Leveraging AI for non-profit organisations and charities: key insights from TPP's webinar

5 minutes
Lenrick Greaves

By Lenrick Greaves

On May 21st, TPP’s Leadership and Governance division hosted a webinar focused on empowering non-profit organisations, charities, Boards, and their CEOs through the adoption of artificial intelligence (AI). This session provided an in-depth exploration of how AI can enhance productivity and effectiveness within the sector. Featuring a panel of four specialist guests, with diverse experiences and expertise, the event shed light on the impact AI can have on charitable work.

The panel included:

  • Rashik Parmar, CEO of the BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT
  • Paul Excell, Chair of AI for Charities
  • Alex Duncan, Chief Technology Officer for the British Heart Foundation
  • Paul Herbert, SVP and Trustee for Royal Osteoporosis Society

Each panellist offered unique perspectives on how AI can transform the non-profit sector, providing valuable insights for organisations looking to integrate AI into their operations.

Embracing AI: a necessity, not an option

AI is clearly a revolutionary development in the world of work and poses both opportunities and potential challenges for businesses and employees. Rashik Parmar spoke to the importance of seeing AI as a necessity, one that shouldn’t replace employees, but enhance their work and capabilities, freeing up staff to focus on interventions and engagements that have greater impact on their beneficiaries and wider stakeholders. This is only possible, though, if it is approached with flexibility, and if AI is effectively leveraged. 

Leveraging AI well would ensure that employees are safe from being replaced by those with enhanced AI skills and are able to utilise their capacity to continue to develop and enhance their practice. It is therefore imperative for organisations, staff, and leadership, to collectively embrace AI for the future proofing of their careers and sustainability of their companies in this new wave of technological advancements.

AI at the governance level

Building on the opportunities of AI, Paul Excell highlighted the opportunities AI presents for Boards and Trustees. AI can drive productivity via aiding fundraising efforts, supporting community services and supporting the communities’ charities serve, and assist staff. Excell outlined three key actions for Boards to consider, to adopt AI efficiently at the beginning of their digital transformation journey:

  • Education: It is imperative for organisations to learn and understand what AI is and isn’t, including AI’s potential capabilities and limitations. Through this, organisations can consider how best AI can serve their mission and goals.
  • Strategic planning: To bolster strategic plans, it is key to identify short, medium, and long-term opportunities where AI can enhance end-to-end processes while mitigating risks.
  • Experimentation: Companies should encourage controlled experimentation with AI, to foster a culture of curiosity and imagination (to AI’s creative possibilities) while managing risks.

Building awareness and excitement

Alex Duncan emphasised the importance of building awareness about AI's impacts among all stakeholders.

Enhancing awareness of AI technologies for staff whilst creating an organisational narrative of excitement that communicates the endless creative opportunities that can be actualised by using AI technologies, should be a priority for leaders to guarantee a smooth reception of AI for staff.

Duncan suggested developing a roadmap for AI integration, which includes upskilling staff through external training and influencing boards to ensure AI's sustainability within the organisation. One particularly useful method suggested was to document use cases (i.e. ways in which the tech is being organically used within the organisation by staff) - helping to create an outline for charities and their workforce to describe how users can interact with AI technologies to help organisations achieve their goals, whist taking staff on a collaborative and exciting journey.


Leadership and workforce dynamics

Paul Herbert focused on the leadership and workforce implications of AI’s adoption. Recognising the potential for polarising reactions—excitement versus fear—Herbert urged leaders to guide their teams with a clear roadmap and milestones. It cannot be overstated that the emergence of digital technologies in the broader economic context of rising inflation and a cost-of-living crisis has the capacity to create job insecurity and cause great concern for how employees engage with new technologies. Thus, approaching the introduction of AI technologies requires leaders to lead from the front. Ensuring staff that the adoption of AI is a collaborative process, as opposed to a process that is singular and void of their participation, is crucial. Leaving staff out of the adoption process ultimately serves an approach that heightens fear and anxiety.

Herbert also notes that AI democratises access to expertise, reducing the need to hire additional “tech people” – placing an emphasis on learning and development, upskilling current staff. This approach capitalises on the existing knowledge and understanding that the existing workforce possesses on the company’s culture, operations, and strategic goals, encouraging a smoother and more strategic integration of AI. Enhancing the operational efficiency and innovation of the company, whilst prioritising and building a versatile workforce who are given the tools to adapt and thrive in an increasingly AI-driven market. However, it is important to note that, although it is key that all staff should be trained on all things AI, it is key that organisations have a point of contact to lead on technological advancements at the company.

Check out Worklife’s article on "How Leadership Should Embrace AI in the Workforce" for further insight on Leadership’s role in a company’s AI journey.


Key takeaways for non-profit organisations

The event provided several other takeaways for non-profits considering AI integration:


Governance and policy implications

The importance of upholding good governance and policies for the integration and sustainability of AI cannot be overstated. Our speakers highlight 3 key points -

  • Clear guidelines: Organisations need to establish clear and ethical guidelines for AI usage – How to use AI, when to use AI, and who can use AI. These policies and guidelines should reflect the importance of data security and privacy (including GDPR compliance), whilst remaining flexible to accommodate technological updates and changes.
  • Transparency: To garner greater trust from all relevant stakeholders, organisations must maintain transparency in how AI at the company is intended to be used, with a key focus on how its usage aligns to the organisation’s overarching strategic goals.

Compliance: Protecting your organisation’s legal, financial and reputation interests is imperative, thus your organisation must adhere to the relevant regulations and standards pertaining to the integration of AI with existing cybersecurity measures.


Enhancing productivity

Another advantage of the integration of AI is the enhanced productivity it provides organisations. Through the automation of routine tasks, staff are granted the capacity to priorities strategic activities, using AI to inform leadership decisions through data-driven insights.


Starting the AI journey

Finally, our panellists emphasised 4 essential factors organisations needed to start their AI journey –

  • Needs assessment: Organisations should identify specific areas in which AI can add value to their vision, mission, and goals, to reap AI’s full benefits.
  • Data management: For AI to be used to its potential, quality data must be inputted. Therefore, organisations must ensure their data is up to date and of good quality for optimal AI usage.
  • Training and development: AI is a good as its users know how to use it. Thus, organisations must prepare to regularly train staff to work with AI technologies periodically to accommodate AI’s constant updates and advancements.
  • Ethical considerations: There are a few areas in which an organisation may want to consider ensuring that the usage of AI is in line with their company’s ethos and principles. There are many ways in which AI can enhance and compliment or even contradict these principles, e.g., in-built bias in AI tools, environmental impact, the use of ethical AI providers, etc. It is important for non-profit organisations to incorporate ethical considerations at the beginning of their AI journeys to enhance the credibility of their charitable pursuits.

At TPP Recruitment, we pride ourselves on being at the forefront of new developments in the sector we support and work with. Our knowledge and experience in the non-profit sector enable us to understand the demands and changes within charities and non-profit organisations.

As such, we are skilled at recruiting digital specialists who are both technically competent and dedicated to leveraging their expertise to advance your strategic goals and mission.

We welcome enquiries on how we can best support your organisation in finding the best talent to sustainably navigate digital advancements at your company.

We take this opportunity to thank our guest panellists for offering their experience and expertise on AI, digital advancements, and the non-profit/charity sector.

To further support non-profits and charities in their AI journey, the following resources are recommended:


  • info@tpp.co.uk
  • 020 7198 6000
  • TPP Recruitment, Northern & Shell Building, 4th Floor, 10 Lower Thames Street, London, EC3R 6AF