Unlocking social impact: The intersection of AI and philanthropy

In the ever-evolving landscape of philanthropy, Artificial Intelligence (AI) can be a promising avenue for driving social impact. Entrepreneurs, industrialists, business leaders, promoters, and other stakeholders are realising AI’s immense transformative potential—from accelerating scientific breakthroughs to optimizing supply, revolutionizing processes, and driving efficiency across various sectors and functions. 

The promise of AI in philanthropy

AI holds the promise of amplifying impact through data-driven insights, predictive analytics, and automation to address pressing social development challenges in India. AI algorithms can analyse beneficiary data to create highly personalised interventions. This means using AI to tailor learning programs based on an individual’s strengths and weaknesses, maximizing their potential. 

Consider the initiative of the Central Square Foundation (CSF) that is working towards improving the learning outcomes of children from low-income communities. CSF supported the contextualization of three personalised adaptive learning (PAL) solutions—MindSpark, Convegenius, and Funtoot for adoption in Government schools in Andhra Pradesh. These solutions tailored instruction to each child’s learning level supporting the teacher to address the heterogeneity in the classroom.  These AI-based solutions can be particularly useful to support remediation and address the issue of multi-level classrooms. The program is now being evaluated by Michael Kremer and his team at the Development Innovation Lab.

AI-powered platforms can analyse vast amounts of data to identify trends, predict outcomes, and allocate resources more effectively. This allows philanthropic organizations to be proactive, rather than reactive—reallocating resources in vulnerable areas in the anticipation of a potential disaster. 

Similarly, AI-driven healthcare initiatives such as Aravind Eye Hospital’s use of machine learning for early detection of eye diseases have transformed access to quality eye care in rural areas. By automating diagnostics and streamlining patient care, they scale their impact and reach underserved communities more efficiently.


Realizing the full impact of AI in philanthropy is accompanied by numerous challenges that demand attention. These include navigating the ethical implications of AI, such as bias, privacy, and accountability, which risk exacerbating inequalities or unintended consequences. Additionally, high upfront costs and the need for technical expertise may limit smaller non-profits from harnessing AI’s potential effectively. Moreover, the lack of high-quality, relevant public data in India presents a barrier to creating localized AI solutions. 

An emerging AI divide between developers and underserved communities further complicates accessibility to AI benefits, unless democratized. Scaling AI initiatives across diverse geographies with varying languages, data norms, and infrastructure challenges also proves to be a daunting task. These uncertainties may lead philanthropists to hesitate in recognizing the significance of AI’s capabilities and investing in AI-driven initiatives.


To overcome systemic challenges and drive impactful philanthropy, India’s UHNIs have a pivotal role in catalysing AI for social good. Strategic opportunities include adopting a collaborative approach by fostering partnerships between AI experts, non-profits, and community stakeholders to tailor solutions to specific community needs. Investing in R&D efforts focused on AI for social good and supporting democratized access to AI tools can empower all non-profits to harness AI’s potential. Additionally, supporting capacity-building initiatives for non-profit leaders and scaling AI pilots across diverse regions and use cases are crucial steps. Investing in platforms that enable community participation in AI development and prioritizing accountability, transparency, and human rights in AI initiatives are also paramount for fostering inclusive AI innovation and responsible AI use in social arenas.

Philanthropists can lead by example by not only adopting AI in their philanthropic endeavours but also sharing their experiences and inspiring others to follow suit. 

The Wadhwani Institute for AI, a philanthropic initiative by Dr. Romesh Wadhwani and Sunil Wadhwani, is currently building AI-based solutions in the agriculture and health domains, such as pest management for cotton farms; maternal, newborn and child health; and tuberculosis.

In collaboration with Shikha Academy and the Shikha Institute of Education, Karishma Shanghvi has established Shikha Labs—an AI tech-focused initiative solving for systemic needs of schools, students, and teachers. Towards this Shikha Labs is developing an AI teacher pedagogy coach that analyses classroom teaching; curriculum-linked Al bots that partner with teachers to make high quality curriculum accessible for all students; and AI portfolio and skills assessment systems for schools. Founded by Dilip Shanghvi’s Shantilal Shanghvi Foundation, Shikha Academy and The Shikha Institute of Education aim to democratise education with an economical, scalable, accessible, and high standards system, which is relevant to creating lifelong learners, inquirers and problem solvers.

In conclusion, leveraging AI, philanthropists can unlock new insights, optimize resource allocation, and accelerate progress towards achieving a more equitable and sustainable future. Fostering a collaborative ecosystem that powers philanthropy with AI, philanthropists can create a future where strategic giving has a measurable, maximized impact on social development in India. 

Vishal Dutta is Head – Knowledge at Accelerate Indian Philanthropy