High Hopes — How technology will change the social sector

As cutting-edge technology becomes readily available, I wanted to talk about how technology can be used by non-profits for greater impact.

I watched Google I/O 2018 recently and was amazed to see the advancements in Deep-learning and Artificial-Intelligence(AI) making their way onto our smartphones. What better way to showcase the power of AI than by using AI to write an introduction for this blog?

Me: Write an introduction for my blog

AI: Challenge accepted!

“Too many nonprofits have been left behind in the digital revolution that’s reshaping business and society. Nonprofits typically have limited IT, staff, making it challenging to maximize the full benefits of technology. In response to rising global need and increasing donor interest, many nonprofit organizations have rapidly grown operations, but many are unprepared to provide the security and financial transparency necessary to keep up with the scale and pace. Nonprofits deserve devices that will help them unlock the true potential of their people and teams, and improve the impact they have in the world .”

An AI that was asked to write on non-profits leveraging technology for greater impact in India generated everything in quotes.

The system used an RNN (recurrent neural-network) that was trained by “reading” millions of articles on the internet. To read more about the system please check out this amazing repository Neural-Storyteller by Jamie Kiros.

Tough problems, smart solutions

The scale of the problems that non-profit organisations are looking to solve is magnitudes more than the capacities they have. If nonprofits look to scale, they have to become more data-driven.

This means embracing data in every aspect of the organisation, from management to operations. An organisation that delivers mid-day meals to children could use AI to quickly find inefficiencies in their supply chain. This would make the entire process faster and more cost-effective. If done right, it can be one of their key allies in driving change.

However, the social space requires the people designing these tools to have an in-depth understanding of the sector. It requires talented data-scientists, system architects and technologists working on solutions specifically designed for the unique needs of the sector.

People solve problems — Ideas don’t

At GiveIndia, we are currently working on integrating AI into our product offerings. We are about to launch our “GIVE NOW” button which leverages AI and Machine learning. This enables readers of online news to take action on the social issues that they have just read about.

The button derives context from the article text, understands it and directs the user to a relevant NGO program on our platform. With this, it is our hope that people can come together and start taking action to solve some of India’s biggest social problems.

We are also looking at leveraging technologies like blockchain to solve some of the other major problems we face as a giving marketplace. A system built on top of blockchain would ensure proper accountability of the funds that are being channeled through our platform. It is our hope that this helps us provide our donors with a clear view of how the organisations they support are using their funds.

GiveIndia hopes to leverage the strong technology team that we have built to create solutions that our partners can use to solve some of the biggest social problems they are tackling.

All the cutting-edge technologies in the world can’t make tools designed for fundamentally different purposes useful for the unique needs of this sector. What we do as non-profit and social good organizations is different than the retail or petrochemical or pharmaceutical world. We are not trying to get people to click on ads, we need them to help us change the world.


The inspiration for the title for this article was the song High Hopes by Pink Floyd and I would like to end this article by quoting from the song.

Looking beyond the embers of bridges glowing behind us
To a glimpse of how green it was on the other side
Steps taken forwards but sleepwalking back again
Dragged by the force of some in a tide
At a higher altitude with flag unfurled
We reached the dizzy heights of that dreamed of world

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