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Two thirds of charities using AI tools for grant fundraising are small charities, report finds

A calculator rests against a computer keyboard. By Edar on Pixabay

More than half of small charities are now using AI – and they also account for two thirds of charities using it for grant fundraising, according to a snapshot of results from this year’s Charity Digital Skills report.

The findings were revealed during this week’s Small Charity Week, by Microsoft and NCVO at an event debating the challenges and opportunities of AI. The organisations are partnering to support small charities with tools and guidance to help them leverage AI.

They reveal more than half of small charities say they are using AI and agree that AI is relevant to them, however, they recognise there are many challenges to success.


An introduction to AI for charity professionals by Ross Angus

More than a third (35%) say they need training to upskill with AI and 60% say they have poor skills and capacity to engage with emerging tech trends, or are not currently doing this.  66% of charities using AI tools for grant fundraising are small charities, and 56% strongly agree or agree that AI developments are relevant to them.

The biggest barrier the report reveals small charities are facing to moving forwards with AI is a lack of technical skills and expertise, cited by almost half (48%) of those taking part in the survey. This is compounded by a lack of training to upskill, identified as the second biggest barrier by a third of small charities (34%). 30% of small charities also said they wanted their board to learn about emerging tech and AI tools.

Hugh Milward, External Affairs VP at Microsoft, said:

“Generative AI has the potential to transform the impact charities can have in our communities, especially at a time when they are under pressure to deliver far more, with far less.”

Sarah Elliott, CEO at NCVO, commented: 

“It’s great to see so many small charities already engaging with AI, but we need to help more organisations see and realise its game-changing potential, especially for those facing significant resource pressures. It is important we continually explore the barriers to adoption and support small charities with the tools and skills to implement AI effectively and safely within their organisations. AI has the power to transform organisations facing rising demand for services and significant financial pressures. We are excited to support them on their journey, as we also begin ours, to implement AI technology in a way that works for them and ultimately benefits those who rely on their services.”

The Charity Digital Skills Report 2024 will officially launch on 11 July 2024 and will reveal how larger charities are embracing AI as well revealing the sector’s digital progress and current growing pains.