How charities are exploring AI and voice tech

Nathan Baranowski


In a recent digital skills report, 69 per cent of charities said they expected digital tools to completely change the voluntary sector by 2028. Of course, it’s unlikely we’ll have to wait that long to see transformation.

Already, key technological advancements have proved revolutionary for charity organisations – the rise of social media, the proliferation of mobile apps and the introduction of seamless payment options are all shaping the way organisations in the third sector engage with the public and collect donations.

Now, a new contender is proving a worthy addition to the charity tech arsenal. Virtual assistants may have once been limited in their capabilities, but today, vast developments in voice tech and artificial intelligence have paved the way for a new means of fundraising.  While it may still have room to mature in sophistication, charities are harnessing the potential of voice tech to facilitate the act of donating and help educate their audience on the key issues at stake.

With more development, we can expect the number of charities adopting voice tech to grow as the benefits become impossible to ignore.


Facilitating fundraising through smart speakers

Leading the way, Amazon recently unveiled Alexa donations, a feature that now comes as standard Skill within all Amazon Echo devices. Soon, UK charities will be able to receive donations from people giving voice commands to their Amazon smart speaker, a feature that proved revolutionary in its US trial. With one in ten people in the UK now in possession of a smart speaker, voice tech could prove a simple way for charities to reach people in their homes.

Thanks to this development, it’s never been easier to contribute to charity and make a difference. All users need to do is to ask their smart speaker to make a donation and state the amount: “Alexa, donate £5 to Wiltshire Air Ambulance,” for example. They will then be prompted to give a four-digit pin as a security measure (after all, no one wants their child to accidentally donate their life savings through a smart speaker) and the transaction will be made through Amazon Pay.

At present, only a certain number of charities are registered to receive payments in this way, The British Heart Foundation being the first UK organisation to join the list. By enabling the BHF skill in the Alexa app, users can either make a one-off donation of their chosen amount or arrange a pick-up of unwanted furniture and electrical items to be sold in one of their charity stores in the UK.

Harnessing AI to boost health and wellbeing

This year, Cancer Research have been experimenting with emerging technology, exploring the potential of voice activated assistants and AI capabilities to drive public engagement. So far, their efforts have seen the launch of two new Skills on the Amazon Alexa.

The first is a flash briefing Skill, a voice-activated feature which alerts users to key developments and breakthroughs in scientific research. The second comes as part of the prevention side of their research strategy – an alcohol intake tracker which helps users to monitor and moderate their alcohol consumption to reduce the risk of cancer and promote a healthier lifestyle. Through this feature, people were able to set goals and measure their progress against their ideal consumption level in the week.

Beyond this, Breast Cancer Care has further launched their new Alexa skill, a feature that is designed to share vital information on the warning signs and symptoms of the disease. Considering only 48 per cent of women in the UK regularly check their breasts for abnormalities, this development could be a breakthrough in supporting patients who have been diagnosed and encouraging women to be more vigilant.

Naturally, adoption of new technological tools demands a strategic approach. If you’re eager to explore the potential that AI and voice tech have to offer your charity or organisation, get in touch with us today to find out how you could benefit.


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