The best Artificial Intelligence resources for charities

We’ve collated a list of the best resources, grants and educational sources for charities to start getting to grips with the benefits of artificial intelligence (AI).

Chloe Green | 2nd Jul 19
Image of robot teaching someone on a blackboard

While it’s still early days for most in the charity sector, artificial intelligence is now far from being just a buzzword. Charities are using technology such as machine learning, chatbots and algorithmic decision making to do everything from serving information and telling stories online, to taking voice-based donations, driving innovative research and serving beneficiaries. The possibilities are incredibly wide-ranging. Experts are saying that artificial intelligence will shape society more than any other technology in the next few decades, so why would civil society be any exception?

We’ve put together a list of some of the top artificial intelligence tools, training, grants and education resources for charities and non-profit organisations: whether you’re completely new to the concepts behind artificial intelligence and machine learning, or already well versed and ready to take your ideas to the next level.

Think we’ve missed anything that should be included? Let us know on Twitter @CharityDigiNews.


See also: How AI is helping make the world greener


Artificial Intelligence: The future of the charity sector

Not sure what all the hype is about? We recommend reading this article first to get an overview on AI in the charity sector, some of the use cases already underway, and a broad introduction to the ethical implications and barriers to overcome.


Charities Aid Foundation, Giving Thought: Artificial Intelligence

The Charities Aid Foundation’s excellent in-house think tank regularly features insight and comment on the latest challenges for the sector surrounding artificial intelligence, with clear and engaging explanations of many of the issues surrounding it.


Charities Aid Foundation: Machine-made goods

Another fascinating read from the Charities Aid Foundation – this paper explains in jargon-free language some of the potential dangers ethical considerations and challenges for charities surrounding AI, recommends approaches and sparks debate about both the positive and negative sides of this technology.


DataKind UK

DataKind UK brings together teams of pro bono data scientists to work on advanced data science and AI projects with social change organisations- with many of their services provided for free. They run office hours for organisations in need of data support (from data strategy to reviewing coding), undertake short and long term data science projects, support data scientists that work in the charity sector, and provide practical support to implement ethical data practice.


The Alan Turing Institute

Created as the national institute for data science and artificial intelligence in 2015, the Alan Turing Institute takes its name from the mathematician and computer scientists who pioneered AI. The Institute provides expertise and research into mathematics and algorithms needed to solve real world problems, and works with government, charities, companies and universities.

It has funded and collaborated with charities including the British Heart Foundation, who has developed an artificial intelligence device that use data from two million patients to help predict heart disease risk.


Microsoft: AI for Good

As a leading developer of AI products and services, Microsoft is supporting organisations using innovative technologies to solve the world’s biggest challenges, empowering them to create a more sustainable planet, better support people with disabilities and solve humanitarian problems using AI.

Charities and social enterprises are invited to apply for regular grants towards their ideas and join various collaboration programmes such as the AI for Good Cohort. We recommend checking out many of the inspiring success stories so far.


Google AI Impact Challenge

As the company behind DeepMind, earlier this year Google gave away $25 million towards humanitarian projects that use Google’s machine learning technology. The A.I. Impact Challenge is based on Google’s belief that artificial intelligence can provide new solutions to old problems and improve people’s lives. The 20 selected organisations have recieved funding and support from Google’s AI experts, teaming up with UK organisation DataKind to jumpstart their AI work. While this year’s programme is over, keep your eyes peeled for 2020.


Google AI for social good guide

Google’s free toolkit is a great introduction on getting started in the world of AI for social good, including how to start building a basic understanding of AI and machine, learn about machine learning terminology, and frame the problems you want to solve, with interactive demos to see the things you can do with machine learning to inspire you.


AWS: Machine learning for business decision makers

Alongside Microsoft and Google, AWS is a leading name in ‘AI as a service’ tools that organisations can plug in and get started on without any development or machine learning expertise. While aimed at businesses, many of the resources in AWS’s crash course can be applied to organisations of all kinds, allowing leaders to explore how AI services and tools might fit into their larger digital transformation strategy. There’s also a showcase of many of AWS’s AI apps and how they work.


Addition: Alexa for charity fundraising

Want to know how your charity can explore using Amazon Alexa to recieve donations and carry out services? This specialist branch of digital agency WPN Chameleon could help you do just that – they recently launched an Amazon Echo donation tool with NSPCC.


IBM Watson

IBM Watson is a supercomputer that uses natural language processing technology to answer complex questions, with applications across a huge range of industry types from finance to education. Some of its primary uses are in healthcare, using data-driven insights to inform diagnosis and decision making.

Non-profit organisations can get hold of a no-charge trial of IBM Watson’s suite of data analytics tool to design more effective programs, track donors, attract volunteers, and more.


Nesta: AI

Nesta is an organisation dedicated to researching and influencing policy on AI and digital technology for ‘public benefit’ such as in education and the creative arts. Its work looks at various areas of AI for social good- Nesta’s Healthlab for example is heavily involved in digital tools for healthcare, while the organisation’s government innovation work has both researched and experimented with the potential of AI in the public sector. Look out for upcoming talks and events.


Salesforce: Non-profits and AI

The CRM and data platform is partnering with non-profit organisations to make use of its AI capabilities, Salesforce Einstein – it’s worth checking out some of the podcasts, blogs and other content for charities it launched as part of its AI for Good Week in parternship with AI thought leaders. We recently also looked at some non-profit trends and use cases from Salesforce.