Blog       AI for fundraising teams – how to get started

AI for fundraising teams – how to get started

In today's digital age, the use of AI (Artificial Intelligence) in our daily working lives is increasing across many industries, and the fundraising sector is no exception. 

Whilst some may view AI with hesitation or skepticism, it’s important for fundraisers to recognize the transformative potential it holds, and the positive impact it can have on your fundraising efforts. Here at GivePanel, we’ve put our heads together to think about how nonprofits can best make use of this emerging technology, and why it’s important not to be left behind.

First up, what is AI?

Without going too “Meta”, what better way to understand what AI is than asking ChatGPT?

“AI refers to computer systems that can perform tasks requiring human intelligence. It involves algorithms and models that enable machines to understand, learn, and make decisions. AI includes machine learning, natural language processing, computer vision, and robotics. There are two types: narrow AI (task-specific) and general AI (human-level intelligence). While AI has limitations, it has the potential to transform various industries.”

If you think that sounds like a whole other language, you may be surprised to learn about the level of exposure to AI you already have. For example, if you use LinkedIn regularly, it’s likely you’ll have read posts written by an AI LinkedIn post generator; if you click on social media ads that match your interests it’s an AI tool that has selected and displayed them for you. And we probably don’t need to tell you about the many chatbots on websites and apps you use every day, which are also driven by AI technology.  

So, whilst charities aren’t normally ones for jumping on the bandwagon early, we think there’s opportunity for fundraising teams to revolutionize the way you work and maximize your time and resources (so you can spend your time on what really matters!)

AI for fundraising teams - how to get started - blog image 2

Example of an AI LinkedIn post generator

Easy ways you can start using AI today

We believe that the best way to learn is to do! So, let’s start with 3 simple ways AI can be incorporated into your everyday fundraising tasks. 

  1. Content generation

Crafting compelling and persuasive content is crucial for engaging supporters and inspiring them to contribute to your cause. But, it can be a lengthy process! An AI tool such as ChatGPT could help you produce a variety of fundraising materials at scale, such as appeal letters, email campaigns, and social media posts. Be mindful though of the storytelling finesse that humans bring to the table - copyediting is key! 

  1. Research assistance

We all know how time-consuming and stressful trawling the internet can be, especially when you’re working to a deadline. But what if you didn’t have to? AI technology can accelerate the process of gathering valuable information for a variety of fundraising reasons, such as potential major donors, corporate sponsors, popular fundraising activities, or successful strategies used by similar nonprofits. Integrating AI into your research workflow can enhance your efficiency, allowing your team to focus on what machines can’t do (yet) - building human connections. 

  1. Admin tasks

There are definitely tasks in your week that you’d rather not do…the boring, non-fundraising, time-consuming tasks that only a very large cup of coffee will see you through. But replace the caffeine with AI and suddenly your week just got a whole lot lighter. By adopting this approach, you can have more time available for fundraising efforts, leading to improved work quality and potentially, increased funds raised for your cause. As Tom Hickey, Fundraising Consultant, asks, “If AI could free up one hour a day, how would you use it?”

Ready to leap into the world of AI? Here are some recommendations for the best AI tools to use right now, from the team at GivePanel:

Tom, Customer Success Manager:

“I’d recommend charities investing some time into CopyAI as I think it could be a really great way to support them with fundraising communications like email journeys, or speed up the process of social media content generation. We could all do with an extra hour in the day!” 

Carol, Head of People:

“I’ve been using AI in my day-to-day work by using SlidesAI to help me pull together presentations. It speeds up the process and allows me to go in and edit an initial draft so I’m not staring at a blank page!”

James, Full Stack Developer:

“I’d recommend MidJourney. It’s image generation based off of prompts and there’s a lot you can do with it. I think it would help charities with creating media that they can actually use and share without having to pay freelancers or photographers for the images.”

Nick, CEO & Founder:

Lumen5 is all about that content creation piece with AI. It’s been around for a long time for video generation but they’ve now developed short-form video AI and it’s really, really good.” 

Cat, Head of Marketing:

“If you spend a lot of time making notes in meetings or transcribing audio or video content for other formats like blogs and impact stories, I’d recommend trying You can connect it to your existing tech stack like Zoom super easily, get it to take notes and summarize actions for you, or import files for auto transcriptions and summary notes.” 

Screenshot of the Otter AI tool in action

Otter AI tool in action

How can I boost AI adoption in my nonprofit?

Okay, so you’re excited about the potential of AI, but how do you get the rest of your organization on board with you? We think there are 4 elements to consider: 

  1. Starting from the top

Nonprofit leaders play a crucial role in fostering AI adoption. They need to understand AI and its potential, inspiring their teams to explore and embrace this transformative technology. So, if you’re a nonprofit leader, be transparent with your teams about when you’re using AI, and make sure everyone knows it’s not considered cheating or cutting corners!

  1. Late adopters

It’s natural that some people will be hesitant to embrace AI due to concerns about cost, disruptions, or simply a lack of familiarity - and that’s okay. By providing education and training (a lot of which you can find for free online), your nonprofit can take everyone on the AI journey together, ensuring your team is clear on how you’ll be using it and what impact it can have. 

  1. Integration is key

Before you consider using it externally, it’s a good idea to implement AI into internal processes first. This way, you can familiarize yourself with the tools and see the difference it makes to the way you work, without any risk of impact to your supporters. By figuring out which areas or functions can benefit from AI the most, and making a plan to put it into action, charities can make AI a regular part of how they operate, instead of something separate and potentially, temporary.

  1. A curious culture

Nonprofits should foster an environment that encourages ideas, questions and experimentation with AI. Share webinars and workshops with your teams and promote collaboration and knowledge sharing. Or you could try partnering with an AI expert to stay up-to-date with the latest advancements and best practices. 

But what about the risks?

AI has the potential to bring big changes to how charities raise funds and operate on a daily basis, but it also comes with some risks. One major challenge is not relying too much on AI without human input. Right now, AI technology isn't always accurate enough for certain decisions, and it might not be designed specifically with charities in mind. AI assistants might not have been trained with real human data, so the information they give might not be completely reliable or relevant to your charity.

But don't worry! It's easy to mitigate this risk if your team stays in control of anything AI generates. Use AI tools to create draft versions of content or resources, and then add your charity’s touch by using your own writing style, accurate advice and tone of voice. By finding the right balance between AI and human involvement, charities can reap the rewards of this emerging technology, increasing their ability to fundraise and connect with supporters.

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