The Pros and Cons of AI: An Introduction for Nonprofits

Meredith Criner
Issue Area:
Big Tech
Religious Identity
Risk Management
Starting a Nonprofit

Artificial Intelligence (“AI”) has been a hot topic in the news recently—and for good reason. Many individuals and organizations are quickly adopting new AI technology due to the benefits the technology provides. But others worry about the potential dangers, ranging in severity from job loss due to mechanization to human extinction. In response to these dangers, governments and organizations are creating laws and rules to build a regulatory framework around AI technology. What exactly is AI? What does your nonprofit need to know?

February 5, 2024


Artificial Intelligence (“AI”) has been a hot topic in the news recently—and for good reason.  With the advent of ChatGPT, an AI powered chat program, and other affordable and widely accessible AI programs, more individuals and organizations are learning about the power of AI and how it can assist them.  Many individuals and organizations, however, have already been using AI without even realizing it.

What exactly is AI? AI refers to technology that simulates intelligence within a computer to perform tasks such as speech recognition and decision-making.  This includes voice assistants like Apple’s “Siri.” “Machine learning,” a subset of AI, refers to the ability of computers to analyze datasets, identify patterns, make decisions, and improve themselves.  A subset of machine learning, “deep learning,” imitates the neural networks of the human brain in a computer. This is the relatively new development in AI that has captivated the news cycle and been implemented in technologies such as ChatGPT.

Many individuals and organizations are quickly adopting new AI technology due to the benefits the technology provides. But others worry about the potential dangers, ranging in severity from job loss due to mechanization to human extinction.1  In response to these dangers, governments and organizations are creating laws and rules to build a regulatory framework around AI technology.2

Experience cautions against adopting novel technologies without carefully considering their potential implications. First among concerns for faith-based non-profits should be that the internal rules and government regulation geared at addressing potential dangers associated with AI ignore a central problem—as humans increasingly attempt to create their own “truth,” many have become convinced that man created God. AI is an example of that in some ways. The development of superintelligence and the quest for happiness and freedom from the pangs of death is a parody of the Gospel. When we build a tower to ourselves and for ourselves, believing that we are our own masters, that tower will inevitably fall. The use of AI should come with extreme caution about the major implications this technology may have concerning the truth about life, intelligence, and the dignity of the human person.

Putting aside the fundamental questions about the role AI should play in our lives, AI is and will continue to be an important tool for many organizations moving forward. With this, it is important to consider the pros and cons of using AI within your organization.

Pros and Cons of AI for Nonprofits


1. Improved efficiency, communication, and outreach

AI can automate time-consuming work.  For example, AI quickly performs administrative and ministerial tasks with greater efficiency than a human.  

AI also diminishes human error.  AI can be programmed to ensure proper spelling and grammar in form emails, to create accurate finance reports and other mathematical solutions, and to compile statistical datasets and other information that may be helpful for nonprofits to collect on members, donors, and potential members and donors.

AI also helps with writing, including drafting donor engagement emails, marketing content, and other communications.  AI programs like ChatGPT are already used by businesses in a variety of ways, such as translating texts, writing marketing materials, and increasing platform engagement.3

Moreover, AI is available 24/7.  AI can work on multiple tasks at a time and perform without taking breaks.    

2. Enhanced decision making

AI analyzes data, such as donor information, fundraising metrics, and other information quicker and more efficiently than humans by working for longer and automating certain processes.  By analyzing huge datasets, AI limits choices and presents options for decision-making. This helps organizations optimize risk management, pricing, communication, and more.

In sum, AI creates a clearer, faster, data-driven decision-making process that would benefit any nonprofit.

3. Increased donor engagement

With less time spent on marketing and organization, nonprofits can focus on one of their most important tasks—donor relations.  AI also helps analyze the best times for sending emails and following up with donors about their engagement with the organization.


1. Bias and fairness

AI can be biased.  AI works by collecting data and analyzing its dataset.  If the data collected is biased or limited, the result will be biased or limited based on the data analyzed.  For example, a few years ago Amazon had to stop using an AI recruitment tool after Amazon learned the tool showed bias against women. The tool was trained to vet applicants by observing patterns in a particular dataset––resumes submitted to Amazon over the past several years. Most of those resumes were from men, given the male dominance at the time in the STEM field. Therefore, the tool thought male applicants were preferred. As a result, the tool penalized women’s resumes and gave them a lower rating. 4

Nonprofits should be wary of bias and fairness when adopting AI technology.  For example, ChatGPT and other chatbots have guidelines that mandate political correctness.5  The programs have built in flags that stop certain speech or requests deemed by the companies who created or run the program as “inappropriate.” These political correctness algorithms can unfairly prevent faith-based nonprofits from using AI effectively.6  

While bias is a real concern for AI technology, in some ways AI also limits certain biases.  AI gives a somewhat objective presentation of issues by taking in datasets and identifying patterns.  Computer algorithms and machine learning, if used properly, can limit potential human biases in interpreting data.

2. Data privacy

AI uses datasets; therefore, AI requires data.  A major concern for adopting AI technology concerns what data is collected, where the data is collected from, how much data is used, for what amount of time the data is used, and how the data is protected.  

Many organizations are adopting their own internal ethical guidelines for self-governance when using AI.7  This includes limiting the amount and type of data used, strengthening privacy protections, and addressing fairness, transparency, and accountability issues.  These ethical guidelines consider how much data from individuals the nonprofit is willing to collect to target potential members, as well as how data from the nonprofit is used.  

3. Inability to replicate human creativity and emotion

AI is not well suited for innovation or creativity because AI bases its decisions on what has happened in the past.  Accordingly, AI cannot think outside of the box or incorporate other ideas or differing perspectives.  AI operates from the algorithms and datasets it is trained on.  Moreover, while AI is available 24/7 to process data and help recognize patterns to make decisions, it cannot factor emotion into decisions.  

Despite the important role of new technology systems in streamlining many administrative tasks, the innate human capacity for innovation and creativity cannot be replicated by AI technology.  Some may argue generative AI can replicate and even outperform human creativity and emotion in art and other media. Granted, AI-generated art is often beautiful in its own way. But it lacks the transcription of the soul—the meaning—innate in human art. Yes, even Duchamp’s “Fountain” has this innate quality.8 As discussed earlier, the simple fact that AI work is that of a machine, not man, will forever separate AI work from that of a human.

Similarly, the requirements of nonprofits, such as interacting with donors and those the nonprofit serves, can seldom be accomplished by AI.  AI lacks the human connection and sincerity that a handwritten letter, personal phone call, or other human touch provides.


When adopting AI technology, it is important to consider strengthening organizational data privacy and to understand the risks posed by AI.  It is particularly important to consider the ethical implications of the amount and type of data used. For assistance in addressing the pros and cons of AI for your organization, consider the questions below to ensure that your organization is getting the most out of this beneficial technology without ignoring the practical and ethical issues:

General questions and ethical considerations:

  • How does our organization use AI?  
  • How is our organization considering using AI in the future?
  • How should our organization prepare to introduce AI?
  • How can our organization ensure that the dataset used to train AI models is representative and does not include harmful biases?
  • How can our organization ensure transparency in how AI makes decisions and how our organization uses AI?  

Cybersecurity review:

  • Does our organization have a formal cybersecurity program in place?
  • Who is responsible for technology and cybersecurity in our organization?
  • How is our organization’s data currently safeguarded?
  • How is member, donor, and other information and data protected in our organization?
  • What are the potential risks concerning data privacy violations?
  • Are there areas of risk where we should reconsider the use of AI or simply areas where human engagement is better?  

Employee usage and policies:

  • How do we encourage employees to use AI for productivity purposes and not simply to take shortcuts?
  • Do we need to put policies in place regarding AI use?

If you are interested in learning more about the ethical implications of AI, you may find the organization “AI and Faith” helpful.  AI and Faith is a pluralist organization that creates content bringing the values of the world’s major religions to the debates around the ethical development of AI technologies.9  You may also be interested in the Journal of Moral Theology’s Spring 2022 Special Issue on AI.10






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7 See, e.g.,




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