Navigating Copilot for Nonprofits

Learn three ways to get the best use out of Microsoft's AI technology, Copilot.

In this article: We discuss what we know about Copilot so far. Join us on this journey as we aim to find out if Copilot is worth it for nonprofits

In this Article:

  1. What is Copilot?
  2. What you put in matters
  3. Be persistent
  4. Be creative in how you use Copilot
  5. What we are looking forward to with Copilot

What is Copilot?

As with any new Microsoft technology, Copilot is something that we are currently learning and trying. If you know Microsoft, you will know that there is always something new to learn, where it’s an update, change, or the introduction of new products. So, there’s always something new to explore. 

You’ve probably heard of Copilot – it's currently generating a lot of buzz right now, especially in discussions about the trends in nonprofit technology. People are saying it’s the next big productivity tool, anticipated to save a lot of time and enhance success in digital marketing, fundraising, and day-to-day operations for nonprofits. There’s also excitement about Copilot's potential to reduce resource usage and costs. 

However, amidst the positive chatter, ethical concerns about the use of generative AI and Copilot in the workspace have emerged. People are questioning its proper application, and if it should be used, and how. Questions have also appeared about Copilots potential limitations, as AI cannot fully replicate human creativity, empathy, and decision making.  

Where AI shines, is in assisting human thought and creativity. That alone means it’s worth a chance to learn and try it. AI isn’t meant to take over human behaviours and tasks, but rather assist, hence the name – Copilot (and not autopilot).  

People are starting to use generative AI like Copilot and ChatGPT over traditional search engines such as Google. The quickness and specificness of responses on the chat AI models have become a very popular feature.  

But Copilot does more than just chat and provide answers and write and edit paragraphs. It has a whole suite of uses and functions that integrate with the whole of the Microsoft universe.  

But is it really worth it? Is investing in Copilot going to be beneficial and offer a return on investment for your nonprofit? 

If you have a lot of data that you’re currently referencing manually, Copilot will speed up those tasks considerably, but honestly, here at XP, we are still in the learning phase. We always test and use the products and systems that we recommend to nonprofit organisations, to ensure that we’re providing the best solution for you. Our goal is to make sure we thoroughly understand and know how to use the tools we endorse.  

Here’s what we know about Copilot so far:  

1. The question you put into Copilot really matters!  

To get the most out of Copilot, you need to give it context, and a bit of a background story. We’ve found that the more information you give, the better the response you will get. Here's what Jared Spataro (Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President of Modern Work & Business Applications) says: “It turns out, what you put in really matters. AI isn’t concerned about spelling or grammar, but rather relevant details, background information, and defined parameters”. 

Microsoft recommends that you spend more time with your prompt and give Copilot more of a description. For example, if you want Copilot to help with your annual report, tell Copilot why, including the tone you want, give organisational information, and how you want the board and donors to feel when they read it.  

With more detail, Copilot will give more back to you, and generate a response that is closer to your needs.  


Here are the four key building blocks of a good Copilot prompt:  

  1. Start with the end in mind. What do you want to achieve? 
  2. Set the stage. Give context and relevant information 
  3. Define any parameters. Specify any information sources Copilot should use 
  4. Tailor the delivery. Specify how you want Copilot to deliver the response 


Here’s an Example: 

2. Be persistent.  

If at first you don’t succeed, try again! People can give up on AI after a single try. This doesn’t yield a good enough response. The trick is to understand that AI isn’t a one-way street – but rather a dynamic and interactive process of you and Copilot trying to co-create something. Your first prompt is just the beginning, and sometimes AI needs more prompting or extra input. The collaboration is going back and forth, giving more information, asking questions, and having a conversation about what you need. It is also important to give it feedback when it produces good or bad outputs – like,  

“This sentence is too wordy, can you simplify it? Thank you, that’s better. Can you please add a sentence that sums up these points?” 

Say you are preparing a speech for a fundraising event. First, you might type, “Generate five bullet points for a speech to prepare me for a 20-minute keynote presentation where I need to get a room full of potential donors to buy into our cause. Focus on Teams chat and files since February, and please make the tone energising and engaging.” 

Once you have an initial draft from Copilot you can give it feedback and follow up with additional prompts: “Add a hook to my introduction.” Or “Thank you, can you add more about our values and vision.” Keep going until you’re happy with the response, don’t give up. You can also ask Copilot for multiple options: “Give me five ideas for a closing paragraph; rewrite the introduction in three different styles; give me three analogies or examples of anecdotes I could use that might relate to this audience.”  

“All work is iterative,” says Colette Stallbaumer, General Manager of Microsoft 365 and Future of Work. “Whether it’s on your own or with other people, it involves multiple cycles of refinement and improvement. It’s the same when you’re working alongside AI.” 

Once you have this structure and main points together, make sure you spend time with the content, reworking it as necessary so that it sounds like you. At the moment, AI content has a particular “feel” to it which can be picked up – especially by people who are more familiar with AI-generated content. 

Be creative in how you use Copilot on the day-to-day 

We’ve found that Copilot has so many different uses and functions that it may sometimes be overwhelming to how you use it. Here are some examples of how you could use Copilot to help you in your day-to-day workflows and processes.  

SEO keywords:  

You can use Copilot to organise and optimize Google keywords. “Can you please analyse these keywords, and then give me 100 extra keyword ideas for SEO optimisation. Organise them alphabetically, please.” 

Email replies 

You can use Copilot to sense-check your emails before you send them. “Please can you read through this email? I am sending it to person X who works at company X. Can you check if there are any red flags in the email, and suggest three ways to address these red flags? Please give it a light and kind tone” 

Prepare for meetings: 

“Can you use the meeting notes from these past three recurring meetings and write me an agenda for this week's meeting? Please write five bullet points on important points to bring to the group about the project.” 

Because Copilot integrates well with the whole Microsoft suite, you can probably start to imagine the time saving that could take place on different tasks.  

What we are looking forward to with Copilot:  

Copilot can function as an invaluable resource within your staff, similar to having someone who owns answers to virtually everything. Importantly, this information doesn’t walk out the door - even when employees leave or retire. 

Imagine Copilot understanding the solutions you're developing and integrating into your solutions catalogue. Whether searching through your solutions catalogue or managing CRM tasks, Copilot will be able to streamline processes effectively, and find information and answers quickly.  

Moreover, Copilot seamlessly integrates into the Excel, Word, and PowerPoint stack, enhancing productivity across various Microsoft applications. 

What’s Next?  

Watch this space! We are continuously learning new functions and uses for Copilot, along with tips and tricks, and staying up to date with Copilot for nonprofits. We will continue to document our journey, and be transparent in what we learn, the pros, the cons, and whether or not we think it is really worth it. Our aim is to understand Copilot thoroughly so that we are prepared for you if and when you decide to implement it into your nonprofit organisation. 

Stay tuned for what we learn next! 

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