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05 March 2018

5 Nonprofits using Amazon Alexa effectively

5 nonprofits using Alexa to build their brand or achieve mission

Amazon Alexa and other voice-controlled speakers are revolutionizing our world. But what advantages do they offer to nonprofits?

In this article we feature five nonprofits using Amazon in interesting and effective ways that either help the organization meet its mission or build brand awareness:

 

Audobon society logo

National Audubon Society has developed a popular Alexa skill that plays bird songs. Users can say, “Alexa, ask Audubon to play a bald eagle,” or, “Alexa, what does an American goldfinch sound like?”

By using Alexa this way, Audubon is solidifying its position in American homes as the leading expert on birds. They are also educating more people about birds and potentially recruiting new supporters.

 

National Resource Defense Council logo

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is using Alexa to reduce food waste in America by educating eaters about whether their food is still safe to eat. “Alexa, ask Save the Food if my avocados are still good to eat,” and Alexa will help.

With 50 percent of U.S. produce sent to landfills, constituting one-third of the waste in our landfills, food waste is a big environmental problem. It wastes resources and increases greenhouse gases. NRDC is trying to address it, and Alexa is aimed at helping consumers make more informed choices every day .

There is room for this skill to grow, though; since much of that wasted food never even makes it to supermarket shelves because it is blemished, Alexa also offers NRDC an opportunity to educate Americans that blemished produce is still tasty.

 

American Heart Association logo

The American Heart Association’s Alexa skill answers questions like, “How do I perform CPR,” or “What are the warning signs for a stroke?” And soon, according to Amazon’s Alexa developers forum, AHA will be able to accept donations through Alexa and Amazon Pay.

 

National Geographic logo

National Geographic Society has a quiz game on Alexa that aims to educate Americans about geography and science, but also builds the society’s brand as a leading nonprofit answering the world’s most pressing scientific questions.

 

Unicef logo

UNICEF publicized its Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF program with an Alexa skill that plays spooky sounds and tells listeners a new fact about Halloween every day from October 15 to 31. This app is aimed at encouraging kids to collect coins for UNICEF on Halloween as well as candy. An article from Mashable explains it further.

 

More uses for nonprofits

Are you a nonprofit that needs to access donor data rapidly? Click and Pledge has developed an Alexa skill to help with that. Perhaps more donation management software companies will follow.

Does your nonprofit do lots of events? You can, like Douglas County, Colo., develop your own Alexa skills for events. Or, you can tap into Alexa skills that aggregate events, such as Burbio.

Do you work for an advocacy organization, driving people to contact their elected officials about issues of importance? Check out Phone2Action, which is a new way to connect Americans to their elected officials without even having to press a button.

 

And finally, if you’re wondering whether Alexa can help your organization be more inclusive, it can! When one tester said to an Echo Dot, “That’s so retarded,” Alexa responded immediately with, “Excuse me, but calling something ‘retarded’ excludes and insults people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.” Alexa is also trained to identify racist and sexist language, although not everyone is satisfied with the results yet.

 

The ability to donate simply and quickly to organizations you care about through Alexa or other voice-controlled speakers such as Google Home and Apple HomePod is coming soon, as well.

Whatever your communications and fundraising needs, all nonprofits should at least be asking the question of whether voice-controlled speakers can help them reach their audiences and their goals. It is one more potential tool in your toolbox.

 

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Natalie B.

Headshot of Natalie Bennon

Natalie Bennon is a nonprofit communications and marketing consultant for AmDee LLC and other clients nationwide.