By Kevin Leahy • July 12, 2019

    AAAC Issues First State of Artificial Intelligence in Advancement Report

    BOSTON, July 12, 2019 -- The AI in Advancement Advisory Council (AAAC), a first-of-its-kind organization committed to open discussion about where artificial intelligence (AI) technology can and should have an impact on advancement, today released the first State of AI in Advancement Report. The study is the first benchmark on the adoption rate, uses, opinions, of AI in the advancement industry, and more, and comes at a time when artificial intelligence is beginning to revolutionize philanthropy.

    “We’ve entered an amazing chapter of innovation and progress with artificial intelligence,” said AAAC member Reed Sheard, Vice President for College Advancement and Chief Information Officer, Westmont College. “In order to truly harness this technology in a way that helps us build successful organizations, it will be critical to utilize AI in a manner that always seeks to benefit society. It is important to ask both ‘What can we do?’ as well as ‘What should we do?’. The early results we’ve seen represent new opportunity and I am excited about what the future holds.”

    The AAAC’s State of AI in Advancement Report includes an historic overview of AI and its special connection to philanthropy, findings from a survey of more than 200 industry professionals on the state of AI in advancement, an analysis of how AI is changing the advancement workforce -- including where pathways need to be created for reskilling workers -- and a pledge that the AAAC recommends all nonprofit advancement organizations take to ensure the ethical, effective, and fair use of AI within advancement.

    “As artificial intelligence revolutionizes what’s possible in advancement, it’s incredibly important that we remember why we’ve committed our careers to organizations and missions that propel society forward,” said AAAC member Kim D. Rich, Executive Director Advancement Services, The Medical University of South Carolina. “The AAAC has included an AI Pledge in our study to address these ethical concerns and we encourage all organizations to consider this pledge as they determine how they will use AI in their work.”


    The State of AI in Advancement Report was conducted by the AAAC using a quantitative online survey methodology. A total of 210 advancement professionals completed the survey in April and May of 2019. It was conducted among a diverse set of respondents from the nonprofit sector, including higher education institutions, nonprofit organizations, and healthcare institutions.

    What is clear from the findings of the report is that there is a fundamental education gap in the use of AI for advancement. While 89 percent of respondents agree that AI will make their advancement team more efficient, only 28 percent report that their organization has deployed, is implementing, or is experimenting with AI.

    “As the first company focused on building artificial intelligence exclusively for social good, we knew that it would be important to also lead the effort to ensure that the advancement industry is applying AI in a fair and ethical manner,” said AAAC member Adam Martel, CEO, Gravyty. “As part of this study, the AAAC has suggested a pledge that organizations, including the builders of AI, should consider. Gravyty is proud to be the inaugural signatory of this pledge which reflects our dedication to building and applying AI in a fair, ethical and transparent manner in order to make the world a better place.”


    “Artificial intelligence should improve all that it touches and now that we’re seeing the impact of AI on advancement, it’s critical that we apply this standard to the lives of those that our industry employs,” said AAAC member Rod Grabowski, Vice President for University Advancement, University at Buffalo. “Together, the AAAC is going beyond simply identifying the jobs and roles that are changing because of AI. We will take action to create pathways to ensure advancement professionals have reskilling opportunities as AI transforms our industry.“

    Any new technology, including AI, poses a risk to the workers in any industry; however, the AAAC aims to assist job growth and function rather than replacing these positions. The goal of the AAAC is to identify where and how AI will impact the workforce and address these issues before they arise. Within the AAAC’s State of AI in Advancement Report is a full assessment of advancement roles, the likelihood that they will be influenced by AI technology, the risk that they will be replaced by technology, and a recommendation on where we need to develop new pathways to reskill the workforce.

    To read the full State of AI in Advancement Report, download a free copy here.

    AAAC - The State of AI in Advancement Report


    In October 2018, members of the advancement industry came together to form the AI in Advancement Advisory Council (AAAC). With the belief that artificial intelligence (AI) technology was beginning to revolutionize the way fundraising works, these leaders recognized the need to help shape AI’s role in the industry. Entirely volunteer-driven by the passion of its members, the AAAC is committed to open discussion on where AI technology can and should have an impact in advancement, and to solving key challenges that stand in the way of widespread adoption.

    The AAAC exists to serve our community and help promote the evaluation, use, learnings, and outcomes from applying AI in advancement.

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