Should bots take over creativity for your nonprofit?

Generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) may seem like a fantastic solution for nonprofits to save money on creative costs, but it could actually cause more harm than good to your brand if its power is not wielded responsibly.

Illustration by Ane Arzelus

Generative Artificial intelligence (AI) has become a hot topic – and for good reason! It seems like there’s finally an answer to creating quicker images and writing. Saving time and money has to be a good thing for nonprofits, right?

In fact, when putting together our flagship course, The Matchbox Method, I gave Kajabi’s “course outline generator” a spin and I was shocked at how well it worked. Within seconds it generated an entire branding course outline, including a few extra chapters that I had forgotten! It also simplified the topics so they flowed more naturally for beginners – not a 14-year design veteran like myself. 

Traditionally, nonprofits are 10+ years behind in training and tech, but this is a tool that is being embraced so much faster. Nonprofits across the country are utilizing apps like Canva’s Magic Write, Chat GPT or Designs.ai. Despite the overwhelming amount of fear that’s brewing in the creative community – and lawsuits with artists and photographers around the world – I’m actually pro-AI. We could all use help generating better copy and expanding our design styles as long as the work is being done ethically and responsibly. 

Most designers and marketing managers know firsthand how stressful it can be to create a consistent brand. There’s a lot of pressure to make it perfect. Here’s where AI can quickly create an illusion – one that’s really enticing. If nonprofit leaders start believing that AI can solve all of their design and writing woes, we may need to think again. 

AI is a powerful tool that can help spark ideas or generate a great first draft, but anything we make with AI (or even free/purchased templates) should still pass through our distinct branding radar. 

How your voice, personality, and style match up to relay your nonprofit’s mission is critical if you want to build a consistent brand that expands your reach. And currently the only filter for that process is your good ol’ human self. 

There is no AI to replace our gut feeling about a brand. If we’re powering ahead with standardized shortcuts, we’re destined to build a bigger mess of our branding. The internet is a treasure trove of great-looking design templates and snappy copy, which can tempt us to go in 20 different directions, following cues from AI. Although the trendy designs may look good to us, having an indistinct smattering of content may cause confusion with our followers – not to mention that it may feel inauthentic. 

We must first understand ourselves and what our nonprofits stand for before we can introduce AI to the equation. 

“To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom.” ― Socrates

And the best way to know yourself? Spend time with yourself – both looking in the mirror and reflecting on where you’re heading. 

So when it comes to knowing your nonprofit, there are many different angles and doors to peek behind, especially if you’ve been around for a few years. Branding in its simplest form is the reciprocity between how we present ourselves to the world and how it’s received and accepted by people. 

Establish your brand on a sound strategy that gives you a clear understanding of what’s “on brand” for your organization.

These are the exact principles that we teach at HeartSpark and will be teaching in our flagship course – The Matchbox Method. But the main tool we use to establish a consistent nonprofit brand is a brand guideline. This simple, easy-to-use document contains all of your marketing prowess and elements of the brand in one place. And we’ve created a simple template to help get you started in Canva

Now, this guideline is in no way meant to be a stronghold to lock down your creativity, but instead is a way to keep your brand consistent from the inside out and inspire new ideas – whether you’re using AI to help with that or not. After you’ve established a brand guideline for your nonprofit, creating new marketing content, including writing and design, becomes infinitely easier. Plus, your team now has a “code” to run any new collateral through – it’s a win-win that’ll save you time and future-proof your brand. 

Whether AI is a passing trend or a tool that’s here to stay and improve with time – it provides a huge opportunity for your nonprofit to level up. The key is making sure you have a simple framework in place to help your team understand and communicate your nonprofit’s brand. If you’re ready to brave the waves with a sturdy ship, then your nonprofit will be prepared to leverage all that AI has to offer. 

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Lauren Atherton
Lauren Atherton
With over 13 years in the creative industry, Lauren uses her award-winning design experience with agencies, startups, and Fortune 200’s to help nonprofit organizations attract support through branding and design.