It’s hard to miss the headlines about ChatGPT and artificial intelligence. AI can personalize customer service and ChatGPT can write a term paper (or a blog post, but I promise I’m human!) in a snap, but what does this latest tech craze mean for your nonprofit?
At CharityEngine, we spend a lot of time with our ear to the proverbial ground listening for hoofbeats. It’s the only way to stay ahead of the trend and ensure that CharityEngine clients have access to the best and most effective donor management and fundraising technology out there.
And we’re seeing the same headlines you are – that ChatGPT just got eyes and ears, for example – and we wanted to answer the question that many of our clients are thinking or preparing to ask: what does my nonprofit need to know?
In this article, we will explain how these changes in technology can help nonprofits, and then zero in on how this technology is already helping CharityEngine clients. There’s a little something for everyone!
What is ChatGPT, and is it AI?
Let’s break down the acronyms! ChatGPT uses AI, or artificial intelligence, technology to allow users to “chat” with a bot. If you go to almost any website and click on the chatbot, you know you can make your way through the first few levels of communication by selecting answers to scripted questions.
The answers you can choose from are programmed by the organization. If you click on Otto, our chatbot, you will select answers we chose to display, and your request will be branched accordingly. Traditional chatbots are limited by the way they’ve been programmed.
ChatGPT is like Otto after he’s had a case of Red Bull with a chaser of espresso.
This processing tool takes the idea of a chat to a new level. Rather than being constrained by pre-programmed information, ChatGPT will scour the internet for answers to your questions and can quickly amalgamate information and calibrate answers as the questions change. It is definitely cool and fun to play with. Ask it to produce a chicken recipe for dinner and you’ll quickly get “a recipe for baked garlic butter chicken that’s both easy and delicious.” While it’s not actually thinking about your question, it has an impressive ability to process what you’re asking and even pay attention to nuances.
Can Nonprofits Benefit from ChatGPT?
The short answer is yes. Here’s an excellent article with some examples. A quick caveat, though: we recommend using this tool as a guide, not a replacement for human effort. So, for example, you could ask ChatGPT to write a donation letter or copy for your donation website page. Then you would edit and revise it to include your mission and language representative of your brand.
The primary benefit to nonprofits will revolve around creating content and eliminating human effort on menial tasks. Here are a few use cases:
- ChatGPT could help create blocks of text that you need to use over and over, such as in grants.
- It could create social media content.
- It can give you creative ideas for fundraising.
- You can ask questions about your data and get useful answers to inform your fundraising, such as “At what time of day do donors older than 50 tend to give the most money?” And then schedule your next fundraising email accordingly.
- Ask for ideas for in-kind donations or how to create an effective fundraising campaign.
- Let ChatGPT help you with donor retention by writing thank-you emails.
- It can craft templates for fundraising emails, receipts for tax purposes, even summarize bills and legislation for advocacy.
- The software can help you research an issue, report on demographics, and predict trends based on past events.
The possibilities are almost limitless.
Here’s an example. We asked Chat GPT how to optimize email messages to maximize donations for nonprofit event attendees. Here’s what ChatGPT returned:
And you know what? They’re not wrong. But our content likely helped the tool come up with the answer!
Try it! Type “How can nonprofits increase fundraising?” and you’ll quickly get a list of seven ideas. In short, it’s a tool that can help you analyze data to create content and get insights into patterns based on massive amounts of data. It can also help you see nuances and extrapolate the data to predict future trends. It can give you ideas, and it will certainly disrupt Google’s dominance as a search tool.
Two things to note: it’s not original content, because it’s culled from published works on the internet. And there’s no analysis or personality, so make sure any content you publish is really your own. ChatGPT offers great chicken recipes, but the delivery can be a little dry (even if the chicken isn’t).
Can Nonprofits Benefit from Other AI Applications?
Yes, and now we’re talking. AI can help you engage your donors and raise more money. How? The same way analytics can in a CRM: AI can use data to predict patterns and trends that can impact your strategic fundraising. AI can help nonprofits find grants and can predict which fundraising efforts will be the most effective at which time of the year.
AI can help nonprofits save time and money by greatly increasing efficiencies. It can reduce human error and perform repetitive or mundane tasks. It can offer insights into your donors and tell you when and how to reach out for maximum giving.
But remember what we said: AI can analyze your data and give you insights, as well as create new opportunities from that analysis. But...
- Will it transform your nonprofit? Yes. And if you have your data in order and you have technology like CharityEngine, you are prepared for this transformation.
- Will it eliminate or replace staff? If a leaner staff is what you’re looking for, AI can create efficiencies that reduce man hours.
- Does my nonprofit need to use AI? Yes! In some form or another, it's here to stay.
CharityEngine and AI: Why Consolidated Data Matters
Does CharityEngine use AI? Yes, and our capabilities are growing daily.
When you are in our system and you see a donor’s engagement score and gift probability, that’s the result of AI. Those scores are generated by the software constantly scanning more than 50 points of data to identify anniversaries and birthdays, giving history, time of year, donor behavior, preferences, and other details. Our engagement and gift probability scoring substantially increases fundraising! And our advanced fraud protection module leverages AI, too.
But those uses aren’t the only reason our clients can get excited about AI. As we’ve discussed, AI is only as good as your data. And your data is only as good as where it is stored. In other words, if you have an email provider and a payment processor and event software AND a donor database, AI won’t be able to scan all of those systems at once to offer intelligence based on a holistic view of your donors.
While we’ve talked about how CharityEngine is an all-in-one CRM, there are two components to that. First, the fundraising tools a smaller nonprofit needs are all in one place. That's helpful when you haven’t begun to build your tech stack.
But CharityEngine also keeps all your data in one place. This means that when we layer even more AI functionality into our platform, that AI can develop algorithms based on entire donor pictures. Simply put, your AI is going to be smarter than another nonprofit’s AI, because yours will be more informed.
How will CharityEngine’s AI capabilities evolve? We are adding a writing assistant feature, in which you can ask Otto to write a fundraising letter or other content. And we are currently developing technology that will inform your fundraising strategy, down to predicting revenue.
The smartest thing you, as a nonprofit can do, is to consolidate your data. There are systems other than ours that keep all donor data in the same place, so if you use one of them, ask if they’re actively creating algorithms in AI that will help you engage donors and increase fundraising.
And if you’re a CharityEngine customer, stay tuned. We’ve got big things coming.