staff can spend the time saved on doing the parts of their job that they actually enjoy, as well as have time to think creatively and strategically. 


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