A Smarter Way to Fundraise: Explore Classy’s Fundraising Intelligence Suite

AI’s Influence on Community-Driven Fundraising

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Published April 23, 2024 Reading Time: 6 minutes

This blog was written in collaboration with Nathan Chappell, co-founder of Fundraising.AI, Senior Vice President of DonorSearch, and co-author of the bestselling book, “The Generosity Crisis: The Case for Radical Connection to Solve Humanity’s Greatest Challenges.”

In an increasingly digital world, how people connect, support, and uplift one another is changing. While the breadth of online communication allows nonprofits to efficiently scale their efforts, delivering meaningful interactions now requires more effort.

How can we rediscover the art of relationship-building at scale in an era dominated by digital interactions?

AI offers great potential.

Transactional vs. Community-First Fundraising Approaches

The philosophy of community-driven fundraising has evolved over time. In an AI-centric world, these changes are manifesting at an accelerating pace.

Community has long been the heart of charitable giving, and fundraising was often a by-product of community-centrism. This evolved to accommodate the diverse digital paths of donors as fundraising moved predominantly online, leading to a more transactional approach. Today, to achieve results, fundraisers must create expansive community engagement while delivering seamless digital donation experiences on a large scale.

However, declining levels of those making charitable gifts over the past two decades have prompted nonprofits to continue with more transactional interactions as they worked for every dollar to fund their urgent and ongoing initiatives. With reduced resources, understaffing, and economic uncertainties, focusing on funding for immediate gain became a necessary strategy for survival.

Meanwhile, the for-profit world—often viewed through a different lens—demonstrated remarkable adeptness in embracing personalized, community-driven approaches, showcasing the undeniable value of building lasting connections by linking the relationship between the heart and wallet.

It’s clear that while transactions are crucial, they only represent a fragment of the larger picture. The real magic happens in the space between these transactions—in building and nurturing relationships.

Unlocking the Potential of AI: Transforming Community Engagement

What if there was a tool that could help you build and nurture relationships at scale without requiring additional resources?

The answer lies in the thoughtful integration of technology and, more specifically, artificial intelligence (AI).

The power of AI to transform how we engage with our communities is game changing. It offers nonprofits the tools to streamline operations and delve deeper into the fabric of supporter networks, understanding preferences, behaviors, and the nuances that make each relationship unique.

The precision to understand a donor journey through predictive AI, complemented by a personalized approach powered by generative AI, will transform our sector’s ability to connect with supporters at scale in deep and personal ways.

Classy is preparing to introduce its fundraising intelligence suite to the sector. I’m excited to discuss this in more detail in my AI community conversation at Collaborative this May and help support the launch of Classy’s latest intelligence features.

A deep understanding of donor preferences could enhance the effectiveness and precision of fundraising efforts, allowing nonprofits to identify donors’ reasons for involvement.

The result will rest in the ability to create more meaningful interactions, laying the groundwork for trust—a critical element in any relationship.

Building Trust through Responsible and Beneficial AI Practices

Trust is fundamental for sustaining support and engagement, ensuring that contributions have a tangible impact. In this regard, nonprofits are in the business of trust, requiring the highest level of accountability.

With AI, trust goes beyond ethical use to ensure its responsible and beneficial application.

Nonprofits must guarantee their technology benefits humanity in the short and long term. Advancements in AI should enhance human connections, not replace them.

Consider the work of the AI for Good Foundation, renowned for its innovative approach to addressing societal issues through AI. One standout initiative is Eureka, an intelligent assistant aiding refugees in integrating into new communities.

The Eureka platform streamlines the integration process, offering personalized support and resources. Eureka exemplifies how AI can be used for social good, aligning with responsible and beneficial AI principles by directly serving vulnerable populations and improving their access to vital services.

8 Ways to Leverage AI to Inform Your Donor Experiences

Explore a new realm of donor engagement and experience enhancement through these eight innovative strategies that leverage the transformative power of AI.

1. Craft Personalized Journeys at Scale

The dream of delivering highly personalized donor communications becomes a tangible reality with AI. By analyzing patterns in donor behavior and preferences while honoring privacy preferences, AI can enable us to craft messages that resonate on an individual level, ensuring every donor feels seen and valued.

This level of personalization extends to the donor experience, where machine-learning algorithms can predict ask amounts, potentially leading to increased conversions and upsells. For example, Classy’s Intelligent Ask Amounts feature—launching soon—ensures that each donor sees the most appropriate suggested ask, which could help maximize their potential contribution.

2. Unlock Predictive Insights for Proactive Engagement

Using predictive analytics to understand and anticipate donor actions provides a forward-looking perspective for your engagement strategies. AI helps identify potential major donors and understand donor behavior nuances, enabling proactive engagement and tailored experiences that resonate with donors’ current and future interests.

While predictive analytics have been integral in fundraising, AI revolutionizes this approach, extending high-touch fundraising practices to the digital realm and providing a scalable method to uncover untapped donor potential. In these cases, access to a robust philanthropic dataset is crucial for creating accurate and meaningful predictions.

3. Refine Donor Segmentation with AI Precision

AI goes beyond traditional demographic segmentation, delving deeper into donor data to reveal insights on engagement levels, interests, and advocacy potential. This refined segmentation enables targeted campaigns that resonate with donors’ motivations, fostering a sense of belonging and commitment to your cause.

For example, you can establish a continuous feedback loop by utilizing personalized asks on donation forms. This data can then feed into your Salesforce instance and connect to Marketing Cloud to develop new segmentation for future engagement and tailored donor strategies. This cyclical process thrives on the integration of accurate data and efficient pathways.

4. Streamline Stewardship with Automated Efficiencies

AI-driven automation tools revolutionize stewardship, enabling timely and heartfelt communications without straining resources. From personalized thank-you’s to impactful updates on donation outcomes, automation keeps donors engaged and informed, strengthening trust and appreciation.

5. Elevate Fundraising Events with Personalized Interactions

Integrating AI in fundraising events transforms attendee experiences, making them more personalized and engaging. By leveraging chatbots for instant support and employing data analytics for event optimization, AI ensures each event is a memorable journey that deepens donor commitment and broadens community impact.

6. Champion Ethical Data Use

In the digital age, prioritizing the ethical use of data is crucial. By emphasizing transparency and security in your AI initiatives, you demonstrate your commitment to donor privacy and trust. This ethical approach emphasizes your values and fosters a community where every stakeholder feels respected and protected.

7. Create Immersive and Interactive Experiences

AI opens the door to innovative donor engagement strategies, from virtual reality tours of project sites to interactive impact simulations. These immersive experiences bring your work to life, allowing donors to witness firsthand the transformative power of their support.

8. Adapt with Real-Time Feedback

AI’s agility in analyzing real-time engagement data is a game changer, enabling swift adaptation of strategies to keep donor experiences relevant and resonant. By staying attuned to shifting donor expectations and preferences, your community-driven fundraising approach can not only endure but thrive.

In harnessing the transformative potential of AI, we open a new chapter in personalized philanthropy—one where technology and humanity converge to create a tapestry of genuine connections.

As we embark on this journey, let us remain steadfast in our commitment to leveraging AI not as a replacement for human interaction but as a tool to enhance and enrich it, paving the way for a future where generosity flourishes in every interaction.

The Future of Fundraising

Looking forward, the future of philanthropy is vibrant and filled with potential. The shift toward precision philanthropy to boost local initiatives, empowered by platforms like Classy working to pave the way, signals a return to our roots—a recognition of the power of community at scale and the impact of collective action.

Technology enables all people to rally around causes that matter in meaningful ways, creating waves of change that ripple through our communities and beyond.

In this future, trust remains our guiding star. Building and nurturing this trust is an ongoing journey that requires transparency, authenticity, and a commitment to the ethical and beneficial deployment of AI.

As we navigate this path, we get reminded of the delicate balance between technology and humanity and the incredible potential that lies in their synergy.

Foster Genuine Connections to Inspire Change

The revitalization of community-driven fundraising—underpinned by AI—offers us a unique opportunity to redefine philanthropy for the modern age. In fact, the future of our sector will depend on our ability to leverage AI effectively.

This inflection point is a chance to reconnect with the core values that bind us, leveraging the best technology to build a more connected, engaged, and empowered world.

Thank you for joining me on this journey, for your unwavering commitment to making this world a more connected place, and for believing in the power of community. Together, this sector will lay the foundation for a future where philanthropy is not just about raising funds but about fostering genuine connections that inspire lasting change.

Copy Editor: Ayanna Julien


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