The future of Non-Profits in the age of Artificial Intelligence- Part 2

Time- 3-4 minutes

The Economist claims that data is the oil of the digital era, and rightly so.  If Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Microsoft are the five most valuable firms in the world, then we can confidently establish that data is the king.

Artificial intelligence(AI) learns from data to train algorithms that we use to make intelligent decisions. It learns from patterns and behaviors. Just like humans need healthy food to stay fit, AI “needs to be fed” a large amount of accurate data to function accurately. Any inconsistencies in the data will be visible in the results you get from AI.

“Fast processes and lots of clean data are key to the success of AI”- Ruseell Glenister, CEO and founder of Curation Zone

If you search anything related to artificial intelligence on Google, you will be inundated with the number of articles on its definitions, its application in the workplace, the way it’s transforming our lives and so on. According to a report by PwC,  the AI market is projected to reach $70 billion by 2020, ready to revolutionize the consumer, enterprise and government markets around the world. However, there is only a little research done on how artificial intelligence can be used in Non-profit organisations.

So, how exactly can AI be used for the benefits of non-profit organisations?

1. Administration– AI can help non-profits get routine repetitive administrative and financial tasks done in less time and with fewer people. It can process and analyse a large number of data sets in less time with less computation leading to a reduction in error. In fact, using AI for routine administrative activities is its most basic and least expensive use. It can gather data from emails and call center systems and use it to update donor records with a name and address change, payment methods, communication preferences, donations or event attendance. It can also facilitate monthly donation cycles by transferring information from various documents. Most of these tasks can be done without human intervention, reducing IT spending and errors caused by fatigue.

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2. Fundraising– Gravyty is named as the number #1 fundraising idea that worked in strengthening an NFP’s relationships with its donors. It uses AI and Machine Learning to design customised, donor-centric emails for a frontline fundraiser and NFP’s. Gravyty applies 17 lead scoring algorithms to write the first draft of an email for a frontline fundraiser to a prospect or a donor. What lead scoring does is it scores the donors on their propensity to donate such as from a very low propensity to donate to a very high propensity to donate. In doing so it simplifies the task of communicating with donors, making it possible for even the administrative staff and the volunteers capable of performing it. It’s worth noting that Gravyty is not the only application that does this. There are others like Salsa Labs, Kindful and Donor Perfect that provide similar services.

3. Communication– Chatbots have become the most common tool for conversations on websites, telephone and text messaging. AI-based Chatbots can help visitors with customer service 24/7, in directing them to donation pages, upcoming events or in scheduling appointments. It can also set reminders for you or for your entire team on a messaging platform such as the Slackbot does. It can facilitate an introduction between the teams and also book travel for your donors. In certain cases, the health treatment recommendations systems can provide customised health care plans by taking into consideration the individual patient’s health status and previous treatments (Moon Shot Project,2013).

Another form of AI-powered communication is the Crises Text Line. The hotline uses an ensemble of deep neural networks to help people in crises through text messaging (SMS). The counselor on the other end of the line use research-backed approach to help the de-escalate the crises. AI along with Natural Language Processing technology is used to find patterns and information in communication, increasing the effectiveness of conversations.

4. Marketing- As I wrote in my previous post, Artificial intelligence will nurture true data-driven marketing in the form of a more personalized educated marketing process and streamlined operations, in a cost and time effective manner. According to Lindsay Tjepkema, “Artificial intelligence marketing (AI Marketing) is a method of leveraging customer data and AI concepts like machine learning to anticipate your customer’s next move and improve the customer journey.”  

AI can be used to create personalised marketing campaigns for all kinds of groups such as creating a personalised educational campaign for students in disadvantaged areas and adapting the same educational campaign to reach potential tutors who would be interested in teaching these students. Not only can AI help you reach a particular customer segment but it can help you create targeted campaigns for each individual with a different ask. All this will be driven by using the deluge of data that we have available. AI is not only useful at the beginning of the donor journey but also during and after they have donated.

For non-profit organisations, a donor’s loyalty towards their cause is integral. However, most of the NFP’s continue to make the mistake of sending generic emails to all their donors without any personalisation. Donor retention can only be achieved by engaging these donors and maintaining an emotional connection with them after they have donated. It can be done by using social-demographic data such as communicating with them on social media platforms, sending targeted emails on how they are making a difference, using geo-targeting for delivering content based on their geographic locations, and providing them personalised incentives for being loyal donors. Remember a loyal donor is also a proud supporter who will spread the word about your great cause. Use your data and recognise repeat donors. Recognition is one of the biggest rewards you can give to your donors.

Comment below to share your ideas on how NFP’s can use AI for a greater impact.

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