Is AI the Future of Fundraising?

Artificial intelligence is a relatively new area of computer science. It’s focused on training computers to perform intellectual tasks that had been traditionally performed only by humans. While reputable experts try to figure out what the future of AI will look like, people are already using neural networks and machine learning because these technologies offer countless benefits for any industry.

Although robots are still incapable of conquering the world, artificial intelligence is smarter than ever and helps people with a variety of tasks. Netflix and Amazon use AI to suggest videos and products based on your history of activity. Email services use robots to filter spam. AI quickly is becoming a part of our everyday lives. Given the opportunities AI provides for personalisation, automation and building engagement with users, there’s no surprise that non-profit organisations are considering the use of AI solutions when it comes to their fundraising campaigns. Let’s take a closer look at how AI is shaping the future of fundraising.

Automation and organisation

The first and the main advantage of AI is the ability to automate cumbersome tasks. Any fundraiser has to deal with countless meetings, brainstorms and project sign-offs, which is why we need personal assistants. Personal assistants schedule meetings, set reminders and send out briefings, which are all tasks that can be easily performed by an assistant bot. Not only can this make your day-to-day workload easier, but it also helps you stay organised and keep track of where you are in your fundraising campaigns. AI can save you time, enabling you to focus on fundraising efforts instead of working on exhausting organisational issues. A great example of this is AI-based software like Zoom which can plan meetings for you, rescheduling them if necessary and notifying you about any updates.

Monitoring

Not only can robots monitor important events but they can also predict them. As neural networks analyse historical data, they find common patterns and predict the probability of a certain situation occurring in the future. The more historical data, the more accurate the predictions. This feature of AI is used by the Protection Assistant for Wildlife Security (PAWS), a machine learning and behaviour modelling program dedicated to stopping animal poaching. The software uses artificial intelligence to provide park rangers with important information on the poachers’ activity and to model the possible conflict situations. Thanks to this approach, park rangers can respond quickly. And in turn, charities that use this software can relay this information in their fundraising campaigns to assure potential donors that their money is being put to good use. The more funds come in, the more the organisation will be able to invest in technology such as this.

Personalisation

All commercial analysts know that customer experience has a strong impact on advocacy and loyalty. According to professor of Fundraising, Robert F. Hartsook, a 10% improvement in attrition can increase the projected upgrade value by as much as 200%. About 30% of commercial companies have already appreciated the benefits of AI for marketing, creating personalised promotions and increasing purchasing rates. Non-profit organisations shouldn’t lag behind. AI solutions allow you to send personalised invitations and newsletters, keeping people more engaged by staying in touch with them. You can quickly react to your donors’ actions and plan your response. Take for example the start-up Gravyty. It analyses the data on donations and predicts who will make the next big contribution. Based on this information, users receive customised emails that inspire them to donate.

Helping donors make educated decisions

It’s impossible to imagine fundraising without effective branding and marketing strategies. Donors should clearly understand what your organisation is, what it stands for and how exactly they can help by donating their money. Answering all the necessary questions requires a lot of work, and AI makes this task much easier. The free AI-based app called BRiN is a bot that can quickly answer any questions and provide relevant information about your organisation and the area you’re working in. This means that people will be able to make educated choices before donating to your cause.

And there’s more you can be doing to educate your audience. Social media platforms like Facebook allow for chatbot functions that provide supporters with more information about their cause. A recent example of this is WaterAid’s bot platform that connected users with Sellu, a farmer and fisherman in a remote village in Sierra Leone. Once they subscribed, users were taken on a journey through the village life, which was part of the charity’s winter fundraising appeal. This feature answered common questions donors had about where their money would be going and made them feel more comfortable about giving to the cause.

So what does this mean for fundraisers?

Many non-profit organisations have already appreciated the benefits of artificial intelligence, and big corporations see non-profits as an opportunity to discover the new ways of the application of AI. You’re already seeing this across the sector, with eBay and Salesforce partnering with UNICEF and Human Rights Watch to improve models of emergency response. And even Facebook is working with the British Red Cross to inform disaster relief teams about the latest events in a certain area.

‘The market for AI tools is constantly growing because businesses are realising what opportunities AI has to offer. These tools can save operating costs, boost engagement and provide a customised experience. When speaking of fundraising and charities, we often see the same problems and the same requests as in business. Many experts agree that the wide application of AI in this area is just a question of time.’

– Ellie Matthews, Technical Writer at Masterra

The digital landscape is changing, which means the way we fundraise is changing. Chatbots and automation are becoming the norm, and you don’t want to get left behind while the sector makes the switch towards a more digitally-savvy strategy. If you want to make your fundraising program more effective, you certainly need to think of AI as of the necessary technology that will help your organisation make a step towards the future.

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About the author

Berta Melder

Berta Melder is an experienced brand manager, creative writer and enthusiastic blogger. Currently associated with Masterraas a content marketing strategist. Specialising in brand management, she cooperates with different education courses covering a broad range of digital topics as a guest lecturer. Follow her on Twitter.