Using AI for fundraising

A Guide to Artificial Intelligence for Fundraisers

While we may not necessarily know or see it in action, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is at the heart of our everyday lives. 

Every time we choose a television show to watch based on a Netflix recommendation, ask Alexa what the weather will be like today, or utilize Google’s predictive typing to finish a sentence, AI is the driving force at work behind the scenes. It is in the underlying process enabling the world’s largest companies to guide your day-to-day decision-making.

What is AI?

AI is defined as the ability of a computer to perform tasks that would typically require human intelligence and cognition. It is the process of using a computer to automate tasks previously done by humans. It comprises of algorithms and models and requires data, infrastructure, and computer power to operate.

While AI is the broad term to describe computer algorithms automating various functions and tasks, the underlying process here is Machine Learning. 

Machine Learning is the process that allows machines to analyze data and learn from it to self-improve in order to identify patterns in data and predict outcomes. Through machine learning, computers can find trends that would have otherwise gone unnoticed and get smarter with every interaction. 

Traffic predictions while commuting, or ‘People You May Know’ features within social media apps, are prime examples of machine learning at work, as algorithms learn from data available to them to refine and improve users’ experience.

AI and machine learning are not new phenomena. These processes have long been adopted across the world’s leading companies, harnessing these next-generation technologies to automate and optimize their operations. This allows them to personalize the user experience and create stronger relationships with their customers. However, this technology—at least the same quality of this technology—has not readily been available to the nonprofit sector. 

Worries about the cost and complexity of adoption for nonprofits, held back by a reluctance to overhaul current systems and re-train staff, have resulted in AI still not being widely used across charitable organizations. 

Another driving force behind this is the preconceived notion of AI, or automated robots, replacing a need for staff, where machines take control of fundraising, negating the need for nonprofits’ employees.

Fundraisers must learn to shift their views in order to understand the capabilities of AI working in unison with people and transform nonprofit operations. While AI can automate and optimize a large portion of a fundraiser’s administrative work, it will never perform the most critical tasks involved in fundraising: connecting with constituents and fostering strong relationships within communities. 

Instead, it can empower this work, by analyzing data to show fundraisers exactly where to focus their efforts, which donors are most engaged with their mission and the best ways to build these relationships.

4 Key Benefits of AI for Fundraisers

There are several key ways nonprofits and fundraisers can benefit from adopting AI systems. These benefits show how integrating artificial intelligence into their everyday work can supercharge their fundraising.

  1. Automate Time Consuming Tasks
  2. Prioritize Day-To-Day Fundraising Efforts
  3. Optimize Donor Engagement
  4. Personalize Communications At Scale

1. Automate Time Consuming Tasks

Through AI and Machine Learning, systems can be trained to automate everyday tasks that normally take a fundraiser hours or days to complete. Through this automation, where machine learning systems extract patterns within data to define repetitive tasks and automate them, these tasks can be completed in a matter of seconds or minutes. 

Tasks that gift officers and fundraisers usually spend hours a week completing, such as analyzing and updating vast amounts of donor data within a CRM, running reports on a database, and conducting background research on prospective donors, can be entirely automated within a system.

Incorporating AI tools to complete these tasks saves time for fundraisers and vastly reduces human error associated with repetitive work. In addition, tasks such as data collection, especially within nonprofits with limited resources, can be streamlined and greatly improved by standardizing formats in which data is collected and articulated.

Job satisfaction among the nonprofit workforce can also be boosted by removing mundane tasks from the plate of staff members within an organization. In this regard, embracing AI into your current workflow can be seen as adding a smart assistant to your team without the added salary costs!

2. Prioritize Day-To-Day Fundraising Efforts

While AI can take mundane, repetitive tasks off the plate of fundraisers, it also enables them to efficiently prioritize their fundraising, make more informed decisions and identify opportunities. 

Machine Learning systems analyze vast amounts of data to uncover patterns and trends that would be impossible for the human eye to intercept. These findings are presented to fundraisers, empowering their decision-making process and showing them what needs to happen for them to reach their goals.

Through AI, organizations have the opportunity to understand their data better and accurately outline next steps, while fundraisers can spend more time speaking with the right people, raising more money, and creating a greater impact for their mission.

3. Optimize Donor Engagement

One of the key benefits that AI brings to fundraising is that it can not only analyze what has happened within your organization at lightning speeds, but it can also show you what is going to happen, based on this information, in order to optimize the conversations you have with your donors.

Smart algorithms constantly work behind the scenes to study every interaction that is happening within your organization. By pairing this with both historical data and outside data sources, it can give fundraisers accurate predictions and insights on donor engagement and campaign optimization.

Powerful AI tools, like KIT’s predictive analytics, show fundraisers which donors are most engaged. It can tell you the exact amount to ask for in a donation to a specific constituent. 

AI is also deployed by wealth screening tools, such as Windfall and iWave, to show fundraisers which prospects have the highest propensity to give to their campaigns. These tools allow fundraisers to convert more one-time donors to recurring donors, reducing donor churn, and create stronger relationships by reaching out at the right time instead of running the risk of alienating donors with unrealistic expectations and requests.

4. Personalize Communications At Scale

While it is essential to reach out to the right donors at the time, the way you make an ask is also very important. 

AI tools can analyze data and suggest how fundraisers should personalize appeals to each of their donors and automate the process of reaching out to them. Manually, this process would be impossible for organizations to undertake. Reaching each donor with an individual message would take up the entirety of fundraisers’ days, but this process can be automated with AI. 

Personalization can lead to increased engagement with donors and a higher level of satisfaction among constituents, who feel a stronger connection with the organization. 

Cure Alzheimer’s Fund raised $1.2 million in donations using Gravyty’s AI-powered fundraising software, which drafts emails to existing donors based on their preferences and existing actions and highlights donors who are close to lapsing.

Another example of how AI can personalize communication at scale for nonprofits is the adoption of AI chatbots, which serve as an interface between donors and the organization to answer questions and queries. 

The Children’s Society of the United Kingdom set up an AI-powered chatbot on their Facebook page, which engaged their supporters, allowed them to see whether supporters would be interested in upcoming fundraising events, and gave up to 50 preprogrammed questions that could be asked, and answered. This enhanced donor engagement and helped build stronger relationships with donors.

This can also be the case for internal communications and breaking down silos within nonprofit organizations through AI – especially larger organizations working across departments and even countries. 

A great example of this is how Oxfam used AI to build internal bots and automation tools in order to search through traditional internal communication methods, which required people to search through thousands of files on internal drives, to create knowledge bases of ideas shared throughout the organization to improve their work and fundraising initiatives.

7 AI-Powered Tools for Nonprofit Fundraisers

Predictive Analytics

1. KIT for Fundraisers

Using KIT’s AI-powered fundraising insights, fundraisers can raise more money with less effort by harnessing the power of machine learning. 

KIT analyzes every single data point in your system and aggregates it with wealth screening insights from leading providers to strengthen your data and enable you to identify and cultivate opportunities within it.

KIT’s AI-powered tools automate best practices and provide you with accurate predictions and actionable insights on your donors and their giving behavior. Your entire decision-making process is optimized with predictive analytics that gets smarter over time.

2. Dataro

Dataro uses machine learning technology to generate predictions about how donors are likely to behave to deliver campaign recommendations. This AI-powered donor scoring software enables nonprofits to reach the right donors at the right time and provides individual propensity scoring.

Wealth Intelligence Insights

3. Windfall

This tool uses AI to discover the precise net worth of constituents using deterministic inputs and proprietary algorithms. In addition, Windfall provides wealth screening information, including net worth and personal and household attributes, as well as a donor’s propensity to give.

4. iWave

iWave is a donor research solution providing wealth, philanthropic and biographic information on prospective donors, offering wealth screening, prospecting, and data analytics.

5. WealthEngine

WealthEngine applies machine learning to half a trillion data points, creating pre-scored profiles with over 5 million refreshes weekly. It gives detailed insights into a donor’s propensity, capacity, and intent to engage with an organization while automatically segmenting contacts with information on their net worth and giving capacity.

Donor Communications

6. Gravyty

Gravyty leverages AI to write email drafts for organizations to send to donors who are most likely to engage. This tool generates emails to thank and cultivate donors. It also suggests ideal messaging that fundraisers should use based on previous interactions with donors. 

7. Persado

Persado is a content generation tool that analyzes campaigns and applies AI to learn from individual response data. From this data, content is created that is personalized to each reader.

By using these tools, you can empower your fundraising team to be more efficient and productive. KIT for Fundraisers, particularly, is designed to equip fundraisers with the information, insights, and analytics they need to make sense of their donor data and raise more money. 

You can learn more about KIT’s use of AI & machine learning, as well as how its tools can optimize your fundraising process, at https://fundraisingkit.com/features.

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