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Ep 105: AI in Fundraising – Building Trust with Stakeholders

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  • 20 Sep, 2023
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Overview

businesses and organizations are constantly looking for innovative ways to solve complex problems and achieve their goals. One area where AI has shown immense potential is fundraising. Nonprofits and other organizations can leverage AI to streamline processes, improve collaboration, and ultimately raise more funds for their causes. In this article, we will explore the key benefits and practical applications of AI in fundraising, highlighting how it can help build trust with stakeholders and drive meaningful impact.

Streamlining Collaboration Efforts:

Effective collaboration is crucial in fundraising, and AI can significantly enhance this aspect. With AI-powered tools, such as chatbots and project management platforms, organizations can streamline event planning, grant writing, and other fundraising activities. For instance, by using AI-driven event planning tools, professionals can automate tasks like invitation copywriting, data management, and even generate personalized thank-you notes. This not only saves time but also ensures high-quality deliverables that align with organizational goals and mission.

Improving Grant Writing Efficiency:

Grant writing is a labor-intensive process that demands meticulous attention to detail. AI can revolutionize this aspect by simplifying the process and increasing efficiency. With the help of large language models, organizations can automate the completion of grant applications while maintaining the unique requirements of each opportunity. AI-powered tools assist in generating tailored responses, adhering to specific word counts, and formatting guidelines. This enables nonprofits to focus on crafting compelling narratives and impactful outcomes, avoiding extended periods of exhaustion and burnout.

Enhancing Donor Engagement:

One of the most critical aspects of fundraising is building and nurturing relationships with donors. AI can play a vital role in enhancing donor engagement by providing personalized experiences and tailored communications. By analyzing donor data and leveraging predictive analytics, organizations can gain valuable insights into donor preferences, interests, and giving patterns. This information allows fundraisers to create targeted campaigns, communicate the impact of donations effectively, and build stronger trust with their supporters.

Leveraging AI-Powered Recommendation Systems:

AI-driven recommendation systems can be powerful tools for nonprofits to maximize their fundraising efforts. By analyzing patterns and behaviors of potential donors, AI algorithms can suggest the most suitable fundraising initiatives, events, or campaigns to target specific individuals or groups. These systems can also provide real-time feedback, allowing organizations to adjust their strategies and optimize their fundraising initiatives accordingly. This data-driven approach ensures that fundraising efforts are directed towards the right audience, with a higher likelihood of success.

Building Trust and Transparency with Stakeholders:

Fundraising success heavily relies on establishing trust and transparency with stakeholders, including donors, volunteers, and supporters. AI can assist in achieving this by automating processes, minimizing human error, and providing reliable data insights. By using AI technology to streamline operations and ensure efficient use of resources, organizations can demonstrate responsible stewardship and accountability to their stakeholders. This, in turn, fosters confidence and trust among potential donors, leading to increased support and long-term partnerships.

Conclusion:

As AI technologies continue to evolve, nonprofits and other organizations have an incredible opportunity to leverage these tools to enhance their fundraising efforts. By embracing AI-powered solutions, organizations can streamline collaboration, optimize grant writing processes, enhance donor engagement, and build trust with their stakeholders. The use of AI in fundraising not only enables more efficient operations but also empowers organizations to drive meaningful impact and change in the world. So, let’s harness the power of AI and transform the future of fundraising together.

Topics Covered in This Episode

Primary Topic: Introduction to Guest and Empowered Fundraiser
– Introduction of Anne Murphy as the CEO of Empowered Fundraiser
– Discussion on her background in nonprofit fundraising
– Overview of what Empowered Fundraiser does


Primary Topic: Nonprofit Use of AI
– Exploration of how nonprofits can use generative AI
– Emphasis on collaboration and event planning as AI use cases
– Discussion on AI’s role in grant writing

Podcast Transcript

Jordan Wilson [00:00:19]:

How can we use AI in an area like fundraising? Right? Nonprofits, non government agencies, they can use this. This is actually something near and dear to my heart. I spent ten years working at a nonprofit, so I’m extremely excited to talk about today, how we can use AI in fundraising. So welcome. My name is Jordan Wilson. I’m the host of Everyday AI. This is your Daily Livestream podcast and free daily newsletter helping everyday people learn and leverage AI. Right, I know there are so many people who work in this industry who want to hear some secrets from our guests today. So give us a couple of minutes.

Daily AI news

But first, we’re going to go over the daily AI news. It’s something we do every single day. This is how we keep up, y’all. We talk about it. All right, so let’s start at the top. If you’re not getting good results in AI, maybe you should be nice to your AI chatbots and coach them through it. So a new Google DeepMind study has some surprising results. So they found that the phrase take a deep breath and work on this problem step by step, that was found to be the most effective prompt when using Google’s own Palm two large language model and using that and saying, hey, breathe, and take it step by step, it caused math scores to soar pretty interesting, I believe. I read this a couple of months ago, and I’ve been using this myself, so it’s cool to see there’s some actual data or science behind it.

All right, so is there a new AI startup ready to take on Microsoft in the health field? All right, a new startup called Cordy APS, I believe is the name. Yeah, that’s it. They are a medical software startup, and they’ve raised $60 million to develop an AIpowered system to automate paperwork for hospitals and health networks. So they’ll also be competing with the large language model. We just talked about Google’s, Med-PaLM too.

All right, last piece of news for the day. The medical field has another tool in the fight to predict genetic diseases. Google DeepMind recently, I guess, released or developed a new AI tool to help in identifying these genetic diseases. It is called Alpha Missins, and it can predict whether DNA mutations are likely to cause genetic diseases or not. It’s always fascinating, and I’ve talked about this on the show. Sectors that are really embracing AI technology and those that aren’t. The medical field is doing some amazing things with AI technology and disease prevention.

About Anne Murphy and Empowered Fundraiser

You love to see it, but you probably came here to see something else. You probably came here to talk about fundraising. So as a reminder, if you’re listening on the podcast, check your show notes a ton of great resources in there, but we always include a link back to a discussion so you can come and talk to our expert of the day and ask them questions. So it’s an interactive, everyday AI is an interactive community where we all learn AI together. So let’s do that. Let’s bring on our guest for today and talk about fundraising. So Anne Murphy is the CEO of Empowered Fundraiser consulting and coaching. Anne, thank you so much for joining the show.

Anne Murphy [00:03:40]:

Thanks for having me, Jordan. I’m really excited about the conversation today, especially because we share a background in nonprofit fundraising and I know we’re going to have a great conversation.

Jordan Wilson [00:03:52]:

Oh, it’s and, um, I think that there’s a lot of people that can relate and at least my experience. Nonprofits are great, but sometimes they don’t have all the resources. They don’t have all the funds, obviously. And unfortunately, even with technology, things can kind of be. I’m curious, what do you kind of just do? Just kind of lay the groundwork and talk a little bit about what you do at Empowered Fundraiser.

Anne Murphy [00:04:21]:

Thanks for asking. Okay, so I caught the AI bug at approximately the same time other folks did, which was it feels like 30 seconds ago. It also feels like ten years ago. I’m sure you can relate to that, but it started with my mom in Downers Grove. Like you and I have talked about, we both have Chicago roots. One way or another. She was the first person in the neighborhood to buy an Apple II. So she taught me and then she launched. She was like the OG side hustler. So I learned the benefit of being an early joiner, and I’m trying to spread that message throughout the nonprofit sector, and now I’m expanding into the private sector as well. But what our company does is we help organizations and individuals raise more money without years of trial and error because there are best practices that have been in place for a very long time. But as you know, the world has changed and some of those best practices are really outdated. We’re all practitioners. I have twelve subject matter experts and we bring what’s really working today. We do consulting, coaching, and we offer very large professional development programs for higher it, love it.

Jordan Wilson [00:05:40]:

And hey, as a reminder, everyone, because we already have some people that I know are interested here in the live stream. Get your questions in right now. So Mike saying good morning, community.

Anne Murphy [00:05:51]:

Good morning.

Ways to use AI in fundraising

Jordan Wilson [00:05:53]:

Yeah, Brian saying good morning, maverick. Super curious. Happy, happy to learn. Deborah saying that Anne brought her here. We got fans, we have connections. I love it. Brian saying nonprofits can absolutely use AI to their benefit. He works with several. Let’s start there. Let’s start with the kind of low hanging fruit to speak. But just talking generally, anne, how can nonprofits use generative AI? Or what are the best ways they can because there’s no shortage of ways, I’m sure. But if someone comes in and they’re like, anne, I work in a nonprofit, we need to raise more funds. How can I use AI? What’s that one or two sentences that you’re going to tell them?

Anne Murphy [00:06:37]:

I mean, the opportunities are endless, so it’s always a challenge for me to pick a few. I will share that I have tons of use cases ready for everybody, so just reach out to me on LinkedIn, it’s hashtag Anne Murphy Philanthropy, and I will share those. I am delighted for you all to get started on some of these. The ones that seem to be the lowest hanging fruit and make people breathe a sigh of relief, I would say, are the use cases that allow us to collaborate better. So I always say that when we’re project managing, we want to like each other even better at the end of the project. But if you think about something like event planning, we usually don’t like each other at the end of that. So doing an event plan, a strategy, the briefings, the invitation copy crunching, the data on the attendees, the mailing list, the thank you notes afterward, the talking points, you can do an entire event. I’m not saying that it plans the event for you, but all the collaboration and the deliverables can be just so streamlined and such high quality. And as you know, and lots of your listeners probably know, we can train our ChatGPT on like, let’s say your executive director is making remarks. You’ve probably written remarks for her a thousand times before you can train ChatGPT, so that the first time you kick out those remarks, they’re in the voice of your executive director. So I’ll share event planning as a use case. Very helpful. And then the other one that you and I have touched on is grant writing. It’s such a pain point. I’ll use the example of you’ve got one project and it’s a fantastic one, it’s in line with your mission, it’s got all kinds of potential to change the world. And you’re applying for six different grants. Well, each one of those RFPs has its own little twist on each question. Different word counts, different data requirements, and using a large language model, especially like with it’s not called code interpreter anymore. What is it?

Jordan Wilson [00:09:04]:

Yeah, the advanced data analysis.

Anne Murphy [00:09:07]:

Yes, they need marketing, they need some branding work. But especially with the advantage of all of the technology associated with ChatGPT and OpenAI, things like grant applications can be a breeze. I was talking to somebody the other day who had stayed up three days, three nights straight to get a grant application in because of stuff like the formatting, we don’t need to do that. We have passion glasses in the nonprofit sector, but we deserve rest, we deserve spaciousness, we deserve to like our jobs. And staying up three days in a row is not going to make us like our jobs. So grant applications are a great use case.

Balancing AI and stakeholder trust

Jordan Wilson [00:09:55]:

Yeah. And if you’re listening to this on the podcast, just my face right now is going through a whole range of emotions because everything that Anne’s talking about, it’s like I felt all these things, and they were such pain. Points. But at the time, it felt like such a labor intensive requirement to jump through all these hoops and yeah, get that ten pages down to nine and all these that seemed like silly requirements that now AI and ChatGPT, can help with tremendously. But Anne, I do want to shift a little bit and talk specifically about fundraising because anyone in the nonprofit world knows that that’s usually one of the most important parts of keeping a nonprofit going is you have to go out there and develop good relationships with highly visible stakeholders and raise money. So specifically when we talk about trust or how can people out there listening or maybe in this field tap into the power of large language models, generative AI, but still maintain or even improve trust with stakeholders when it comes to even just security of working with numbers and money? How can they do that?

Anne Murphy [00:11:12]:

Such an important question. Stakeholder trust is our bread and butter in general, right? But particularly in nonprofit profit sector where we’re asking donors to invest in our mission, it’s absolutely critical that they believe that their data, in particular, that their data is safe and secure. And that’s one of the things that we are so focused on in the nonprofit sector. And we see the data leaks in the private sector, and it really causes us to kind of retrench. The first thing I would refer people to is fundraising AI. This is a movement, actually, and includes a framework for responsible AI in fundraising. So you have your go to resource in that framework for any conversation that you’re having with donors or your Eds or your volunteers or your colleagues is, hey, this is what we do in fundraising, right? Data privacy and security explainability bias, legalities. Let’s see, there’s ten pillars and each one of those addresses like our biggest fears. So dive into the framework, you can sign it. And there’s a free summit on October 23 and 24th. Highly recommend. The speakers are awesome. But I’ll elaborate on the piece about stakeholder trust. So it makes sense that all of us are focused on, oh, my goodness, what if our donors start fearing that their data is getting leaked out or used to train the next model? Very valid concern, right? So we need to be very careful about personally identifying information. And I’ll give you an example. So in our consulting company, we don’t receive any confidential information from our clients, so we remove all the anything that can be tracked back, right? Whether it’s an ID number or a name or some other Identifier, because we want to be able to sleep at night, right. Jordan some of this stuff, we just don’t need it weighing on our head. Would it be dope to have all of the data and be able to push that into the model and come up with absolutely. But no, I don’t care what system you’re using and how sure you are that it’s confidential. Just please do not put PII into any of the models. But I will say that it’s important for us to take a bigger picture point of view because not only do our donors want us to make sure that their data is safe, they expect us to have well running business operations. Right. The nonprofit sector has a bad rap, right. Even the word nonprofit, it kind of makes it seem like we’re just kind of like, over here, la la. We don’t have business plans. We don’t have business models. We don’t use tech stacks, we don’t hire for skills. And we have the overhead myth, right? Donors want their money to go to the thing that they want to designate. And they don’t want money sometimes they don’t want money going to operations. So it is absolutely essential as our donors and volunteers whose companies and families and neighbors are using this ubiquitous technology of LLMs, we have to be doing so too. They expect us to have well functioning business ops that are efficient, effective, right. That save money, that allow us to do more. And if we’re not doing those things because we’re scared, right? It is intimidating. I don’t want to sound like I’m not empathetic, but if we’re not doing those things that our donors would expect to have a well functioning business, that’s going to hurt donor trust potentially more than any concerns about data security because we will get that part fixed, right. We will be able to communicate out. But it’s that piece. You can’t really explain having a poorly run business. You can’t make excuses for it.

Tailoring AI to different types of nonprofits

Jordan Wilson [00:15:41]:

So, yeah, diving in, it’s so funny because when you talk about the expectations, the expectations to have real business operations and kind of the myths or the conceptions around nonprofits, I would have people ask me back in the day when I’m like, oh yeah, I work at a nonprofit called Triple Threat Mentoring. That’s where I worked. And they’re like, oh, is that your job? Is that like your full time job? And it’s like, yeah, I’m managing 30 staff across four different locations across the country. Yeah, it’s a real job, right? Speaking of nonprofits, hey, there’s so many people Brian’s talking about. He’s currently working pillars for a Friends of a Library bronwyn is talking, says, wow, this is amazing. I volunteer in an animal welfare. So great comments, but a question from our audience here. So Douglas Anne is asking, what recommendations do you have to tailor know, depending on what the nonprofit focus is? So whether it’s a religious institution, healthcare, child programs, et cetera. Do you have any recommendations on how you can kind of tailor generative AI for different kind of categories?

Anne Murphy [00:16:57]:

I do, Douglas, and I’ll say I’m going to answer the question a little bit differently, which is that I think that the differentiator is actually the use cases. And in fundraising, there are going to be very similar use cases across religious, healthcare, children, open space, art, Stem. Every single nonprofit has to do a certain, probably about 80% of the same things, right? You’re going to apply for grants, you’re going to communicate with donors, you’re going to do stewardship, you’re going to do events, you’re going to do impact reports, you’re going to work with your board. They’re just standard business operations. And I would say that putting a wrapper around each of those business functions. So the wrapper is your religious organization, the wrapper is your children’s health care, et cetera. That part is easy. Really, truly. It takes a little bit of work to get your messaging set up, just like you would with any other marketing or sales or fundraising initiative. But really it’s about the use cases and perfecting those processes, whether it’s like the workflow, right? How do you work across your organization, how do you work in your verticals? How do you get yourself ready for AI? That’s the thing I would focus on. Regardless of whatever the mission of your nonprofit, I would begin getting ready for AI. So organize your stuff, right? I’m not talking about being super detail-oriented about it, but have your different Google Drive folders all set, have your email platforms ready, have your CRM ready to have automations connected. So doing those things now, I say going slow to go fast. So start preparing to build in some of those operations and you will be in really good shape when the tsunami hits. Jordan, you didn’t mention, but one of the things that’s going to blow everybody’s mind, I think honestly this week, is the addition of the extensions to Google Bard that’ll allow us essentially now our Google Drives are like ChatGPT. It’s like a chatbot. And I think for those in nonprofit, if you’re not using Google and you’re using Microsoft, you’ll need to wait a little while for copilot to come out. But once it does, you’ll have the same.

The future of AI in fundraising

Jordan Wilson [00:19:43]:

I can’t wait for that. And it’s actually pure coincidence that I’m showing a comment right now from someone that works in Microsoft philanthropy. That’s beside the point. But one thing that you said there and which is so fascinating, go slow to go fast. And there can’t be a truer statement, I think, when it comes to generative AI in large language models, it’s something that we teach all the time in our prime prompt polish. Our free PPP course is if you just want generative AI to be a shortcut, that’s not how it works. You do have to put in a little bit of work up front, kind of going to Douglas’s point about kind of creating these different wrappers you have to put the time in. So thanks for that question, Douglas. That was great. And we actually have another question from a former everyday AI. Guest, which you got to go check out Yogesh’s show. It was amazing. So Yogesh is asking, what do you see as the future of fundraising? And I’m guessing kind of inferring as it pertains to AI.

Anne Murphy [00:20:48]:

As it pertains to AI. So I do predict the same thing that folks are talking about in the other sectors, which is that the folks who are not using AI. Will just their jobs are going to fade away. And so while you and I were joking about that, when you go to college, the professors are rumored to say, look to your right, look to your left. And only one of you or something like one of the three of you will still be here in six months. I do not like being a doomsayer, but I will say that all signals indicate that we are not going to need as many of us in marketing, right? Hi, Tyler. We’re not going to need as many of us in marketing. And so some of those jobs will fade away. And my passion is for folks who currently are in marginalized groups to seize the power of this technology and be the leaders in AI. Right? Be the one to raise your hand and say, I want to be on the AI council, right? I want to go to this $27 training. I’m going to watch Jordan’s show every single morning, and I’m going to become the person that people go to. So I’m super passionate about the power structure in nonprofit. And to Yogesh’s question, I do believe that the power imbalance is going to write itself a little bit, right? We’ve got donors, we’ve got Eds, we’ve got fundraisers. We’ve always perceived it to be like this. I believe that this is going to provide the fundraisers, the opportunity to work on common ground because we’re going to be such efficient leaders and communicators about our organization. We’re going to stand out. But the future of fundraising, let me say one more thing about that, is I do believe that the future of nonprofit fundraising workforce will absolutely require that we embrace AI. Gen z is not joining organizations that are old school. So we talk about donor retention. I’m talking about our workforce retention. We have to make this an attractive career path. It’s not an attractive career path if we’re sitting around saying we’re not going to use AI. So dive in. This is a recruiting tool. You’re giving people the opportunity to rise above. Do it. Gen Z in.

How to start using AI in fundraising

Jordan Wilson [00:23:27]:

Such a good point, Anne, because that’s another struggle. I would say from my background, being the executive director of operations for a nonprofit is, one, fundraising, and two, attracting a lot of times you want to bring in kind of the next generation of passionate employees who can help push your organization forward. It’s two huge issues, and I love that you address both of them right there. So we’ve been a little bit all over. I think we’ve uncovered so many great pieces of insights and intel in this conversation. But what would your one last takeaway be? So you’ve piqued someone’s interest and they’re like, okay, we talked about a lot someone’s in a nonprofit. What’s your one piece of advice for them to start using generative AI today in their nonprofit organization.

Anne Murphy [00:24:27]:

So we did this yesterday in a training. Make a list of the things that you don’t like to do and then make a list of the things that you do like to do. In the list of things you don’t like to do, it’s going to be a bunch of stuff that a large language model can help you with. Right? It’s going to be the grant writing, the grant application, rewriting the letters, the routine communication, the writing, the newsletter and hitting the deadline. So make a list of the things that you don’t like doing. Again, this goes back to retention. You deserve to like your job. You deserve to like your job. You dive in with one example of addressing something that you don’t like to do. I would love and Jordan, I’m sure this happens with you, I would love to hear from any member of your audience about a Use case that they’ve decided to dive into, like DM me on LinkedIn. Let me know. Did you start with an annual fund letter? Did you start with an Impact? Oh, God. An impact report. Beautiful Use case. Did you start with a newsletter article? So I would say again, make that list things you don’t like to do and start knocking them out one by one. Start with one.

Jordan Wilson [00:25:38]:

Yeah. It’s similar advice I always give out is don’t pay attention to all the shiny things that are going on in the world of AI. See where you’re spending your time and see where those manual tasks are. Especially in the nonprofit world. Those things stack up quickly just because sometimes access to technology and information is costly and it’s something nonprofits struggle with.

Anne Murphy [00:26:04]:

And this is free. It’s free currently, right?

Jordan Wilson [00:26:10]:

Yeah, currently it’s free or extremely affordable. Right? Like even something like GPT plus at $20 a month, even nonprofits on a budget, I think can afford that. Thank you so much for joining us. We covered a lot. But don’t worry, we’re going to be sharing a lot more in our daily newsletter. So, Ann, thank you again for coming on the everyday AI show and talking everything AI and fundraising.

Anne Murphy [00:26:36]:

Absolutely. So happy to be here. Invite anybody to reach out to me. I’ll help however I can.

Jordan Wilson [00:26:42]:

Absolutely. Hey, and we did cover a lot. We were talking specific dates and specific conferences, all that. Don’t worry it’s all going to be in the daily newsletter. So that and more, we’re going to recap. And that’s the other thing. If you’re listening on the podcast, you got to sign up for the newsletter. Go to your Everyday.com. We break everything down. We spend so much time breaking everything down and making sense of all the noise that’s happening in the world of AI. And then really, with our daily discussions giving you the key takeaways and more, I’m actually going to drop in a couple unrelated things with nonprofits. So if you’re in nonprofits, make sure you check out today’s newsletter and make sure you check out the rest of the shows this week on Everyday AI. Thank you for joining us.

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