Tag Archives: AI

AI in Fundraising? The Pros and Cons of Artificial Intelligence

By Abigail Harmon

ChatGPT writes commercials for Ryan Reynolds, papers for college students, essays written by AI detectors for professors, and can even pass MBA and med school tests. Image AI is under scrutiny for being able to gather so many images that it infringes upon copyright laws.

Meta and Google know that they are already behind with AI, so they have already begun beta testing their Chat AI. Microsoft announced it will add it to Bing. (If it is impacting Bing, you know AI is far-reaching.)

But how about AI in fundraising? 

The Pros:

  1. You are already using AI in fundraising if you use prospect research. All that amazing data you see when you use IWaveDonorSearch, and Candid is culled through Artificial Intelligence. Not to mention when they recommend your best prospects or hidden gems. 
  2. You can use ChatGPT to write a first draft for direct mail. I tried it by asking the software to create a fundraising email for a nonprofit Jewish sleepaway camp. And the result was really impressive. But, it is not ready to send. It is missing essential elements of a strong direct mail piece, like anything about the specific camp(s). But it is a nice way to start a first draft if you hate writing. Seriously, only use it for a first draft. Our client, the Cohen Camps, could send this letter, but so could 100 other Jewish sleepaway camps. 
  3. You can use ChatGPT to gather information on anything. Think about the information you could find about donors, prospects, and foundations. Could AI in fundraising be helpful for events, stewardship, and birthday card ideas? Yes, it is brainstorming without the group. Of course, that also means you didn’t use the brainstorming with board leaders and donors as a stewardship opportunity. 
  4. Online Chatbots are amazing when helpful but annoying when you want something really personalized or uniquely sophisticated. I’ll let you decide whether to use it, but Chatbots are obviously powered by AI.

The Cons:

  1. If you get lazy and overly reliant upon AI in fundraising, you will quickly become a terrible fundraiser. If 100 camps use the same prompt, they will have similar letters in a similar order with similar content. Unlike me, most people might only receive solicitations to one Jewish summer camp. But if someone is interested in youth development, food insecurity, the arts, colleges, etc., they will likely support more than one. And that same letter or email will be noticed.
  2. You will waste time. Think about a recent hour lost to a Google search (what does that prospect look like?), a TikTok binge (what is that tofu-cucumber air fryer app?), or Facebook (I just want to say Happy birthday to a friend). Like those examples, AI in fundraising can be super fun but all too often sends you down a rabbit hole for an hour.
  3. There are currently no ethical boundaries. You can receive writing or images that have a copyright without any idea that is the case. Just because you change around a few words, doesn’t make it yours. As in the Getty Images lawsuit linked in the first paragraph.
  4. I just went to test it out and received the equivalent of a busy signal. For anyone who doesn’t know what that is, click here. But like any technology, we begin to rely on it and when it is not there, we start to freak out. Like when my meeting alert didn’t go off last week and I was late to a Zoom.

If you have read this far, you are wondering if you should use AI in your fundraising. I will make you an offer. If you create an email or letter using AI technology, and send it to me, I can look through and show you what I think is missing from it. That is assuming you want to make it a unique, dynamic letter that will help you raise money. 

If you have already used ChatGPT to create an email or letter and you have turned it into a masterpiece, send that too.  I am happy to ooh and ahh about it. Sometimes all we need is a little validation.