Should fundraisers not using AI prepare to be left behind?

Chris Paver – 4 September 2023

In the realm of fundraising, I’ve noticed an interesting situation play out when it comes to donor data. Having worked with hundreds of nonprofits over the years, I’ve seen the immense resources, funds and effort they invest in collecting, storing and managing their donor data. From complex CRM migrations to sophisticated data warehousing systems, the dedication is undeniable. Even the painstaking manual entry and coding of data reflects a commitment to gathering crucial insights about their supporter base.

But despite these efforts, I’ve seen many nonprofits fail to fully capitalize on the data they have and the solutions they’ve built. It’s like having a treasure trove full of insights about their donors and opportunities to drive innovation and fuel growth, but no key to access them.


AI is the key to unlocking more donor insights

I believe the key to realizing the full potential of your nonprofit’s donor data is AI. Predictive AI technologies, like machine learning models, transform what was once considered a challenge in fundraising — how to extract actionable insights from a vast amount of donor data and turn it into an opportunity to improve fundraising outcomes. Because let’s face it; humans have significant limitations when it comes to crunching large volumes of data and turning it into something meaningful and actionable.

Machine learning models (a type of AI) on the other hand, can effortlessly crunch billions of data points in mere moments, surpassing any human capacity in terms of speed and accuracy. And unlike humans who rely on intuition and experience, machine learning models dig deeper, uncovering intricate connections between data and identifying patterns that may otherwise go unnoticed.

The predictive prowess of AI is simply unparalleled – it can precisely gauge donor affinity and accurately forecast the likelihood of specific donor actions, empowering fundraisers to shape more effective donor engagement strategies.

I’m not saying AI will replace fundraisers. It won’t. But fundraisers that use machine learning in their fundraising practices will replace those that don’t. That’s because AI will enhance their ability to make data-driven decisions that improve the donor experience and achieve better fundraising outcomes, while streamlining their processes and improving efficiency. And it’s easier to implement than you may think. 

Leveraging AI in fundraising helps nonprofits make the most of their existing data. The insights about individual donors and their broader supporter base can revolutionize the way they fundraise, streamline their operations and drive a whole new level of impact for their cause.


But AI in fundraising has evolved beyond just deep data analysis and donor predictions…

Just as AI can unlock the untapped potential of donor data, the emergence of generative AI technologies like ChatGPT provides a new opportunity for fundraisers to unlock their productivity, fuel content creation and improve donor communications.

With limited time and resources, nonprofits often struggle to reach and engage donors on a meaningful level. Human capacity can only stretch so far. New generative AI technologies, on the other hand, enables fundraisers to scale their efforts more efficiently and engage donors in a more personalized way.

Undoubtedly the invention of marketing automation platforms has helped fundraisers send more communications to their donors with greater ease. But these solutions have not necessarily improved the quality of communications. My bug-bear with mass or generic communications is they lack the personal touch that connects with donors on a deeper level. That’s why I find the idea of leveraging ChatGPT’s capabilities incredibly exciting and why we created the first AI writing tool for nonprofit fundraising use – Dataro’s AI Assist.

Right now, you can provide Large Language Model tools like ChatGPT with specific information about a donor – their interests, age, and background – and witness the magic unfold. ChatGPT can generate a letter or message that not only addresses the donor’s preferences but also acknowledges their unique concerns. This level of personalization showcases a genuine understanding of the donor’s perspective, fostering a stronger connection between the fundraiser and the donor.

Generative AI tools are key to helping fundraisers personalize donor communications at scale and improving donor engagement. By demonstrating a profound understanding of each donor’s individuality, we can significantly enhance their level of engagement and increase response rates. It’s an opportunity to make every interaction count and make donors feel valued and heard.


But AI in fundraising has evolved beyond just deep data analysis and donor predictions…

AI in fundraising has transitioned from being a trend, or a choice into an outright necessity. Organizations that overlook integrating AI into their fundraising strategies stand to miss out on the insights and operational efficiencies it brings, making it tougher to manage and engage donors effectively in the future.

I understand that this technology is feared by some, and there are legitimate concerns – particularly in the emerging space of generative AI. Skeptics are rightfully cautious about losing the human touch and the potential risk of over reliance on machines for crucial tasks.

I believe in striking a balance. AI should be seen as a tool, a robust partner that not only saves time but also enhances our ability to make informed decisions and scale fundraising efforts. It’s about harnessing the strength of both worlds – the efficiency and scalability of AI, complemented by the empathy and strategic touch unique to humans.

AI is the key to helping nonprofits operate more efficiently and deliver impactful donor engagement that drives long-term sustainability for their cause. And the real magic of fundraising unfolds at the intersection of AI and human expertise.