How A.I. and Automation Could Doom Charities and Nonprofits

How A.I. and Automation Could Doom Charities and Nonprofits

What a time to be alive.

Bob Dylan was right when he sang “the times, they are a-changin”. It’s a claim that would be even more accurate today. Exponential growth in technology and automation means the times will only ‘a-change’ faster, leaving the world as we know it increasingly different with each passing year.

But what does that mean for charities?

We’ve covered emerging roles for future nonprofits in past blogs, but for this post let’s explore a different possibility altogether: The declining need for charities altogether.

Tech gurus and futurists have predicted that automation will push many individuals out of jobs and work. As the number of unemployed grows, so too will calls for governments across the globe to implement universal basic income. As these basic citizen needs are met in the form of living wages, many charities and foundations will no doubt be affected, as their roles will diminish or not be needed at all.

Universal Basic Income is nothing new. The idea has been floated before, and even already implemented in Alaska. It no doubt has hurdles to address, economically and politically, but even conservative economists like the late Milton Friedman were proponents of the idea in the form of a Negative Income Tax.

More critically for nonprofits, economists like Michael Hicks contend that “very narrow exceptions to assistance and private sector charities will be needed.” when applying Universal Basic Income.

This wouldn’t mean the end of all charities, foundations, and nonprofits, but it would definitely shake things up. Regardless of agreeing with the idea or being completely against it, it’s worth watching the subject as it develops.

Interested in learning more about UBI? Check out this TED talk by Rutger Bregman for why he supports the idea: