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The Case for Adopting AI-Powered Data Analysts for Fundraising

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There are strong signals that Artificial Intelligence (AI) will revolutionize most industries dominated by information workers. The impact of AI on fundraising is anticipated to be equally transformative.

Many fundraisers are already excited about the potential of AI to personalize messaging and develop a broader range of content for their supporters. Most organizations have experimented with these capabilities, and many mainstream fundraising platforms are starting to incorporate some AI features into their products, making them widely available.

However, the application of AI with the potential to deliver the greatest return on investment lies in its use in analyzing and interpreting fundraising data. Nonprofits typically store dozens or hundreds of data points relative to their donors.

Crunching/analyzing this data to target appeals more precisely to increase giving, identify potential mid-level and major donors you may be missing, and spot new giving trends and patterns can be done exponentially faster with the help of AI.

Your organization likely has several individuals whose intelligence and experience together form valuable intuition regarding patterns related to donor’s interactions with your organization, giving likelihood, giving capacity, and why the types of gifts they have made indicate future giving, etc. They probably also have insights on the optimal times to appeal to specific donor types and other engaged individuals who have not donated yet.

These intuitions, honed through years of relationship-building and experience, often guide strategies and campaigns. However, the real challenge is seamlessly validating and amplifying these intuitions with data-driven insights, especially when time is critical. Extracting, analyzing and applying this data can be a Herculean effort, requiring specialized skills and sometimes weeks of effort.

New research is being released frequently around giving trends and patterns, information that could be assimilated into your organization’s strategy if you had the ability to map them to your donor data.

For example, FREEWILL has recently presented some insightful research on giving patterns across different generations, such as the Silent Generation and Baby Boomers. Most major CRM’s don’t categorize donors by generation, so mapping these insights to your data would likely require significant manual processing.

If any of the above work is being accomplished, it often requires consultants and IT resources whose primary deliverables end up being expensive reports.

The proper application of AI can eliminate missed fundraising opportunities. With the right AI powered tool, complex analyses can be completed exponentially faster and with much less strain on your team, keeping them sharp and fresh for donor interactions.

XPRESS ANALYTICS

Xpress Analytics enables you to interact with your data as if you were in a room full of dedicated data analysts. You can interact in plain English, just as you would with a human team member via conversation or email. The key difference is that the AI data analyst typically responds within about 10 seconds, compared to the unpredictable response times from IT, your busy advancement services team, or consultant.

Your AI analysts, like your humans, won’t be perfect, but the 10-second response time makes all the difference. You can quickly iterate through ideas, delve deeper into your data for new insights, or get answers so much faster than with any other method. This will undoubtedly be a game-changer for your organization delivering one of the fastest returns on investment of any technology your organization has ever implemented.

How hard is implementation? Getting started is easy. Your team can start using the platform almost immediately. Once you have identified the most valuable data from your systems, Xpress analytics can automate daily data refreshes if you find that helpful.

In most cases, this type of analysis does not require daily data updates. Weekly or even monthly updates are usually sufficient.

You’re not limited to using your AI platform solely for fundraising. This type of analysis can also provide tremendous value in analyzing operational or financial data.

There are a number of companies that purport to let you leverage AI to interact with your data. Consider there are three critical factors when exploring options:

  1. Will your data will be shared with one of the AI Companies Large Language Models that power these services?It’s essential to ensure that your fundraising, donor, patient, student, etc. data is not incorporated into the learning base of future AI model versions.

  2.  How many models are being used/are available? 
    Relying on just one or a few models from a single family of models isn’t enough. There is no one best model or AI company right now. Different models are better at answering certain types of questions and delivering specific insights. You can work more efficiently with AI data analysts when you can switch between multiple models to find the one that can deliver the best and quickest answer.

  3. Can you see their work? 
    If you were receiving help from a human data analyst, you likely would not take the results at face value. You would probably ask them how they arrived at their answer to ensure they understood your request properly. You should expect the same level of transparency from your AI data analysts. It is likely the only way to feel confident that you are on the right track with your analysis. This part of the human process shouldn't change when you're leveraging technology, especially AI.

THE GOOD NEWS...

The good news is that if this newly enhanced ability to analyze data, follow your team’s intuition, and incorporate new ideas into your fundraising process can deliver even a nominal increase to your fundraising results, and there is no reason to think it will not, you will receive a positive return on investment. If the magnitude of revenue increase is just a few percentage points, the ROI could easily be in the hundreds of percent.

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