Unlocking the Power of AI: A Journey into Generative AI for Nonprofits

Artificial intelligence (AI) is transforming how organizations operate and engage their stakeholders. While AI often conjures images of complex algorithms and sci-fi robots, a new category called “generative AI” is making these technologies accessible for non-technical users.

In this blog post, we’ll explore my journey guiding nonprofit professionals to discover the possibilities of generative AI tools like ChatGPT, DALL-E, and Canva Magic.

Demystifying AI: What is Generative AI?

AI refers to computer systems that can analyze data, make decisions, and automate tasks. Generative AI takes this a step further by creating brand new content like text, images, video, and more.

Unlike AI systems designed for specific narrow tasks, generative AI models can adapt to a wide range of prompts and directions. With the right guidance, anyone can harness their creative power.

During an intensive one-day course at New York University, I introduced participants to essential concepts and real-world applications to make AI less intimidating.

Surprisingly, AI already plays a silent role in our daily lives. Features like virtual assistants, autocomplete, and content recommendations rely on basic AI. My goal was to build on this familiarity.

The (Human) Power Behind the AI

While AI tools can augment our capabilities, human guidance is indispensable. The quality of output depends heavily on providing clear, detailed prompts and directions.

We explored best practices for prompting ChatGPT effectively, including giving concrete examples and specifying the exact format required. This kind of guidance allows AI to produce surprisingly nuanced, high-quality content.

However, AI has limitations. It can hallucinate false information or perpetuate harmful biases. Humans must carefully review, edit where necessary, and approve anything generated by AI.

Creativity and Ethics: Core Considerations

To tap into the creative potential of AI while avoiding pitfalls, I introduced two frameworks.

  • First, the POWER storytelling framework helps craft compelling narratives by outlining the Problem, Outline of solutions, Worth or impact, and Eliciting a response or call-to-action.
  • Second is an ethics checklist covering consent, transparency, bias evaluation, and data privacy. This guidance helps nonprofits align AI applications with their values.

While AI can help scale efforts, the storytelling and relationships must remain authentically human.

The Magic of Generative Design

Beyond writing, we explored the power of Canva Magic to instantly generate visual assets. After describing a desired image or video, Canva’s AI creates original designs, scenes, and graphics.

Participants were stunned at the ease of creating professional social media posts, animated videos, and even entire presentations with a few clicks.

By handling repetitive design tasks, Canva’s AI lets nonprofits focus more energy on strategy and personalization. It opens new possibilities for resource-constrained organizations to elevate their storytelling.

Reflections on Our Shared Journey

While initially skeptical, participants gained first-hand experience with AI’s vast potential for social impact. From streamlining operations to unlocking creativity, generative AI places new capabilities into nonprofit professionals’ hands.

However, realizing this potential takes an investment in learning. I aim to continue guiding nonprofits to adopt these emerging tools through accessible education, mindful oversight, and participatory discussion.

What seemed like magic at first reveals itself as a collaborative human-AI process for augmenting our creativity. Our shared journey to responsibly embrace this new frontier has only just begun.

Learn more about my NYU course offerings and my Liz Ngonzi Transforms services to enable you to leverage the power of generative AI to amplify your impact.