The Acceleration of the High-Speed AI Train
Over the past several months there has been a slowly growing rumble around Artificial Intelligence (AI).
An infusion into every day work.
A quiet march of new ideas in my social media feeds.
The Rise of the AI Explosion
The week after Thanksgiving I was regaling a colleague with a family dinner story and he suggested I write a book. When I looked at him like he had three heads, he asked if I had tried ChatGPT. When I typed in a synopsis of my story the platform spat back out a 12 chapter book outline.
Just before the holidays, some of my friends started posting AI generated pictures of themselves and with curiosity, I paid my $7.99 and had a set made of myself in holiday garb. They were cute and looked *just* enough like me that I could update my profile pictures without getting off my sofa or putting on makeup.
And when I got back from my holiday break… Accessible AI was EVERYWHERE. All over my feeds. In every personal conversation. Like we were all peeking up at an alien spaceship wondering how it had gotten over earth without our noticing.
Truth be told, AI isn’t new. Conversations and theoretical studies around AI trace back to the 1950s and the very first chatbot, named ELIZA, was created by Joseph Weizenbaum in 1967. Throughout the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, and even early 2000’s, AI was slowly growing in the background. Something we rarely talked about – until in 2011 when IBM’s Watson defeated human champions on Jeopardy. And our ears started to perk up – just a little bit.
Today we have powerful computers in our pockets. Devices in our homes that can play music, control lighting, and start vacuuming with a voice command. My email reminds me I haven’t gotten back to someone recently and my phone opens with my face. And that is all AI.
Applications of AI Technology
By simple definition, AI is the simulation of human intelligence processes by machines. These include expert systems, natural language processing, speech recognition and machine vision. The most commonly used type of machine learning is a type of AI that learns A to B, or input to output mappings. This is called supervised learning.
And there are lots of applications, as seen in my examples above, but what I am most excited about for our fundraising universe is what’s possible with large language models (LLMs) – the most popular of which is ChatGPT. My excitement comes not only around the possibility of a family tell-all, but of what it can do to change the way we approach our fundraising work. I actually asked ChatGPT for some applications and got back some great ideas:
1. Improved Communication: ChatGPT can help nonprofits improve their communication with their audience, whether it’s their donors, volunteers, or beneficiaries. By providing quick and accurate responses to queries and concerns, ChatGPT can help nonprofits build trust and strengthen their relationships with their audience.
2. Cost-Effective: ChatGPT can provide cost-effective solutions to nonprofits that need to communicate with their audience in real-time. Instead of hiring additional staff to manage communication, nonprofits can use ChatGPT to handle basic queries and tasks.
3. 24/7 Availability: ChatGPT can provide nonprofits with 24/7 availability to their audience. This means that donors, volunteers, and beneficiaries can get in touch with the nonprofit at any time, which can be particularly useful in emergency situations.
4. Time-Saving: ChatGPT can save nonprofits time by handling basic queries and tasks. This allows nonprofits to focus on more complex tasks that require human intervention, such as fundraising and program development.
5. Increased Engagement: ChatGPT can help nonprofits increase engagement with their audience by providing personalized responses and recommendations. This can help nonprofits build stronger relationships with their audience and increase their impact.
And all of that is awesome and super exciting to support the writing side of our work. How amazing to be able to shorten the writing cycle or increase engagement with the right language. To craft social media messaging quickly. To tick off an acknowledgement letter.
NOW – what I am really excited about is the possibility of using tools like ChatGPT in conjunction with what is known as middle layer modeling because they allow for layering of data. And data is an essential part of the work we do as fundraisers.
The Game Changer
Fundraising is the great equalizer of our time. It allows an opportunity for those with means to actively support organizations that are making a difference in something they care about in big and small ways. It is about relationships and craft and asking and messaging. Nonprofits make up 5.7% of the GDP and raise almost $450 billion annually – typically with no exchange of goods – only faith in the ability to make a difference.
But it is also a day to day numbers game. X dollars from X people to reach X goals to help X impact.
We need to know who can give, at what level, and we need to ask a certain amount of people a certain amount of times in order to reach our critical annual and major goals. This seems like no small feat, in fact it is a massive undertaking.
boodleAI recently launched our public building of a middle layer LLM, which we have dubbed boodleGPT. The first iteration of boodleGPT will be a chat interface layered upon an LLM, trained initially to work with nonprofits. Another layer will leverage boodle’s database of 35 billion insights to provide prospect lists for expanding outreach opportunities. And the third, my personal favorite, will allow organizations to bring in their OWN data from their CRM AND language from their letters, case for support, and other collateral.
The Many Responses to the Rise of AI
As we develop this technology, and watch the rise of a multitude of other opportunities, I have seen three distinct responses. First, there are those who are excited enough to try ALL THE THINGS and are ready to start using everything – right now. Second, there are those who are curious, but skeptical – they might make an AI generated profile picture or try a few lines in ChatGPT, but they need more information before they fully commit. And third, those who would rather this train stop at the next station.
Regardless of how you might categorize yourself, the opportunity to incorporate this new technology into fundraising work is there for the taking. We see boodleGPT as a fundraising and marketing assistant – something that takes some of the pressure off your to-do list and allows for you to do what you love – talk to people about the amazing work happening within your organization.
I too was skeptical at the beginning of this year, firmly in group 2, but after lots of thinking and reading, and more thinking and more reading, I realized that this new revolution gives me one more set of tools. One more way to look at my life’s work with a different lens. Once I started to play with ChatGPT, I couldn’t stop thinking about all the ways boodleGPT is going to be able to help fundraisers with everything from communications prompts, to planning, to, eventually, seeing donor potential in a completely different way. I remembered back to my days in an Annual Giving role and how long it took me to pull reports to analyze for planning. What if I could have just asked for what I needed instead of building queries inside queries inside spreadsheets?
How to Start Your AI Exploration
There are lots of questions still out there about ethics, privacy, burn-out… and they all need to continue as we explore the unknown. Have those conversations in your own head, with your teams, and in community. We will all be better for them.
Ready to give it a go? I’d recommend the following as helpful getting started steps:
- Visit ChatGPT and start testing out prompts (and if you are stuck, check out this CauseVox article to get you going).
- Create your next presentation using beautiful.ai
- Give Grammarly a shot at proofreading your next letter
- Subscribe to our nonpartisan LinkedIn newsletter to get snippets of what is happening day by day in the world of AI news
- And if you’re curious about boodleGPT and what it could do for your organization, join the waitlist below to begin exploring the possibilities.