How AI and ML are Changing the Way We Fundraise for Greater Social Impact

Broadly speaking, AI and its most popular subset, machine learning (ML), can be harnessed for social good.

If you Google “AI (fill in the blank social cause)” and you will find the countless ways AI is making the world a better place. To name a few, AI is helping scientists tackle climate change, healthcare providers solve health crisis’, police combat crime, researchers detect cancer, global leaders solve poverty, and multi-disciplinary teams fight human trafficking.

What you might not know is that AI and ML are also changing the way charities fundraise for greater social impact.


How are AI and ML changing the way charities fundraise?

Let me start by saying that ‘nonprofit’ is simply a tax status, not the way they do business. Similar to profitable corporations, nonprofits have just as great of a potential to utilize AI and ML to improve operations. Nonprofits can partner with the power of AI to spend less on fundraising and more on mission advancement.

In general, the use of AI assistants to automate fundraising efficiency is redefining and lowering the cost associated with donor acquisition and increasing retention of new donors, in less time than ever thought possible.

How? AI assistants do this by developing and applying algorithms to ingest, clean, enrich, and then search through large amounts of donor data to recognize patterns and give non-intuitive recommendations to nonprofit teams. Nonprofit staff can then apply judgment and context to select from those recommendations the right donor and message. With the right message, nonprofits can produce fewer unwanted “noisy” appeals, and more personable, relatable messages to prospective donors about causes that align with their interests. 


We are seeing AI-driven fundraising help early nonprofit adaptors: 

  1. Acquire new lifetime donors more quickly, efficiently and inexpensively.
  2. Maximize time spent supporting their donors and peer-to-peer fundraisers. 
  3. Provide insights from donor data points and connections that are not obvious or intuitive to their staff without an unrealistically high investment of time and training.
  4. Produce clean and enriched donor data for a more precise view of their supporters.
  5. Engage donors from their social networks with the right messaging.


Consider how AI can take a common fundraising channel like peer-to-peer (P2P) to the next level. An AI fundraising assistant can safely and securely analyze a nonprofit’s donor and supporter database and then identify the best donor prospects in their networks. Then, an AI assistant can provide a nonprofit with custom email templates that allow the nonprofit to send personalized, relevant messages with a click of a button. With the help of an AI assistant, nonprofits can engage and activate new P2P donors with confidence and ease. 

That is just one channel! AI and ML are accelerating the other most common fundraising channels as well. Board fundraising. Capital campaigns. Direct mail. Email campaigns. Crowdfunding. Galas. “A-thons”. You name it. AI and ML are changing the way charities reach the right donors more quickly, creating an even greater impact for their missions. 


An example of AI-driven fundraising

In 2016, boodleAI was founded on this idea of bringing AI technology to nonprofits for the purpose of accelerating its focus on mission impact rather than fundraising.  In addition to directly supporting nonprofits, boodleAI was created to help individual fundraisers and profitable companies amplify their support for charity like never before. boodleAI was built to find new donors who will become lifetime donors in perpetuity, thus impacting the organization both tactically and strategically for years to come. 

One stunning example of this is the Code of Support Foundation (CoSF). See how starting each Monday morning with a cup of coffee and boodleAI emails led CoSF board chair, Alan Salisbury, to a $10,000 gift.

The ethos with which boodleAI’s Founding Team established the organization was one of altruistic desire to do good with AI. It is this same ethos with which we expect to see nonprofits, corporations and individuals alike raising more funds with AI for an even greater social impact


Where to start

Consider how you or the organization you work for could partner with a nonprofit to accelerate its fundraising efforts with AI:

  • Donate funds specifically for a charity to afford an AI fundraising platform
  • Use an AI fundraising platform yourself to raise funds from your network to maximize the benefit for your charity of choice
  • If you have it, volunteer your AI expertise to a nonprofit in need