VIDEO: How AI is helping small charities drive more impact

Food bank The Welcome Centre and charity data partner DataKind talk about how they are transforming small charity service delivery with AI, in this latest video.

Chloe Green | 3rd Dec 19

It’s a common misconception that Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning are out of reach for most small charities or those running on shoestring budgets.

But organisations like pro bono data scientists DataKindUK are opening up opportunities to cost-effectively take advantage of AI tools and services – this is where we’re really starting to see the difference this technology can make to grass-roots causes.

In the video below, we find out how they’ve been helping The Welcome Centre, an independent food bank in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, to illuminate whole new paths to service delivery for people in crisis.

Thanks to the collaboration, The Welcome Centre has been able to design an early intervention programme that recognises the signs of dependency and lets them step in with the most appropriate advice, guidance and support before things spiral.

In the video, Manager Ellie Coteau and DataKind UK experts explain how innovative analytics and machine learning has helped them get a clear picture on their user’s needs and given them the confidence to go forward on their own.

“It’s easy to be scared of data and scared of GDPR,” says Coteau. “But actually if you embrace it, it can be a really positive thing.”

The model for measuring food bank dependency has the potential to be replicated by other food banks as well as in settings where a similar problem occurs.


Recognising opportunities

Small charities undoubtedly face a tough economic and political climate with no end of obstacles. But with the advent of AI rapidly making its way into the mainstream, they are also facing an unprecedented opportunity.

‘Democratisation’ is the idea that tech and resources once considered just for an elite few are filtering down to become affordable and accessible for everyone, and artificial intelligence is now in this phase.

Access to data science used to be the reserve of tech-savvy startups and huge enterprises, but the almost unlimited computing resource of the cloud, AI-as-a-service software, and a growing ecosystem of charity data support organisations and grants all make now the perfect storm for a charity data renaissance.

As DataKind UK states: “A revolution like this is about more than harnessing data – it’s about bringing together amazing people.”

“We bring together top data scientists with leading social change organisations to collaborate on cutting-edge analytics and advanced algorithms to maximise social impact. Our programs… are designed to meet organisations where they are.”

Watch the video below.