Getting Started with AI for Fundraising at Your Nonprofit

You might be excited about the possibilities of artificial intelligence (AI) for nonprofits. Or, with all of the hype around it, maybe you’re tired of hearing about it. No matter how you feel about it, it’s clear that AI has the potential to help nonprofit organizations do more, faster, and possibly even better.

But as with any new technology, for AI to be truly useful, there must be practical ways to apply it to daily work and clear ways to use it to help reach your organization’s goals.   

Fundraising can be a good place to start with AI. For example, fundraising processes are often complex, and some fundraising tasks are manual and time-consuming. AI can help you to streamline fundraising processes, ultimately making you a more efficient and effective fundraiser.

This article covers some basics about artificial intelligence to help you start thinking about practical ways to use AI in fundraising for your nonprofit.

What is artificial intelligence?

Artificial intelligence essentially refers to the ability of a machine to approximate intelligent human behavior. Within AI, there’s machine learning, which allows a tool or system to automatically “learn” and improve upon itself.

You might also be hearing the term “generative AI”. Generative AI refers to tools that do things like generate content, summarize text, answer questions, and write code. You’ve probably heard of (or even used) ChatGPT, which is an example of a generative AI tool. You might also have heard of “prompts” in relation to generative AI. A prompt refers to the question or input that you provide a tool like Chat GPT. The accuracy and quality of the responses you get from Chat GPT relies heavily on the prompts you give it.

In addition to generative AI, two AI capabilities that can be especially helpful for fundraising include:

  • Predictive modeling – Finding patterns in data to help predict future outcomes
  • Propensity modeling – Going to the next level to predict the likelihood that individuals will complete certain actions

Examples of using AI for fundraising

With these basics in mind, here are some examples of ways that your nonprofit could use AI for fundraising:

  • Draft a fundraising communication – You could use a tool like ChatGPT to generate an initial draft of fundraising letters or email solicitations, giving you a starting point and helping you to complete the communications faster.
  • Create a fundraising web page – You could use a generative AI tool to create a basic HTML page and see results in just seconds.
  • Identify prospective donors – You could use an AI-powered prospect identification tool to uncover which individuals in your database are potential major donors, identify smaller donors who are likely to renew or upgrade their giving, or to forecast donor contributions. This type of tool can process data faster and at a larger scale than a human can.
  • Improve communications – You could use AI tools to streamline and hone your marketing and fundraising communications by helping you determine things like who you should contact, how often to contact them, what are the most effective channels to use, and how much to ask for.

Where to begin with AI for fundraising

Here are some tips as you start to think about ways your nonprofit can use AI for fundraising:

  • Start small – There are many use cases of AI for fundraising, and more AI tools are becoming available. It can seem overwhelming. So, start by trying an AI tool to address one challenge or goal. Note what worked and what didn’t. Then, use those lessons learned to make your next AI project better.
  • Consider what you already have – Many software solutions are starting to add AI capabilities. Look into what AI tools and capabilities your current software offers. Then, consider experimenting with them before investing in another AI tool.
  • Establish AI guidance – It’s a good idea to start creating guidance for your staff around AI to make sure it’s used in a way that aligns with your organization’s privacy and security policies.
  • Prepare for human intervention – AI tools can help your organization be more productive, but you still need humans to confirm that the outputs of your AI tools are correct. Make sure your organization plans for staff time needed to verify AI results.

Learn more about AI for nonprofits

If you’d like to learn more about using AI for your nonprofit, contact us at Cathexis Partners. We’re ready to help.

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