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How Governance Technology Can Help You Create Your Nonprofit’s AI Framework

How Governance Technology Can Help You Create Your Nonprofit’s AI Framework


From writing press releases to crafting fundraising pitches and boosting member engagement, generative artificial intelligence (AI) can help nonprofit organizations get more done. AI can take over repetitive administrative tasks, like generating reports or answering questions that come in through your organization’s website. AI can also save boards time by summarizing meeting notes, analyzing complex data or research reports and sending meeting reminders.

Because nonprofits usually have tight budgets and small staffs, generative AI in the form of ChatGPT and other natural language processing tools offer much needed support.  In fact, in the year since ChatGPT’s release, the use of generative AI has exploded in the business, education, medical, and nonprofit and association arenas.

However, AI can also present potential risks and pitfalls. The governance board and CEO should develop a strong AI framework that outlines the AI strategy and includes guidelines for usage. The framework can help minimize risk and prevent harm or other unforeseen consequences to the organization. It should align with the organization’s values, mission and long-term goals.

Whether your organization is an early adopter of the technology or just testing the AI waters, a strong framework is essential to harnessing the power and benefits of AI. Creating a strategy and guidelines may seem like a daunting task, especially because the tool is so new, and its complexity and sophistication grow with each new version. Fortunately, support is available through board management software.

As Richard Barber, CEO and board director at the Mind Tech Group, pointed out at a recent Diligent user conference, “If your board or leadership does not have an AI framework in place, they should. This should include strategy as well as the policies. Get some training, get some help.”

What to Consider for Your AI Framework and Guidelines

When developing an AI framework, board members and the CEO should consider these elements.

Alignment with mission and values

AI should support your organization’s goals and serve its community of volunteers, beneficiaries, vendors, corporate and organizational partners, and funders. Potential for reputational harm exists when AI tools produce emails, social media posts or other content that does not reflect your organization’s values.

Data privacy and security

AI relies heavily on data, which makes data handling a critical aspect of the framework. Nonprofits need to establish clear data collection, storage and sharing policies. Donors, volunteers, and beneficiaries should have confidence that their data is used securely and responsibly.


An AI framework should incorporate ethical guidelines for responsible use to ensure fairness, transparency and accountability in AI algorithms and decision-making processes.

Transparency and accountability

Organizations should be transparent about their use of AI, its decision-making processes and the data it collects. Regular audits, impact assessments and reporting on AI initiatives are crucial to ensuring compliance with established guidelines and principles.

Education and training

Board members may need training or support to understand AI technologies so they can make informed decisions. Organization staff and even volunteers will require training to use and maintain AI tools. Training requirements, including type and frequency, should also be included in the framework.

Using AI

The framework should outline how the AI will be used, and who will be responsible for using it. If usage has human resource implications, address how employees and volunteers will be receiving additional training, or be redeployed to other functions and jobs within your organization.

Monitoring and evaluation

The impact of AI should be regularly evaluated. Include mechanisms and metrics for evaluation in your framework, as well as goals for impact and effectiveness. Plan to make adjustments based on performance data.

Regulatory compliance

The framework should specify how your organization will comply with AI-related regulations and legal requirements.

Risk management

Identify potential risks associated with AI, such as system failures, data breaches or reputational harm. Include provisions for risk mitigation plans and policies in your framework.

How Board Management Software Supports AI Framework Building

Creating an AI framework can seem like a heavy lift, especially for boards and organizations that are just getting started. That’s where board management software can support nonprofit boards and CEOs as they create and refine AI usage guidelines for their organizations in a more efficient and collaborative manner.

Here’s how the software can play a role in AI guideline development:

  • Collaborate on document drafting: Board members and the CEO can use board software to create a shared document for drafts of AI guidelines. Members can collaboratively work on the document, suggest edits and provide feedback in real-time, reducing the need for physical meetings and email exchanges.
  • Leverage training: External experts in AI ethics or nonprofit AI usage can be invited to make virtual presentations or discussions panels. You can record these sessions through the board software, then allow access to all board members and others. Board members can watch the sessions at their convenience.
  • Data collection: Board management software can help collect data related to AI initiatives within the nonprofit sector general. This data can be used to inform the guidelines. For example, the committee can conduct surveys, analyze case studies and compile relevant reports.
  • Ethical considerations: Use board software to collaborate on the ethical principles that should underpin AI usage within your nonprofit. The software can facilitate discussions and revisions as committee members offer their insights.
  • Regular reviews and updates: Set up reminders and notifications within the board management software for regular reviews of the AI guidelines. Make it easy for the committee to schedule and conduct these reviews, and incorporate any necessary updates.
  • Board approval and adoption: Once the AI guidelines are finalized, the software allows for electronic voting and secure document sharing, ensuring that the guidelines are accessible to all board members.
  • Accessibility and reference: Store the approved AI guidelines securely within the board management software for easy access and reference by board members, staff and other parties. This central location ensures that the guidelines are readily available when needed.
  • Compliance: Implement the training and compliance aspects of the guidelines using the software. This may include tracking staff training, monitoring AI projects and reporting compliance issues.

Start Creating an Effective AI Framework Today

By using board management software to create AI usage guidelines, nonprofit boards can streamline their work, promote collaboration and ensure that the guidelines are accessible and regularly updated. This approach helps nonprofits ensure informed and responsible use of AI technology, while aligning with their values and mission.

Trusted board management software can help nonprofit governing boards create effective AI guidelines and policies. With software like BoardEffect, boards can collaborate easily to implement a strong AI framework.

BoardEffect is designed with the unique needs of volunteer boards in mind. Our nonprofit board management software streamlines board processes, enhances communication and promotes accountability, helping you to become an efficient and effective board.

To learn more about how a BoardEffect board management system can serve your mission-driven organization and support your AI best practices, request a demo today.


Kathleen Vail

Kathleen Vail is a writer and editor in Northern Virginia. She has been covering education and board governance issues at the local and national level for more than 30 years.

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