Report: Associations Lag in AI Adoption

The Info-Tech Research Group’s study finds that many organizations have opportunities to use generative AI to bolster attendance and member engagement.

A new report found that associations have lagged behind the corporate sector in adopting generative AI, and offered some recommendations for catching up.

Last month, Info-Tech Research Group released its Generative AI Use Case Library for the Nonprofit & Professional Associations Industry, which noted that the nonprofit sector has been hesitant to use AI tools; it cites a study that says only 16 percent of nonprofit professionals were using the technology in 2022, compared industries like biotech, automotive, and professional services, where at least half had adopted it.

“Nonprofits are treading carefully, similar to their approach on digital transformation,” said Info-Tech managing partner, executive services Neil de Ridder, adding that many leaders are concerned about “funding dips, tighter budgets, program disruptions, the level of technology leadership, and concerns around organization and data privacy.”

Moreover, the report noted that many organizations have struggled to identify where to start. To that end, the report spotlights three main use cases: “authentic constituent chatbots” that can efficiently and personably respond to stakeholder questions; “fundraising/membership intelligence”; and “grant writing transformation.” 

Nonprofits are treading carefully, similar to their approach on digital transformation.

Info-Tech managing partner, executive services Neil de Ridder

For associations, de Ridder said, chatbots offer opportunities to both provide information to members and customers, and to gather information about them. “Real-time analysis of feedback received should help nonprofits to change and shift services so as to meet new and emerging needs,” he said. Similarly, AI can offer “real-time analysis of member data to identify trends, preferences, and potential areas for new services or improvement,” and personalize meeting experiences, “[advising] on sessions and identify[ing] the best networking opportunities.”

But the report stressed that each organization should develop a process for creating their own use cases, based on an assessment of their organization’s readiness, needs, and technological capabilities. “Successful pilots rely on the right use cases,” the report said. “The purpose of use case prioritization is to ensure that your organization can invest time and resources into a new initiative with the highest likelihood of providing value.”

De Ridder said this assessment requires “an all-hands-on-deck approach. The organization needs to determine its position on Gen AI adoption. The stakeholders should be executive leadership and all the major departments, such as program development and delivery, marketing, member services, fundraising, IT, and even the board of directors. The diversity within these organizations is huge, and each perspective is important.” Once that input is gathered, he said, “we suggest identifying and prioritizing initiatives that have the most value with minimal complexity.”

The report also notes that any assessment and pilot program be tied to a plan around AI governance, monitoring issues of data privacy and communicating with users about how the association is using generative AI. “Organizations should communicate with members on how their data is being used and guarantee their data is safeguarded,” de Ridder said. “And when using chatbots to engage members, let them know the AI’s role and offer alternatives for those preferring a more human interaction. Building and maintaining this trust is vital.”

The post Report: Associations Lag in AI Adoption appeared first on Associations Now.