Artificial intelligence

In our latest post, we chat to Emma Novis and Tillie Corlett from CharityComms about the AI hub, a fantastic resource to help charity communications teams navigate the dynamic world of artificial intelligence.

1. What led you to develop the CharityComms AI hub? 

Artificial intelligence (AI) has been a bubbling subject of late. The rapid development of generative AI technology in recent years has brought it to the forefront, particularly for charity communicators and digital leads. AI has simultaneously opened up vast opportunities and a new avenue for experimentation, but has rightly come with hefty conversations around ethics, risks and values.

Communicators are likely to have leading roles in developing – and certainly communicating – the ways in which charities respond and/or progress with AI, as well as navigating a stream of information on the subject to stay appropriately informed. At a time when communication teams (and their colleagues) find themselves stretched, this can be a big ask.

As the membership organisation for charity communicators, CharityComms feels the imperative to cover emerging and consistent topics that affect charity communications, creating forums in which learning can be shared in digestible and thought-provoking ways. Our members share the topics they’d like us to cover and, perhaps unsurprisingly, AI was a recurring theme.

We are not experts in AI; we are learning just like other charities. So, we have deferred to the insights from both inside and outside of the sector to deliver support for charity communicators through our events, AI hub page or the accompanying resource, which we hope will help communicators assess where they are on their AI journey and unearth the path ahead.

2. What does the hub include? How would you like charities to use it?

The AI hub is a space where we collate the latest news articles, thought pieces and resources from the charity sector and beyond. We update this page regularly to help charity communicators keep a finger on AI’s (figurative) pulse. Our hope is that people bookmark it and refer to it when they want information or inspiration about AI, and that it ultimately helps to reduce the cognitive load of having to source information.

It’s a new resource, so we’re hoping that as we work with our members on content, it will develop more and more. We have an open call for charities, agencies or freelancers to reach out to us to share useful things to add – in case we’ve missed anything in our updates that really should be there. Better yet, we’d love for people to reach out to us to discuss ideas.

Currently the page includes our recent resource ‘Developing your comms approach to AI’ that has a series of summaries and exercises that communicators can use to assess or progress their journey.

3. Are you hearing any concerns about artificial intelligence from your members? 

Our recent Salary and Organisational Culture Survey report – an annual survey that benchmarks salary and measures workplace changes for charity communicators – found that 70% of respondents do not have an organisational policy or guidelines on AI to steer them.

Encouragingly, the majority feel that communications is effectively embedded within their organisation, although just 28% said their charity have a defined digital strategy. While digital is embedded into our everyday working, the figures and comments indicate that strategic direction and knowledge at the top levels of an organisation could do with improving.

Approaches to adopting AI into working practices vary: 27% of our survey respondents said they do not currently use AI and have no plans to in the future; while 24% said they aren’t quite there yet but are planning to start. The others are either experimenting or have already started to integrate it into their operations.

At our recent seminar on Generative AI, 63% of respondents in the event poll said their comms teams are curious about AI, but 51% of the respondents said their organisation did not openly encourage it.

We aim to share emerging best practice and boost knowledge and confidence to be a springboard for essential discussions.

4. The AI hub includes lots of great research and resources. What did you learn along the way? 

We’re learning lots, thanks to the generous spirit of sharing in the sector – for example, the findings from the Salary and Organisational Culture Survey on AI appetite to the developing thought leadership from across our sector.

Ultimately, we feel the key thing has been the reinforcement that the principles behind a thriving communications function still stand, even with the potential for significant innovation. This includes a deep understanding and recognition of the comms functions at senior levels of the organisation; taking a values-based approach; balancing the risks and opportunities to determine the best course of action; the vitalness of research and understanding the context you are working within; and, importantly, having the time and resource to learn and funnel this insight into safe experiments.

We have a lot to learn from each other in the process. Like any journey, the pace and story are up to us, but we should look to others for inspiration.

5. What are the key trends in artificial intelligence for charity comms professionals in 2024? Where do you see the most potential? 

We revert to the experts when reviewing topics like these.

During our research, reading and discussions, the rise in Shadow AI – where the use of AI within an organisation is unknown and ungoverned – stood out to us. This will be particularly important as audiences expect transparency and platforms label AI-generated content to combat deep fakes. In our resource, we encourage communicators to have open conversations about AI and to log their usage.

There have been calls for demonstrations for how best to put AI into practice (and we know there is a lot on offer in the sector to answer this). We will likely see more discussions around AI’s sectoral and wider impact as it develops, punctuated by updated guidance.

For those organisations that want to utilise AI technology, the biggest potential may be an answer to resourcing challenges. AI can take on more manual processes, so teammates are freed up for trickier work with more impact. From helping to generate ideas and kickstart projects, to navigating and summarising dense pieces of data, there are already lots of practical ways charities can use AI tools to make processes and ways of working simpler and more effective.

However, it’s important to maintain the human element in our work, which is the heart of communications. This will require oversight through clear processes, avoiding the traps of over reliance and consideration of our messaging around AI’s role. Ultimately, the value of AI is in how the systems are used and developed.

A lot can happen in a year, so we are keenly keeping up with AI like other charities. As Jonathan Tanner, founder of Rootcause Global, pointed out in a blog for us, artificial intelligence will keep on learning. And so will we.

About the authors

Emma Novis joined CharityComms in 2008 to help develop and grow the organisation. She has done everything from managing the website to running CharityComms’ events portfolio. Today Emma is the Senior events producer, developing concepts, formats and content for our flagship conferences and seminars.

Tillie Corlett joined CharityComms in August 2023 as the Communications and Engagement Manager to oversee and support our content calendar and platforms. She brings to the team a varied professional and academic background in storytelling, marketing and communications. Tillie is passionate about helping individuals to tell their stories and building communities and content that connects people and ideas.

About CharityComms

CharityComms is the membership network for communications professionals working in and with UK charities. To contact us about this article, email