Impact Summit: What happens when you get Nonprofits in a room together? Progress.
Published May 14 2024 08:06 AM 741 Views

There was special energy in the air at LinkedIn’s Impact Summit 2024. As our nonprofit community and social impact professionals came together, we felt the collective sigh made possible by a space created at the intersection of global challenges, inspiration, and an unmatched bias for action.


Aptly themed Progress at Work, The Impact Summit in New York delivered a multi-layered dialogue around the future of work and the sector fueled with the distinct kind of actionable inspiration only made possible when our communities come together.


Shonda Rhimes, Founder and Chief Storyteller of Shondaland, described new ways to tell cause-related stories. YearUp CEO and President Ellen McClain highlighted how her organization is rooting their work on training, recruiting and career matching in a critical sense of belonging. Aneesh Raman, Vice President, Workforce Expert at LinkedIn, talked about the soft skills that tomorrow’s jobs will require, and encouraged a “pro-human” view in how we think about skills-based hiring.


This sentiment was echoed by Kate Behncken, Global Head of Microsoft Philanthropies, who identified together in an interview with Kelly Fukai, C.M, M.B.A, COO of WTIA, that we should not rush adoption of new technologies until we've trained ourselves on how and when to apply them. This was followed by a riveting Copilot demo by Erin McHugh Saif, Chief Product Officer of Tech for Social Impact for Microsoft Philanthropies, who taught us where to go, how to prompt and save time and energy with gen AI in grant writing and impact reports.


I had the honor of presenting with Brandolon Barnett, Head of Innovation and Philanthropy at Giving Compass, on the ways in which AI is redefining productivity for the nonprofits. As the sector finds itself managing a complex polycrisis with headwinds around generosity, staffing, and widespread burnout as the demand for nonprofit services continues to increase.


Devi Thomas and Brandolon Barnett on stage talking to an audience.Devi Thomas and Brandolon Barnett on stage talking to an audience.

As a group, we discussed how AI can be used to lift the burden of day-to-day tasks by letting AI help with document searches, meeting summaries and emails. It can elevate our work by helping us create first drafts and edits. All of this can then save time for what nonprofits do best; the uniquely human work of creating connections, building relationships and serving the community.


At its core, we hope our audience walked away with the understanding that a culture of trial and error is critical to nonprofit AI adoption. Use cases abound in impact. We need to fundamentally change the way we approach our work, from holding the pen to becoming editors. Rethinking how we ask questions. Challenging our own assumptions around what barriers are real and what are perceived. We have only scratched the surface of this work.


Fundamentally, our role in the broader scope of innovation, purpose and impact is that we believe that the nonprofit sector can do the most with our technology. Nonprofits are on the frontlines of every major challenge we face, so it is mission-critical for all of us that they get much closer to the solutions we build.


You can experience the special energy from Impact Summit 2024 by watching the global highlights on LinkedIn: Impact Summit 2024 | LinkedIn for Nonprofits


A room full of attendees at Impact Summit 2024 in New York.A room full of attendees at Impact Summit 2024 in New York.

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