The use of artificial intelligence in the nonprofit sector has fundamentally changed the way organizations spread their message and increase donations.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation even equipped 50 grant recipients with funding to support their efforts to use AI tools to create community health and development solutions. This project demonstrates the spirit of urgency and innovation when using AI solutions to solve complex social problems.
If your nonprofit is looking to expand its AI fundraising efforts, it’s essential to develop a clear AI fundraising strategy. With this in mind, let’s explore four vital tips for developing an AI fundraising approach that is both sustainable and responsible:
- Set clear objectives.
- Choose the right AI solutions.
- Take steps to maintain data hygiene.
- Establish ethical guidelines for AI use.
When used in tandem with a human touch, AI fundraising can help streamline the donor journey, build more genuine supporter relationships, and give your nonprofit’s staff more time back in their days to devote directly to your mission.
1. Set clear objectives.
Just like any new fundraising initiative, it’s important to establish clear goals for your AI fundraising efforts to tangibly measure your progress.
Align your AI strategies with your marketing and fundraising goals. Identify specific fundraising targets and key performance indicators (KPIs), including metrics like:
- Donor retention rates
- Online conversions
- Monthly donor rate
- Average donation amount
- Number of major donor prospects
- Fundraising ROI
Set benchmarks for assessing how your AI fundraising solutions and strategies have impacted these metrics over time.
2. Choose the right AI solutions.
There are plenty of AI solutions available for nonprofits, from generative AI tools like ChatGPT to predictive modeling solutions that help anticipate future donor behaviors. Review your goals and budget to select the right tools for your organization.
- If you’re looking to improve your website’s experience, a chatbot can help visitors find the resources they need faster. Plus, your team will be able to spend less time answering website visitors’ questions.
- If you want to improve your prospect research process, a predictive analytics tool might be the right solution for your organization. According to BWF, predictive modeling solutions can help identify prospects who exhibit key major donor characteristics, such as a high giving capacity.
- If your marketing outreach needs a boost, an AI-driven marketing platform can help offer suggestions to improve and personalize your communications. These solutions can provide ideas for email subject lines and content, blog posts, and social media posts, in addition to automatically personalizing outreach using donor information.
3. Take steps to maintain data hygiene.
AI fundraising tools rely on clean data to function properly. Organized data ensures your AI solutions can leverage accurate information to make your fundraising outreach more targeted and increase your response rates.
NPOInfo’s guide to nonprofit data hygiene offers the following tips for keeping your organization’s database clean:
- Conduct regular audits to identify inaccurate, duplicate, or outdated information. Remove this data as needed. Many CRMs can also comb through your database and remove unneeded data automatically—consider whether your system already offers this functionality or if your organization should start thinking about an upgrade.
- Establish data entry procedures to standardize data input. For example, provide clear instructions on how to input specific data points like names, addresses, and phone numbers. This will help avoid duplication or inaccurate entries.
- Work with a CRM consultant or data marketing specialist to help organize your database. These professionals can review your current data management approach and help configure your CRM system to better meet your needs.
4. Establish ethical guidelines for AI use.
AI fundraising tools are still evolving, and each tool uses unique processes to help nonprofits access data insights. That’s why it’s important to audit any AI solutions or services you use to ensure they align with relevant ethical and data privacy regulations and donor expectations.
Establish guidelines to:
- Eliminate bias in your AI fundraising practices. Make sure any AI solutions you use proactively identify and correct instances of bias. Also, your AI fundraising solutions should leverage your nonprofit’s unique data so that the insights they produce reflect the demographics and characteristics of your specific donor pool.
- Keep donor information secure. Establish procedures for keeping donor data safe. For example, leverage data encryption to make data unreadable if it happens to fall into the wrong hands. In addition, implement user access controls so staff members only have access to data relevant to their role.
- Inform donors about how you’re using their data. Ask donors for permission to store their data and make sure they have the option to opt out if they don’t want their information to be used in your AI fundraising processes. Also, let supporters know how your nonprofit uses their data to improve your fundraising efforts.
- Take accountability for any security or ethical issues. Develop a plan for how to address ethical or data breaches if they do occur. Designate roles that staff members will take, such as who will identify how the breach happened and how to avoid it in the future, who will communicate with donors, corporate sponsors, and other stakeholders, and who will coordinate with your legal team.
By creating these guidelines as soon as possible, you’ll set your fundraising team up for greater success and help manage potential risks associated with AI use.
Remember to combine any AI fundraising tools or strategies you use with your existing fundraising efforts to support your current approach. AI fundraising won’t completely replace every aspect of your fundraising plan, especially the elements that require the touch of a trained, professional fundraiser. But with a balanced approach and the tips in this guide, you can leverage AI fundraising solutions to increase fundraising ROI and ultimately support your mission more effectively.