Experimenting with ChatGPT: practical uses for nonprofit communicators

Dec 15, 2023

When ChatGPT went public a year ago, I responded to the buzz about generative AI with my post What nonprofit communicators need to know about AI content generators. I had been thinking about AI tools for a few months and felt optimistic about those designed specifically for writers and content marketers.

In the subsequent months, I started experimenting with Writer, Jasper, and Wordtune. The results were interesting but didn’t always hit the mark. In March 2023, Grammarly launched their built-in AI writing assistant, and since I was already using Grammarly (and had been for years), I returned to my usual workflow and tools. For the rest of the year, I abandoned any further exploration of generative AI tools but continued to pay attention to the landscape with the help of two podcasts: Hard Fork and The Marketing AI Show.

In multiple episodes of The Marketing AI Show this fall, cohost Paul Roetzer recommended paying for ChatGPT 4 and simply experimenting with potential use cases. It was a hectic time, so I took this advice and decided to try using ChatGPT as an alternative to an assistant or subcontractor — while retaining my core creative, advisory and writing tasks. It turned out that I started coming up with seemingly endless potential uses and suddenly went from hardly using generative AI at all to using it daily to save hours of research or administrative time.

17 nonprofit communications use cases for ChatGPT

Though I work as an external consultant, many of my experiments with ChatGPT have potential for in-house nonprofit communicators (and I’ve been asked a few times for my thoughts on AI), so I decided to share some of them with you. Remember that I’m still learning and experimenting, so this post is more of an idea roundup than a comprehensive guide. Also, I haven’t addressed the broader issues around responsible and ethical AI use for nonprofits. Here are some of the ways I’ve used ChatGPT in the last two months:

Project planning

  • Developing a project’s scope of work: Clarifying objectives, deliverables, and timelines.
  • Creating a project timeline: Charting out key project steps and phases, with timeframes.

Strategy development

  • Crafting audience personas: Assembling data and insights to form detailed audience profiles for targeted communication strategies.
  • Structuring a strategy document: Constructing a framework and format for delivering strategic recommendations.
  • Formulating questions for briefings: Determining questions to unearth strategic insights from briefings and stakeholder consultations.
  • Summarizing comprehensive reports: Condensing extensive reports into executive summaries.

Meeting preparation

  • Constructing agendas: Defining topics, objectives, and expected outcomes for meetings.
  • Outlining presentations: Organizing content for clear and engaging delivery.

Communications review and refinement

  • Evaluating accessibility: Identifying accessibility issues in email newsletter design.
  • Refining processes: Suggesting refinements to an existing process.
  • Drafting position descriptions: Articulating role descriptions to align team efforts with organizational goals.

Research and analysis

  • Exploring best practices: Investigating industry standards and best practices for specific tasks.
  • Comparing communication approaches: Analyzing and contrasting differing communication approaches.
  • Beginning a competitor analysis: Evaluating the competitive landscape for an organization and identifying opportunities for differentiation.

Content marketing

  • Generating blog post themes: Proposing relevant and engaging topics for readers and key points to include for those topics.
  • Crafting blog post headlines: Crafting multiple blog titles to kick start the creative process.
  • Choosing emojis: Suggesting visual elements to complement and accompany email subject lines or social media posts.
Abstract representation of strategy development in nonprofit communications. The central focus is a large brainstorming cloud in light teal, surrounded by smaller clouds symbolizing audience personas and strategy documents in dark green and purple. The background is a subtle cream color with dark grey highlights, conveying a sense of organization, creativity, and strategic planning

An image generated by DALL-E, which the AI describes as “An abstract representation of strategy development in nonprofit communications, featuring brainstorming clouds and strategy documents.”

For all of these tasks, ChatGPT has delivered a good rough start, which I could then develop further (though it appears to be true the AI has been getting lazier lately). Tip: you’ll get better results when your prompts provide context, are based on strategy, and include specific, detailed instructions. For help with prompt writing, see this article from Nielson Norman Group, Prompt Structure in Conversations with Generative AI.

The biggest fails happened when I played around with using DALL-E to create images for blog posts and translate data into infographics (it generated disappointing images, word clouds and a useless bar graph). The image I asked DALL-E to generate to accompany this post was disappointing in several ways, including its inability to match my brand despite my providing specific colour codes.

Are you experimenting with generative AI?

Using ChatGPT in my workflows has helped me round out my thinking or ideas, save time, and accelerate the initial planning, rough draft, or outline stages.

What about you? Are you already using generative AI in your nonprofit communications work? Did any of the uses I’ve shared above help you think about using ChatGPT in ways other than drafting copy? If you are interested in more details about my experiments so far or would like to share your use cases, get in touch!

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