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How to Leverage AI Effectively as a Fundraising Professional

By Joshua LaBorde posted 06-26-2023 15:34



The AI takeover has begun. From generative AI tools and chatbots like ChatGPT to predictive models that help organizations anticipate donor behavior, AI tools are ready to provide support in multiple ways. As a fundraising professional, are you prepared to seize this opportunity? 

Taking on new challenges and learning new ways to improve fundraising efficiency will elevate your performance and the fundraising profession as a whole. This guide will help you learn how AI skills can further your professional development and your nonprofit’s fundraising success. 

Let’s dive into three ways fundraising professionals can prepare themselves to leverage AI effectively in campaigns and initiatives.

1. Understand the Ways AI Is Used in Fundraising

As a fundraising professional, stewarding major gift prospects and predicting donor behaviors are likely two of your most important responsibilities. AI fundraising tools can support your efforts in both areas by providing accurate data insights and helping you get to know your donors and prospects on a deeper level. 

Here’s what you should know about prospecting and predictive AI fundraising tools: 

Prospect Development

AI prospect development tools (or consulting partners) can build predictive models that help fundraising professionals: 

  • Identify prospective major and planned donors
  • Renew donors who also gave the previous year
  • Choose the right donation request amount and communication channel

Top prospect development tools use your nonprofit’s internal database to make relevant models, not generic third-party datasets. 

Predictive Analytics

Predictive analytics tools (also known as predictive modeling) help make accurate estimations about donors’ future actions. Predictive modeling can help fundraisers with: 

  • Donor or grateful patient scoring and portfolio development
  • Audience persona development
  • Lapsed donor reactivation
  • Predicting the impact of external economic factors on your organization

Understanding how these AI tools can help your organization is the first step in introducing more modern fundraising practices at your nonprofit that drive a higher return on investment (ROI). 

2. Conduct AI Training and Professional Development

To thrive as a fundraising professional, ongoing professional development is essential. Devote some of your professional development training to furthering your understanding of AI by: 

  • Researching new AI developments. Keep an eye out for news articles about AI fundraising from major publications to understand how other organizations are leveraging this technology. 

  • Experimenting and testing out AI tools on your own time. Get familiar with user-friendly generative AI tools like ChatGPT, image generators like DALL-E, or video generation platforms like Synesthesia. See how these tools can help generate creative marketing messages or strategies. Remember to avoid inputting sensitive information into these platforms, including donor and constituent data. 

  • Learning how to use AI as a tool to supplement or enhance current strategies. Effective fundraising will always require a human touch. AI fundraising should not be a complete and total replacement for all of your traditional fundraising processes. Instead, learn to use these tools to supplement your tried-and-true outreach methods.

Remember, it’s not necessary to become the foremost expert in AI fundraising. By starting with a basic understanding of how these tools can help your nonprofit, you can become an advocate for exploring more AI solutions or partnering with AI experts who can develop sustainable strategies for your organization. 

3. Be Aware of the Ethical Considerations of AI Fundraising

Maintaining trust with supporters is critical to the success of your fundraising efforts. That’s why it’s essential to also understand the ethical concerns that accompany AI fundraising platforms. 

BWF’s AI fundraising guide outlines three main ethical considerations to k Here are three main ethical considerations to keep in mind: 

  • Data privacy and transparent data policies. Keeping donor data secure throughout the AI fundraising process is essential. Carefully vet any AI fundraising tools or partners to determine their data storage and protection policies. 

  • DEI considerations and managing bias in AI algorithms. Assess your AI tools and partners to determine whether they’ve taken strides to eliminate potential biases within their algorithms. Since many AI tools can be trained using your nonprofit’s internal database, it helps to assess your internal data collection procedures and eliminate any biases, such as demographic, geographic, or economic biases. 

  • Due diligence. Even though AI tools will help automate much of your fundraising process, you should still personally review your prospecting results to make sure you don’t unintentionally accept gifts from sources that aren’t aligned with your nonprofit’s values. Establish policies for when to disqualify a prospect and apply them uniformly across your development pipeline. You may want to update your organization’s master gift acceptance policy to account for prospects discovered via AI.

Understanding the complexities of AI fundraising will help you grow as a fundraiser and ensure your nonprofit can benefit from the latest fundraising best practices to earn more for your mission.

New AI tools and best practices are constantly evolving, so keep an eye on the latest developments to stay on the cutting edge of this innovative fundraising technique. 



08-15-2023 12:31

This is an excellent summary of a complex and rapidly evolving space. Thanks!