AI For Good: How 3 Nonprofits Grew Their Impact With Machine Learning

Nonprofits can grow their impact in exciting ways by harnessing the newest data tools. Here’s how staff at three nonprofits with different missions and backgrounds used artificial intelligence to create solutions for a better world.


Have you used your data to be more accountable to your community? To improve equity in your programs? Have you exchanged data with like-minded organizations to grow your impact? Whether data is on your nonprofit’s radar as a tool for good or not, you will be inspired by the stories of these three organizations.

They took advantage of a free opportunity through DataRobot’s AI for Good program. The program provides nonprofits with a team of experts and software that will help organizations leverage their data to drive impact with AI. Here’s what the collaboration helped these organizations achieve:

    1. Anacostia Riverkeeper is using AI to improve visibility into water quality.

    Anacostia Riverkeeper’s mission is to protect and restore the Anacostia River, which weaves around the Washington, D.C. region. Anacostia Riverkeeper’s team regularly tests the water quality, but current methods take days for the results to come back. This delays when the results can be shared with the community, which is problematic because test results can become outdated quickly.

    With the help of DataRobot, the Anacostia Riverkeeper team designed a system to predict if E. coli levels in the water are at unsafe levels. They pull in available government geological data, such as temperature and water height, so that water quality can be estimated multiple times per day. Their approach can be adopted in other communities dealing with contaminated rivers.

    2. Kiva applies the power of AI to make financial support accessible.

    The World Bank estimates that 1.7 billion people lack access to regulated financial services, such as credit cards and loans. Through their crowdfunding platform, the nonprofit Kiva makes it possible for more people to access loans to start a small business, invest in their farm, or pay for school. But some loans on Kiva’s platform weren’t getting enough visibility and would go unfunded.

    Kiva’s team of data scientists and software engineers partnered with the DataRobot AI for Good program to help solve this problem by improving the way loans are promoted to lenders. By using data about each loan, including daily popularity, the Kiva team worked with DataRobot to build dozens of models to identify relationships in the data.

    Thanks to these models, Kiva can now predict which loans are unlikely to be funded each day. They use this information to identify loans that aren’t getting as much attention and promote them on their platform to increase their visibility. By using this information, they are closer to achieving their mission of expanding financial access around the world in underserved communities.

    3. The UCSF Brain and Spinal Injury Center improves treatment guidelines using insights from machine learning.

    The Brain and Spinal Injury Center at the University of California, San Francisco and Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital have built the largest available dataset on acute spinal cord injuries. They partnered with DataRobot to better understand the drivers of patient outcomes and improve treatment guidelines.

    Patients with spinal cord injuries have often experienced a sudden accident, such as a vehicle crash or a fall, which can result in permanent paralysis or loss of sensory functions. By using their dataset and working with DataRobot’s team, UCSF found a vital link between patients’ blood pressure during surgery and their likelihood of recovery. Now, their doctors and surgeons are looking closer at these learnings to see if new operating room recommendations could improve outcomes for patients with these challenging injuries.

These are just some of the many ways nonprofits are taking advantage of the latest developments in AI.

Featured Photo: ICT Education and Job Creation for Rural Africa by Learning Lions gUG
Get Free Tips + Tools in Your Inbox
Subscribe to get the best content from the Learn Library in your inbox once per month.
Meet Your New Fundraising Team
Join GlobalGiving for training and support tailored to you.

Looking for something specific?

Find exactly what you're looking for in our Learn Library by searching for specific words or phrases related to the content you need.

WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.