Letter from the Director
The use of technology in philanthropy is rising. A trending idea in higher education is the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to help with teaching, learning, and other institutional operations. Ethically utilized AI can be beneficial in many areas of higher education. Colleges and universities receive and store heaps of data in student information systems and other customer relationship management systems. The data stored in these systems is useful only when it is transformed into knowledge that can provide direction and insight that allows leaders to make meaningful and strategic decisions at their institutions.
According to a special report from Educause on Artificial Intelligence, AI “refers to the leveraging of multiple technologies that together create a device or construct that accomplishes certain tasks formerly requiring human input.” There are several references to the Educause QuickPoll results included in this report, which should help higher education leaders understand more about the challenges and benefits of AI. In higher education, “the principles of AI underlie a range of innovative systems, including analytics, robot writers, virtual experiences, and intelligent tutoring systems.” However, based on the QuickPoll results, AI is not in use at many educational institutions, as there is not enough enthusiasm for adapting AI for tasks such as “planning curricula, making or contributing to financial aid decisions, development and fundraising, and making or contributing to admissions decisions.” AI is mainly being used in instructional settings to monitor students and their work. Today, few nonprofits use artificial intelligence tools in development and fundraising. Though most nonprofits are not yet using AI for fundraising, there is immense potential for it to provide personalized engagement and communications, match donors to different causes, and identify donors for fundraisers. There are still some challenges and concerns to address, such as data privacy and the transparency of algorithms used by corporate entities.
I hope higher education institutions will embrace digital transformation and make complete use of emerging technologies to advance their mission successfully. Nonprofits can reap the best results by combining the strengths of AI and human talents.
As always, please feel free to reach out to us with questions, comments or any assistance with fundraising research!
Sapna and USM Advancement Research Team
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