An accountant at your finger-tips: A Step-by-Step Guide to GPT-4 for NGO and Charity Budgeting

An accountant at your finger-tips: A Step-by-Step Guide to GPT-4 for NGO and Charity Budgeting

Budgeting is a critical aspect of any NGO's or charity's financial planning, and the advent of AI technology has revolutionised how we can approach it. One such technology is GPT-4, a generative AI developed by OpenAI. This powerful tool has opened the door to a new, conversational approach to budgeting. This blog post will guide you through the process of using GPT-4 for your charity's budgeting needs.

Getting started

Before you get started with GPT-4, it's important to have a good understanding of budgeting, specifically within the context of NGOs and charities. You should be familiar with the standard budget templates used by your organisation or those of your donors, such as foundations, the European Union, UN organisations or INGOs such as Save the Children. These templates usually include categories like unit cost, description, a set overhead amount, and so on.

Download Google Chrome's Text-to-Speech Plugin

You can speed up the process even more by using Google Chrome's text-to-speech plugin. Note: you have to use the Google Chrome server. Once you've downloaded the plugin, you can give the prompt to GPT-4 to act as your "NGO finance accountant". This specific type of prompt initiates a conversation with your AI charity accountant about building the budget. It's a great way to make the process interactive and engaging.

The Process

With GPT-4, you can interact in your native language. If you are an Arabic speaker, for example, you can input your budget data in Arabic, and GPT-4 will translate it into English. This is a significant advantage considering the majority of aid is delivered by English speaking Western donors.

Here's how you to get ready:

  1. Prepare your item list: Before starting with GPT-4, compile a list of all the costs you'll include in your NGO's or charity's budget. This could be accountancy, programme manager, monitoring and evaluation costs, overheads (typically around 7%), training costs, and other HR costs.
  2. Converse with GPT-4: Once you have your item list, start a conversation with GPT-4 using the prompt noted above i.e. “can you play the role of my charity accountant.” Tell your ‘accountant’ about the items in your budget, their unit costs, and any other information that should be included in your NGO's or charity's budget. Remember to specify that you want this information organised in a table format.
  3. Iterative Editing: Don't worry if you forget to include certain details in your initial conversation with GPT-4. You can always go back and add or adjust information. For example, if you realize you've forgotten to include the time period for your budget, simply tell GPT-4 to add it. The AI will also prompt you if it needs more information to complete your budget, leading to a collaborative and iterative process of budget creation.

Here's an example of how the conversation might go:

You: "GPT-4, I need to create a budget table for my NGO. The columns should be 'Item', 'Description', 'Unit Cost', and 'Name of Donor'." GPT-4: "Understood, let's start filling in the table. What are the items?" You: "The items are 'Finance Manager', 'Program Assistant', 'Monitoring and Evaluation', and 'Overheads'. The unit cost for each item is [provide cost here]." GPT-4: "Great! Now let's fill in the rest of the table."

Time saver

AI doesn’t take a coffee break, but you can. It means you don’t have to set up meetings and can work at whatever speed and when you want, there is no waiting for a response so iterations can be done instantaneously.  You still need a human with expert knowledge to ensure that the budget meets the requirements of your project needs and donor requirements. AI at this time can only respond based on the prompts you give, so humans need to input creativity and critical thinking.


Remember, the key to successful budgeting with GPT-4 is preparation: know your budget items and their costs and be ready to guide the AI through the process.

Are you ready to take your NGO's or charity's budgeting process to the next level with GPT-4? Share your experiences with us in the comments below!

This blog post was written by Ummul Choudhury, co-founder, RealtimeAid (RAid), an NGO with a mission to localise aid. Ready to embark on your AI journey? Visit today and discover how FAID can support your NGO in harnessing the power of AI.