When I saw those 10 words in a tweet recently, I took the bait. It’s got everything a “good” tagline or teaser should have. It spoke directly to me! It built me up, then tore me down. Because of that, it reeled me in.
And wouldn’t you know, that tweet was written by a chatbot technology called ChatGPT.
What is ChatGPT?
ChatGPT is the newest English-speaking artificial intelligence (AI) “large language model” (LLM) from OpenAI. What is that? If you’ve interacted with a chatbot before, it’s like that—but draws from a much larger set of information, and likely communicates in a more human-like, conversational manner.
I actually asked ChatGPT to explain to me what it is in simple terms, and it replied:
“ChatGPT is a computer program that is designed to generate text responses to prompts in a way that resembles how a human would respond. It is based on a type of machine learning called "transformer" architecture and was trained on a dataset of human conversations, so it can generate responses that are appropriate and sound like they were written by a human. ChatGPT is often used in chatbots and other systems that need to communicate with humans through written language.”
Simple enough, right? So should fundraisers be worried about their job security? We don’t think so. But, don’t ignore the AI conversation entirely. The underlying LLM technology is here to stay in one form or another. ChatGPT is powerful, and impressive. Whatever comes next (see: GPT4) will be better.
A little knowledge about new technology goes a very long way. You don’t have to drink the AI Kool-Aid to be able to hold a thoughtful, informed opinion about the topic.
How Can Fundraisers use ChatGPT, or similar AI Language Models?
As a Teaching Tool There’s a learning curve to writing for nonprofits, and it’s a skill packed with nuance and finesse as you repurpose content across channels and audience segments. But, it’s teachable. It’s not innate, and it’s not mysterious. If you’re hiring and managing talent that is new to the profession, copy generated from a neutral third-party like ChatGPT can be a great starting point for giving feedback with personal stakes removed. Rather than tearing a new hire’s first draft to bits, try sitting down together with a ChatGPT draft and a red pen, and point out what you would do differently, and why. You’ll not only be teaching your new fundraiser the writing skills they’ll need on the job, you’ll also be demonstrating what you’re looking for when reviewing a draft, the tone and style of feedback you’ll be providing in the future, and the level of quality you expect.
To Bust Through Writer’s Block Whether you’re writing a short thank you note or a multi-page case for support, the blinking cursor on a blank white screen is intimidating AF. But many people thrive when asked to edit and revise a draft—especially when they didn’t write it. You could ask ChatGPT to draft an email for you, write any number of survey questions, write 10 email subject lines, or write a brief thank you note. Should you copy and paste it? No. Should you use it as a starting point, tearing it apart and infusing your own voice and personality? Yes! Jeff Brooks wrote about exactly this topic, and it's worth a read.
To Simplify a Concept or Technology Daniel Lombardi recently wrote about how a large Canadian hospital foundation is using AI copywriting tools to speed up proposal development by turning dry, technical descriptions of equipment or medical interventions into more conversational, simplified copy that a human team member can then fact check, revise, and refine. Smart!
To Challenge Ideas or Assumptions Discourse and debate are a great way to learn. You can clarify your own position on an issue by better understanding a counterargument, and strengthen the logic and phrasing of rebuttals and challenges. Of course you can ask ChatGPT a question and get an answer, but the real power of ChatGPT is unlocked when you continue to engage. Ask for more detail and rationale, challenge it to restate arguments, and push for more detail. And, when it gives you a flawed or incorrect answer (yes, that happens), correct it and see where that takes the conversation.
We think you should give it a try, if for no other reason than to separate fact from fiction for yourself. Chances are you’ll be inspired and come away with a few ideas for how you might put technology like this to use in your organization. If you do, please tell us!
How to access ChatGPT:
Head to chat.openai.com
You’ll need to create a free account, or log in with an existing account. This will require providing an email, a name, and a phone number to receive a verification code.
Once you’ve verified your email, you’re in! Don’t submit or provide any sensitive, personal or protected information.