By: Kayla Matthews
Artificial intelligence (AI) is no longer technology that’s only feasible in the future. It’s here now — and it’s being used with impressive results.
As a nonprofit organization, you can use AI apps and tools to streamline important fundraising efforts and spend more time obtaining the money you need to effectively run operations and less time handling logistics.
AI can automate repetitive tasks, reduce the possibility you’ll make mistakes and speed up the ways you collect information. Keep reading to learn five ways to use AI to enhance your fundraising activities, along with apps that help you optimize the results.
Experiment With Marketing Automation
Without a well-built marketing campaign, it’ll be hard for your fundraising plan to gain momentum. Rallybound is a robust marketing automation tool that helps ensure your donor communications are seamless and timely. Create numerous triggers to engage with donors automatically -- for example, you can set it up so that when someone makes a donation, that person will automatically receive a thank you email, push notification, and/or digital badge.
Rallybound's fundraising platform is specifically geared toward nonprofits. The app reduces repetition, so you can devote time and attention on other things. The lowest-priced access plan is $1,500 per year. There is also a 4.5 percent transaction fee.
Use a Chatbot to Collect Donations
Though they sound futuristic, “chatbots” are really just messaging tools for a service that requires access to specific kinds of information.
For example, a real estate chatbot would provide prospective homeowners with property listing information, via a chat interface. Rather than looking all that information up online, home buyers can simply message back and forth with the chatbot, asking questions like, “What kind of heating does this property have?” or “What is the square footage?”
Chatbots are becoming increasingly popular in the customer service realm because they can handle first-line support and direct queries to human personnel as needed. You might also consider utilizing a chatbot to receive money from donors. Last year, a decade after its founding, Charity: Water became the first nonprofit to accept donations through a Facebook Messenger chatbot.
Designing and implementing an effective requires a greater investment in time and money than the other AI fundraising tactics listed here, especially if you recruit a third-party company to build the bot. However, once your chatbot is up and running, the payoff in workload reduction -- and donations, hopefully -- can be significant.
Enjoy Help From a Virtual Meeting Manager
As you can see from the previous examples, AI's ability to automate routine tasks has the potential to save you time, money, and energy. From an operations perspective, this means that AI can help make internal communications smoother and more efficient.
For example: your fundraising team probably meets a lot. If you don't have a personal assistant, you're spending time scheduling and rescheduling meetings, sending out briefings, and setting reminders. Zoom.ai offers an automated assistant that will take care of all of these tasks for you. You send a message to your assistant bot (through Slack, SMS, or whatever your preferred means of communication is) telling it to schedule, postpone, or cancel a meeting; the bot then goes through your calendar and makes the plans. It can also automatically send meeting briefings, arrange introductions, and even book travel.
Zoom offers a completely free Standard Plan. The free plan still gives you access to unlimited meeting scheduling and morning briefings, plus the ability to choose a name for your smart assistant.
Of course, personal smart assistants like Siri, Cortana and Alexa could be used for smart scheduling to some extent, but these tools haven’t been specifically developed for this purpose. They do, however, allow for basic scheduling functions from your smartphone.
Tap Into the Power of the Crowd
Your organization employs some talented people, but perhaps you’d like to outsource a few tasks to ensure your fundraising bases are sufficiently covered. In that case, an app called BrightCrowd may help you meet that goal.
Start by asking for help, whether you want assistance with introductions to potential donors or help writing press releases about planned fundraising events. The BrightCrowd app interprets your request and searches through your network to find people who can help. You don’t have to pay anything to sign up, and there are already over 100,000 people using it. You’ll almost certainly find people who have the skills you need to raise money confidently.
Rely on AI to Make Educated Choices
Successful fundraising requires an understanding of key marketing and branding principles. BRiN is a free app that makes it easy to equip yourself with relevant expertise quickly. Just chat with this AI bot to get advice about your business-related questions or, when you have more time, watch the hundreds of videos the app provides to stay on top of the latest business advice.
Although this app is designed for business executives, you’ll be able to apply much of what you learn to fundraising campaigns -- especially the knowledge you gain around marketing and branding.
The Future of AI
The market for AI tools and applications is expected to explode in the next three years. By 2020, revenue generated from AI-based systems is expected to hit $47 billion, a drastic jump from the $8 billion it generated in 2016.
As more funds pour into this relatively young industry, we’re sure to see new and better applications for AI within the business and fundraising spaces.
Kayla Matthews writes about fundraising and technology for sites like Nonprofit Hub and Volunteer Match. Read more posts by Kayla on her on her tech website, ProductivityBytes.com.