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Intro to AI Webinar

In case you missed it, our Generative AI for Associations webinar brought together a massive group of association professionals and artificial intelligence thought leaders to explore the implications and possibilities of the new technology.

With over 1,000 attendees and a very active chat, there was a lot to discuss. For our attendees, the experience with AI ranged from excitement and anecdotes about organizations currently experimenting with it to folks focused solely on the dangers it poses to the association industry. 

It’s safe to say there was a little bit of everything, so we parsed through the chat (we love to see it) and put together some of the hottest takes on AI, as told by you! 


Generative AI for Associations: How to Use ChatGPT and AI Tech Right Now!

Artificial intelligence (AI) is transforming how organizations operate faster than ever. Join Sidecar & ASAE as we dive into the possibilities for associations.

How Should We Be Thinking About AI?

  • “It’s assistive technology – and needs to be viewed as such. Like Tesla calling it autopilot – it doesn't drive the car while you sit in the back seat – it is designed to be assistive.” – Adam Savino, VP Technology and Org Effectiveness of ASIS International.
  • “‘We're overly careful.’ Preach! Risk is necessary to lead effectively. To lead industries, experimentation is essential. Great thoughts.” – Jake Gregory, COO of The Association Partner.
  • “When it comes to fearing AI... Anyone remember in 2009 and 2010 when so many were saying "Membership was dead?' How did that work out? Learn it. Embrace it. Find out how to meet member pain points with it.” – Tom Morrison, CEO of Metal Treating Institute
  • “Let's please not be seduced by the cool of GenAI. We have something quite concerning in our hands here, and we need to approach its use with care.” – Jeff De Cagna,  Executive Advisor of Foresight First LLC.
  • “I think the critical piece of this is to not think of GenAI as a solution, but as a tool - we have to be careful not to just accept the "85%" but keep the human component” – Rob Gates, Business Analyst for Bostrom.
  • “I think that 80% example is really important. Some people are using this expecting perfect results - in my view at least, it's a starting point, not an end result.” – Laura Brumsey, VP, Operations & Administration of Compressed Gas Association.

How Are People Using AI Today?

  • “I have been using ChatGPT for drafting all sorts of content for development: grant narratives, donor outreach, brochure content, web, job description, etc. The more specific characteristics provided, the better the output.” – Deborah Chin, Development Associate for LETS GO Boys and Girls.
  • “SO far my ChatGPT use has been as a "calculator for writing" it speeds processes up, and helps me when I am stuck” – John Overington, Director of Membership of NSA.
  • “I as a Deaf person, rely on transcriptions/captioning way more and I find it a helpful tool, NOT a replacement for American Sign Language” – Ashley Dowling, Director, NonProfit Operations for MCI USA.
  • “I had someone reach out on social, and I was able to translate with ChatGPT and answer his question in Spanish.” – Courtney Rodseth, Marketing & Communications Coordinator for California Primary Care Association. 
  • “I did see someone yesterday got the HTML to build buttons within an LMS course (buttons within buttons), and I was impressed with that and will use it to help with code in the future” – Shoshana Gitlin of American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
  • “I've found it most useful for generating SOPs and summarizing action items and agendas for meetings. It's also helpful for improving existing SOPs and surprisingly good with generating basic contracts such as licensing agreements.” – Martha Hawley-Bertsch, Director, Product Management for ACOG. 
  • “Conference theme ideas, blog posts, newsletter articles, social media posts. I asked for a complete marketing plan for our conferences, and it gave me a complete plan as well as a table with the desired results. I then customized that.” – Courtney Rodseth, Marketing & Communications Coordinator for the California Primary Care Association.
  • “I can't even begin to tell you how much time I've saved letting GPT summarize resumes and accomplishment lists into bios for speakers or a list of topics into lesson objectives!” – Cassandra Van Tassel, Educational Operations Specialist for the Arkansas Hospital Association.

What Are the Issues With AI?

  • “My question is where do we draw the line? How will consumers know what is real and what is AI? In the association world, so much of what we do is about relationships. Am I really talking to Candi or her AI?” – Candi Rawlins, Executive Director of Tennessee Recreation & Parks Association.
  • “While I agree it is somewhat unnerving, it is here. Our kids and staff are ALL using this. I think it is something we cannot stick our heads in the sand and say we are scared of it. It is not going away, but knowledge is power.” – Michelle Grachek, President of the National Association of Long Term Care Administrator Boards.
  • “You should also check for/understand the bias in the datasets for the AI before you employ its services. Once you know the biases in the data, then you can curtail the biases in the results.” – Andrea Wieters, Director, Strategic and Future Focused Research for American Society of Association Executives.
  • “AI is not black and white. Very powerful tools can provide great opportunities, and ChatGPT is no exception. But you also need to keep an eye on the potential for bad things (disinformation, deepfake, etc.) So ethical framework is needed” – Karine Blaufuss, Director, Business Data and Intelligence for American Geophysical Union.
  • “Expect an order of magnitude increase for the level of sophistication for phishing attempts, as ChatGPT will be helping author these types of campaigns in the future. How do we counter this?” – Carlos Cardenas, Senior Director of IT for NBCRNA.
  • “How will we be prepared for complex systems without directly engaging with them and developing the competencies needed? The risks here seem like more reason to dive in.” – Jack Coursen, Senior Director, Professional Development of ASHA.

The Potential Impact on Associations

  • “Here's something I'm concerned about in the short term – AI is going to be embedded in search engines and provide more complete answers to questions. As associations, we use search to let people know we have a great knowledge base of experts.” – Ann Feeney, Digital Strategy for the Alzheimer's Association.
  • “Yes - everything public on our websites is already fed into the machine. How do we protect information and content behind the “paywall”? – Jessica Struve, Deputy Executive Director of Radiology Business Management Association.
  • “From the association standpoint - how do we get our content/expertise into the training datasets to ensure we are supporting accuracy” – Rhea Steele, Chief of Staff for the School Nutrition Association
  • “If we (associations) are positioning ourselves as a "trusted source" we should be transparent in how we are using AI and our fact-checking processes.” – Jessica Struve, Deputy Executive Director of Radiology Business Management Association.
  • “Fear factor: Associations often place significant value on staff knowledge/expertise. What happens when third-party competitors train AI to answer questions and provide expertise in just a few keyboard strokes?” – Joseph Burak, Founder & Chief Strategist of TRANSiT Strategy & Analytics

How Could Associations Use It?

  • “I would love to have a governance resource for bylaws & policies to make it easier for board/committee members to get answers quickly – if we can do that with AI that's a win. A lot of staff time is spent educating for governance” – Heather Blush, CEO of Blush Consulting.
  • “Another idea from today: I wanted to create an FAQ customer service page for our LMS, and this might make that a lot easier.” – Shoshana Gitlin of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
  • “I'm seeing questions about tone and also thinking about the ability to provide an input of a corporate style guide to get content even more aligned.” – Shell Walser, Deputy Director, Operations of ASH
  • “When it comes to thinking differently about our members and looking for other viewpoints, ChatGPT is millions of other viewpoints all at once. Worth playing with.” – Beth Arritt, President & CEO of The Arritt Group.
  • “How can we strategically shift from the typical LMS delivery into more of a content delivery strategy, the concept of letting members drive their own search experience to find resources.” – Laura Shelters, Director, Edu of AASLD.
  • “A dedicated AI for a single publication could be an iteration of content like speaking to the author or tutor.” – Michael Moran, Director of Publications for AAMC.
  • “I saw a mention of how can Associations monetize AI. One thing I would point out is that if a capable chatbot can reduce calls into your call center by 80%, then you can refocus staff efforts towards more valuable work.” – Chip Flater, Director of Information Technology of American Counseling Association.
  • “I've seen a few questions about concerns that people will "search" AI for answers instead of coming to the association site - but if you use AI to make sure the content they want is right in front of them when they log in, that less concerning” – Beth Arritt, President & CEO for The Arritt Group.
  • “​This technology can make your website stickier because it's a better experience. We need our members to see us as the source of our information. The value add is giving them what they need on a platter, not scattered around the site.” Wendy Cobrda – Sr Dir Membership & Strategy for American Animal Hospital Association.

Keep the Conversation Going

Regardless of where you land on the use of AI in your organization, the reality is your members, and (most likely) staff are already experimenting with it. While you may not want to make it a part of daily operations – which is totally fine – at a minimum, you need to have a general understanding of how it works, the implications it has on your industry and the ways it can be used in your organization.

Jose Triana
Post by Jose Triana
March 17, 2023
Jose Triana is a writer and creative focused on helping purpose-driven organizations learn and find value online. When he isn't working on content, you can catch him going for a run or resting with a good book.