What does AI mean for your not-for-profit?

08 Feb 2024

The concept of AI in the workplace has been steadily gaining traction for some time. What does AI mean, what can it do, and how might this affect your not-for-profit (NFP) organisation? Are you feeling nervous, confused, or finding the rapid growth of AI daunting? You are not alone, but the great news is AI can help make your life easier and your time more effective. This article highlights some useful free resources and adds a welcome perspective on the use of AI for the NFP sector in New Zealand.

What actually is AI? Put simply, it is an advanced form of technology, that uses machine learning to mimic human intelligence. Generally, it presents itself as an app or a website extension for a particular purpose.

In a recent report of 1,020 NFPs across New Zealand and Australia, adoption of AI tools has doubled since 2022, with one in four organisations making use of generative AI tools, such as ChatGPT.* Generally, these tools are used to help manage donor or prospect data, help with data analysis and help improve or create content for communication channels. There’s no doubt that using AI make fundraisers more efficient at certain parts of their jobs. But, if the technology is new to you, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. Below are a few of our top recommendations to help you leverage the power of this incredible technology.

  • A great email title can be a make or break for a donor getting to the content of your message. SEMrush Title Generator is an AI-powered tool that helps you craft reader-centric and SEO-friendly titles.
  • OwlyWriter excels for social media caption generation, and Frase uses machine learning to make a highlighted section of text SEO friendly – this helps the page index more highly on google, and therefore more people see your website!
  • For campaign and appeal content without budget for a professional photoshoot, dall=e generates natural images from a written description. If you’re feeling like some of your hand-out leaflets or posters are a little dated, typeset creates beautiful visual material as you type.
  • For data analysis, FormulaGod is an extension to an Excel sheet, that allows you to type questions and see answers – without the need to know the correct formula. This is a huge help when it comes to segmenting or analysing donor records.

It is understandable that some may see the wider adoption of tools such as these as replacing the art of creativity, perhaps even creating a dishonest shortcut to the end goal without having to put in the mahi to get there. At this point, we invite you to reframe this thought; just like using stones to make knives, or replacing handwriting with a printing press, this is a logical next step in the evolution of tools, helping us get to the end goal in the most efficient way possible.

Once mastered, AI tools can sharpen up your ways of working, so that you can spend less resource on time-consuming tasks and more time on doing the real work. The tools listed above, amongst many others in the market, can free up time and resource to help your team prioritise developing relationships and fostering genuine connections with donors in the communities that you serve.

Machines and technology will never be able to master subtle nuances regarding the ethics of certain types of content and will always need a review from a human eye. Additionally, there is no long-term relationship-building AI tool, (to date that we know of!).

Technology enhanced by artificial intelligence can only ever be one of many tools in a fundraiser’s toolkit. Fundamentally, fundraising is about human-to-human connection. The use of machine learning tools or artificial intelligence will never be able to take this place.

If you’re planning to start using AI to help you achieve your fundraising goals, we encourage you to see this as part of your wider digital communication strategy and not an isolated add-on.

For further reading, we recommend the Google AI for social good guide. This guide details the basics of using and understanding AI for your charitable cause and includes interactive demos that really showcase the potential of machine learning.

If you would like more information about how The Fundraising Agency can help with your fundraising strategy, please get in touch today.

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