5 Ways Self-Driving Technology Can Help Non-profits & NGOs
Posted by Christopher Brewer
With growing demand for services and limited funding opportunities, today’s non-profit organizations need to look for new ways to achieve efficiency, reduce administrative costs, and maximize the use of their available resources. Technology is often seen as the tool that can help them achieve that, but traditional enterprise software has not always delivered on that promise. With legacy systems, people would often have to manually register and maintain information, preventing them from spending time on their actual job and on better program delivery.
This is where self-driving technology can help non-profits, enabling them to free up their people from menial and repetitive tasks, and empower them in areas where they can make a difference. A self-driving system is about embracing the power of intelligence such as machine learning, A.I. and pattern recognition, to significantly reduce input of data and shift our work towards only managing exceptions. It is the melding of two “minds”, where intelligent software does the bulk of the work, provides in-context intelligent insight and recommendations, so people can make informed and timely decisions when it really matters.
Here are five ways how self-driving technology will help non-profits and NGOs be more efficient and better focus on their mission:
1. Automate financial processes to provide intelligence and keep donors up to date
Finance teams in non-profit organizations focus and spend a lot of time on transactions, manually entering and maintaining financial data. They need to accurately show donors how their funds are being used through accurate financial reporting. But, financial reporting is often difficult and cumbersome, adding to the finance team’s workload. All of these repetitive and manual tasks leave very little time for providing intelligence and strategic advice to the organization.
Self-driving technology can help non-profits to automate financial transactions and processes. Finance teams will no longer have to enter or collect data manually, intelligent software will do the most of the work, and accountants will only have to supervise and manage exceptions. This type of technology will free up finance departments to focus on more value adding and performance driven activities like intelligence and planning. And because finance systems are kept up to date 24/7, organizations will be able to provide real-time updates on grant expenditure to their donors or auditors by simply asking digital assistants.
2. Instantly respond to natural disasters and emergencies
Before a non-profit organization can determine the depth of their involvement with a natural disaster or emergency situation, they need to understand and evaluate what secured funding is available, as well as the targets and visibility of what is being booked for their emergency response teams. But a timely response can make all the difference when dealing with people in need.
Self-driving technology can help non-profits to make the important decision of whether they can respond to an emergency right away and how much funding they are able to allocate. Even if on the road, artificial intelligence and digital assistants can help decision makers get the information needed by just asking in human natural language, just like communicating with any other colleague. After non-profits decide to respond to an emergency, the self-driving system can automatically allocate materials and resources, based on location, population affected and the kind of natural disaster or emergency. This will allow non-profits to reduce lead time by developing a predictive supply chain and automatic order requests.
3. Streamline and automate grant management
Grant management is essential to the success of non-profit organizations. A self-driving system can not only help to streamline the process but also to maximize funding potential, better engage with donors and earn their confidence.
It all starts with grant applications. Often these can be time consuming, manual and redundant. With a self-driving infrastructure in place, grant receivers will be able submit pre-defined proposals with minimum human input. This is due to self-learning capabilities that suggest most of the data. Organizations that apply for the same grants on a yearly basis, will be able to do this automatically, no longer having to spend time on filling in the same application every year, and instead focusing on finding additional funding streams, and achieving further growth.
Once the proposals are approved, and the organization starts executing on a program, bots/intelligent agents can automatically take care of reporting back to donors. With artificial intelligence and digital assistants, grant information can be gathered by simply asking the system in human natural language. Self-driving technology can help non-profits to show donors that their funds are being spent appropriately, without taking time and effort away from people.
4. Allow employees and volunteers to focus on their mission
Technology should help and support employees and volunteers, but often it takes them away from concentrating on their mission. Manual data entry of time and expenses can be very time consuming and frustrating, especially when working in connectivity-challenged locations.
With self-driving solutions in place, timesheets and expenses are intelligently suggested and submitted automatically. Digital assistants only need to request the user’s approval with a quick conversation, bringing manual input to a minimum. Digital assistants can also learn more as more interactions happen, timesheet information can be based on existing schedules, completed tasks from previous weeks, specific project plans or even location. All of this reduces the users’ time spent on submitting tasks and gives them more on executing them, freeing mission workers to focus on helping those that need it most.
5. Understand which projects to execute
Non-profit organizations need to choose and prioritize which projects to execute but they often lack the information needed to make informed decisions. They also need to provide board members and donors with information on the progress of the project, and how funds will be used in the future.
Predictive analytics and process automation can help non-profit organizations to identify similar, historical projects which can be used as input for an initial assessment and recommendation about whether or not to move forward with the project. These historical projects can also be used to automate project creation with templates form previous projects. Self-driving technology can also eliminate the need for manual data gathering, allowing organizations to provide a clear, real-time visual experience for board members and donors.
Self-driving technology will enable non-profits not only to streamline administrative tasks or get more value out of their donations, but it will also help improve decision making, increase employee engagement, and ultimately enable organizations to focus on what really matters – the impact of their mission.