What is AI and Big Data, and Why Does It Matter to My Nonprofit? | Sharpe Group
 
Posted April 2nd, 2020

What is AI and Big Data, and Why Does It Matter to My Nonprofit?

Sharpe Group believes AI and Big Data is here to stay and will be used by nonprofits in a variety of ways, particularly for donor insights and development team training.

Organizations in both the for-profit and nonprofit sector are witnessing an ever-changing growth in technology advances over this past decade. Data and bandwidth capacity in the marketplace have brought us new terms like “AI” and “Big Data,” along with job descriptions like “Data Scientist.” These terms and concepts can be daunting. A recent NewVantage Partners Executive survey found that 98% of executives are trying to create data-driven cultures, and, so far, only 32% are feeling confident about their efforts.

Let’s begin with some basics:

AI, generally meaning “artificial intelligence,” is the use of machine-learning software that performs several correlation, pattern and analytical tasks that previously were performed “manually” by humans.

Big Data generally defines itself: It is data, and it is BIG.

These two terms work together in this way: Big Data is the input that needs to be cleaned, organized, structured and integrated to become useful for decision making. It can be “structured” data (think “numbers”) or “unstructured” data (using actual words and phrases like an email or text). AI is the output or the “intelligence” that results from processing the data. In a nutshell, Big Data gives us facts, whereas AI gives us insights to these facts to make better judgements and, therefore, best decisions.

Google, Microsoft, Amazon and other players with huge consumer databases are developing this space. Most charities simply don’t have the time or resources to devote to AI and make it work for their organizations, donor databases and mission delivery.

We believe AI and Big Data is here to stay and will be used by nonprofits in a variety of ways. Sharpe Group’s historic focus on our clients’ donors, the development team and organizational efficiency and empowerment to grow and achieve their respective missions aligns perfectly with Big Data and AI.

What’s the key to successful AI in analytics? Augmented Intelligence—an approach that brings together the best of machine intelligence and human intuition to accelerate time-to-insight, surface new and unexpected discoveries and drive data literacy for users in any role and at any skill level. This is the very approach we are using with donor data sets in consulting with our clients.

Sharpe Group Donor Insights: “Making donor data empowering”

Starting with a client’s donor database, we enhance the data through a proprietary system to append essential information to the records (address, email, phone, wealth, etc.). The appended donor data is processed by our AI programs to produce profiles of bequest donors, major gift donors and current donors that will focus the client’s decisions to best manage their planned giving opportunities and portfolios.

Automated hiring platform: “Hiring Made Easy”

The adage that “a nonprofit is only as good as its mission and its people” remains true today. Hiring the best and most qualified staff is an essential goal. Having an automation tool that takes most of the manual steps out of the traditional hiring process will provide more time to devote to the candidate-hiring decision. The Sharpe “Hiring Made Easy” platform automates the hiring process from beginning to end. It includes job postings, applications, resumes and reviews and adds a layer of application questions that help filter applicants to the specific job requirements.

Customized skill testing depending on the job needs is also available to give our clients, providing clear insights on a prospect’s skills and personality to align with job requirements. Best of all, the platform is both cost effective and efficient in its job posting automation, applicant review and assessment and hiring decision assistance.

For more than 50 years, Sharpe Group has focused on three main aspects when providing expertise to our clients:

  1. Understanding the donor lifecycle.
  2. Providing organizational empowerment.
  3. Measuring the development team’s fundraising efforts and providing projections for future success.

We are taking the same approach in integrating AI and Big Data, where it can help the nonprofit most and in the most cost-effective manner. We’d be delighted to discuss these expanded Sharpe Group tools with you. Email us at info@SHARPEnet.com or call 901.680.5300 for requests or questions. ■

The publisher of Give & Take is not engaged in rendering legal or tax advisory service. For advice and assistance in specific cases, the services of your own counsel should be obtained. Articles in Give & Take may generally be reprinted for distribution to board members and staff of nonprofit institutions and other non-donor groups. Proper credit must be given. Call for details.

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