5 Ways Nonprofits Can Use AI for Better Fundraising
Love it, hate it or just don’t know much about it — artificial intelligence (AI) is here for good with the widespread adoption of ChatGPT. And this is good news for nonprofits.
Because while most people are still playing around with AI (to be honest, it is fun to see what ChatGPT can come up with), there’s a huge opportunity here for the entire industry to elevate its effectiveness –– and for you to upgrade your fundraising virtually overnight.
At its core, AI is a force multiplier.
It lets smaller or less-resourced organizations access the same kind of reach and assets previously only available to organizations who could pay for an in-house data science team. While this technology has been around since the 1950s, it’s only now become widely accessible, letting essentially any organization access meaningful insights about large datasets, particularly when it comes to things like behavior (“What is someone likely to do?”) and affinity (“How is someone likely to feel?”)
Long story short? AI lets you punch way above your weight class when it comes to fundraising, so here are five ways AI can elevate your fundraising.
1. AI Can Improve Your Prospecting
AI makes the entire prospecting process easier by helping you find the right people to contact, so you no longer have to reach out to a whole bunch of people and hope that enough of them are a match for you to hit your goals.
Instead, affinity-driving AI models can quickly identify the people who already genuinely care about your cause, and have the resources and desire to give. Lots of nonprofits find that they actually end up discovering hidden audiences they would have never thought to reach out to before.
Plus, affinity-driven AI can help you know exactly how to reach out to these people. You can use it to discover their specific giving capacity, their ideal ask amount and even how they prefer to be contacted.
2. AI Can Steward Donors Up the Giving Table
Turning inwards, you can apply this same level of understanding and connection that AI gives you regarding prospects to your donors. Think about how much easier it would be if you were able to know what behaviors people undertake right before they’re ready to move up a tier in your giving table and how you need to talk to them to help them make that move?
Knowing things like your donors’ degree of affinity with your cause and how they like to be contacted can make your stewardship so much simpler, and also more personal. AI can help you figure out how often to contact them, what they want to hear about and how they need to hear it.
3. AI Can Find and Steward Major Gifts Donors
Similarly, you can use AI to find new major gift donors. With AI, it’s easy to screen for wealth markers and giving capacity, as well as markers specifically for philanthropy. And of course, you can also use AI to figure out how and when to approach these people, and the messaging that’s going to be most resonant with them. This is especially valuable in the traditionally high-touch area of major gifts where it allows you to scale your stewardship like never before.
You’re no longer limited by your development director’s or board members’ personal knowledge and interactions with major gifts. Now, you can have deeply nuanced insights into who these people are and what they need from you even if you’ve never met them. This lets you save your development directors and board members’ capacity for the things that truly require their human touch — since you can have AI do the heavy lifting.
4. AI Can Help You Make Smarter Outreach Decisions
One of the biggest challenges with nonprofit outreach is uncertainty: You never really know how a campaign is going to play out, and it’s easy to get six months into a mail-out before you realize it’s not actually working.
AI can help remove that uncertainty and give you insights into what your prospects and donors actually need in an outreach campaign, so you can then make decisions about your campaigns based on facts instead of guesses.
This can save you a ton of money (for instance, let’s say you’ve been sending out pricey mailers when your people actually prefer much cheaper digital campaigns) and can make your outreach that much more effective since you’re meeting people where they are.
5. AI Can Help You Customize Events for Maximum Giving
Events remain one of the most successful ways to fundraise, but like campaigns, they come with a lot of uncertainty. What’s more, they tend to be extremely labor-intensive, and you can quickly find yourself in a position where you end up using any money you raised simply to pay for the event costs.
AI can give you a clear picture of who among your contacts is likely to attend any event (not just yours), and what kinds of events they’re most interested in. After all, there’s nothing worse than getting a bunch of people together for a seated dinner, only to realize they prefer a fun run! You can use AI to help craft your invites, screen invitees for proximity so you only send out invitations to people who live close enough to attend and even figure out custom auction items that your attendees will love.
This really is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to all the ways you can use AI to make your fundraising so much easier and more effective. And the best part? The barrier to entry is incredibly low. There’s lots of free or very cost-effective options for starting to incorporate AI into your nonprofit, and you can see results very quickly. It’s certainly worth checking out — and there are lots of easy on-ramps for doing so.
The preceding blog was provided by an individual unaffiliated with NonProfit PRO. The views expressed within do not directly reflect the thoughts or opinions of NonProfit PRO.