Artificial Intelligence Tools Your Nonprofit Must Explore—Now
Aside from the work it does, an essential possession of a nonprofit is its donor database, which is the financial pipeline it requires to complete its mission. Recently, Adam Treiser, founder and CEO of Arjuna Solutions, and professor of decision sciences & analytics at Johns Hopkins University, made a presentation at the Association of Philanthropic Counsel. He noted that we’ve moved from donor experience-driven fundraising to fundraising with the power of artificial intelligence (AI).
Because of the massive ability of machine learning power, we have entered into an era that is going to revolutionize fundraising and the philanthropic sector. What AI is bringing to the industry concerning acquisition and retention are three key things, as described in the presentation provided by Treiser.
- Dynamism: AI provides fundraisers with the ability to recognize and respond to specific situations.
- Specificity: AI provides fundraisers with the ability to customize fundraising down to the individual, and not just a segment or population.
- Efficiency: AI allows for fundraisers to ask for support, in requests specifically targeted to each donor, at scale.
When you consider the power and ability of AI within the nonprofit sector, there is no doubt whatsoever that it will be changing the industry fundamentally. It's already started. When you can target new donors, steward and make new asks of current donors, and create messaging that is specific and timed to each donor when they are most primed to accept a call-to-action, this is a significant game-changer.
Artificial Intelligence Changing the Fundraising Landscape
Nonprofits, even the small ones with limited resources, can use AI to analyze their data and help fundraisers achieve greater fundraising success. AI can spot trends, giving patterns and make specific asks targeted to individual donors that, until the modern era, was done by segmentation and couldn't go as deep or broad as with AI. Additionally, it changes the skillsets for fundraisers who have to develop new skills in technology and data, aside from their relationship-building skills, especially at the major gift level. Major gift fundraisers, for instance, now have much more robust moves management systems with AI that take them from having to spend a lot of time trying to analyze data, to now obtaining AI reporting that is highly specific to the donor and shows the fundraiser what they should do and when.
With the massive abilities of AI, there are several tools on the market that fundraisers can look toward to help them take fundraising to a level that has never existed before the digital age.
1. Gravyty: In 2017, The Chronicle of Philanthropy called the company the “new fundraising idea that worked.” The tool provided Cure Alzheimer's Fund with an increase of 49 percent in revenue and a 5 percent increase in donor retention. The platform can be integrated with CRMs, such as Salesforce or Blackbaud, and one of its key features is its AI ability to create emails targeted to individual donors based on their specific giving patterns. This allows fundraisers to ask at the right point and with the messaging that resonates to each donor.
2. boodleAI: The platform provides fundraising teams with AI assistants, which help them engage much more strategically with their supporters. Aside from giving fundraisers AI assistants, it also provides board and event committees with AI assistants to make planning and meetings much more efficient and productive for efforts toward donor engagement. Additionally, there are a few other features which will be coming soon, including AI that will help nonprofit teams recruit top volunteer fundraisers—and also for data deduping and cleaning.
3. Intelligence for Good: Blackbaud, with its massive footprint in the nonprofit sector, is also working with AI with the "world's largest philanthropic dataset." One of the critical features for the Intelligence for Good platform is that it can do prospect modeling with the power of AI. The company has positioned itself as a leader in AI for nonprofits with its AI self-learning tools to help fundraisers with both predictive and prescriptive intelligence and information for raising money from their prospects and supporters.
4. Cloud for Good: The rival competitor to Blackbaud is, of course, Salesforce. Their platform allows charities to take an in-depth 360-degree view of their donors database and then follow up with personal journeys for each of their donors. The company has reported that their product has helped nonprofits which are using them to increase the retention of donors by 24 percent. Its constituent engagement has grown with their clients by 36 percent. Finally, 89 percent of its customers have reported that the tool has helped them achieve their nonprofit missions.
The future is now. It no longer takes generations, decades or even a couple of years for things to change. Technology, including AI, is being created and developed at unprecedented rates. With the power of machine self-learning, we can only expect nonprofits that will succeed are those that fully embrace technology. They will have the opportunity to target prospects and ask for support from their donors with such specificity that they will only grow to scale. Supporters will come to expect, as in everything else in modern society, a fully-customized donor path that is specific only to them and no one else.
Wayne Elsey is the founder and CEO of Elsey Enterprises. Among his various
independent brands, he is also the founder and CEO of Funds2Orgs, a social enterprise that helps nonprofits, schools, churches, civic groups, individuals and others raise funds, while helping to support micro-enterprise (small business) opportunities in developing nations and the environment. You can learn more about Wayne and obtain free resources, including his books on his blog, Not Your Father’s Charity.