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Harnessing AI in Fundraising to Create Responsive Donor Experiences

Donor experiences are pivotal to deepening relationships. Here’s how AI in fundraising can help. Nonprofits looking for newer and better ways to enhance their donor experiences. Especially for organizations that are already strapped for resources, AI in fundraising streamlines tasks, freeing up staff time for what truly matters: building stronger, more personal connections with donors. Follow along as we unpack everything you need to know about AI in fundraising and how you can use these tools to create thoughtfully engaging and responsive donor experiences.

In recent years, we’ve witnessed an accelerated shift toward cutting-edge digital solutions. At the forefront of this innovation is artificial intelligence—made mainstream by the likes of ChatGPT and Gemini. For nonprofits, AI in fundraising promises not only to streamline internal operations but also to maximize outcomes.

Even though AI in fundraising brings both curiosity and apprehension, nonprofits are proceeding with caution. While some have ethical concerns about data usage, the biggest hurdle may be a lack of internal expertise to leverage these tools effectively.

With donors expecting more personalized giving experiences and one-size-fits-all methods not resonating the way they used to, AI for nonprofits steps in to bridge this gap.

The Quick Rundown on AI in Fundraising

For-profit companies have successfully integrated AI into their strategies, setting a high bar for customer experiences. Between Amazon’s personalized product recommendations and Chewy’s convenient auto-ship services, consumers—aka your donors—have grown accustomed to these tailored interactions.

So, what does that mean for nonprofits? While the benefits for businesses might be easily recognized, the potential of AI for fundraising can often be a gray area.

AI in fundraising is about leveraging this sophisticated technology to:

  • Understand your donors: AI analyzes donor data to uncover their passions, giving habits, and preferred communication styles.
  • Engage more effectively: With this knowledge, you can craft personalized messages and outreach that resonate with each individual supporter.
  • Retain loyal donors: Foster stronger connections, leading to increased loyalty and repeat donations.
  • Maximize your impact: AI helps you focus your resources on the most promising fundraising avenues, ultimately making a bigger difference with the resources you have.

“We think about AI a lot for accelerated personalization with donors. Where that’s super helpful is if you can predict the next response from a person, that is incredibly powerful. We can better predict responses that allow us to send the right communication at the right time with the right ask increases average gift, increases response rate, and allows us to spend less money on fundraising and marketing while accelerating generosity,” explains Gabe Cooper, CEO of Virtuous, explains in a webinar on the responsive maturity model.

The Role of Donor Experiences in Fundraising

In our fast-paced, digital-first environment, the donor experience has become the foundation for a lasting relationship. More and more nonprofits are strategically expanding their digital fundraising approach. The reason: Digital-first nonprofits are growing 12.7% faster than the average nonprofit, per research from NextAfter. The same study references the accelerated five-year growth of online vs. offline major donor revenue, 58%, and 16%, respectively.

Embracing digital is more than about staying relevant—it’s more about meeting donors where they are. With the average person spending more than six hours online every day, it’s clear that digital channels, like websites and social media, are where a significant part of life happens.

This is more prevalent as more younger donors come into the fold and Millennials replace Baby Boomers as the dominant giving demographic. Millennials, some of whom are already in their 40s, are entering their prime spending years. Not only are they hitting the peak of their careers, but we are also in the middle of The Great Wealth Transfer, an era when Baby Boomers are expected to transfer up to $90 trillion to their Gen X and Millennial children.

While only a select group of donors will pass on significant wealth to their children, this should encourage you to put plans in motion, if you haven’t already, to engage the younger generations of donors. By crafting exceptional donor experiences that are digitally focused and personalized, you’ll capture their attention and cultivate lifelong supporters.

Thoughtfully Crafted Responsive Donor Experiences Using AI in Fundraising

AI in fundraising is opening up new opportunities for nonprofits to interact with donors. For many organizations working with tighter budgets, leveraging AI is a smart choice, as it creates more efficiencies, freeing up valuable staff time to focus on building deeper, more personalized relationships with donors.

Not only that, AI-powered tools can help nonprofits glean actionable insights from donor data. This data can then be used to make data-driven decisions about their fundraising and donor engagement strategies, maximizing their impact with every dollar raised.

In the following sections, we’ll explore some applications of AI in fundraising and what nonprofits can gain from harnessing this technology. From personalized donor communications to predictive analytics for strategic planning, we’ll uncover how AI can transform traditional fundraising approaches into more responsive, data-driven operations.

CRM Intelligence That Provides Tactical Clarity

Modern nonprofit CRM software has evolved past purely data collection tools. Drawing data intelligence from these AI-powered tools, nonprofits can unlock learnings about donor behavior, preferences, and engagement patterns. This will give organizations the actionable insights they need to make more informed decisions about their fundraising strategies.

With responsive software like Virtuous BI, CRM analytics are at the forefront, allowing your team to customize reporting dashboards to suit its needs. From broad-stroked metrics like overall giving to more nuanced data analysis like pledge performance or major giving breakdowns, you can now gain a comprehensive understanding of your fundraising efforts.

These insights help tailor your approaches, identify areas for improvement, and strategically allocate resources for maximum impact. But you don’t have to be a super-savvy data scientist to use this business intelligence tool to its full potential. Virtuous BI comes with pre-built best practices reports that can be filtered and customized to your liking.

Best Practice Report Libraries with Virtuous BI

Having the ability to simplify data dashboards was critical for organizations like A Kid’s Place Tampa Bay, especially when you have several team members in the system.

“You don’t want to make it super complicated to find data or create more work for your team. And I think that’s really one of the great things about the dashboard. It truly is customizable to everyone,” says Samantha Mellon, Director of Development of A Kid’s Place Tampa Bay.

Automated Donor Journeys

The way you interact with your supporters has a dramatic impact on their experience and their giving. Putting automated donor journeys into action, your organization can foster a connection that starts the moment someone discovers your cause and extends far beyond the initial donation.

Whether it’s acknowledging loyal donors, welcoming new supporters, or re-engaging lapsed contributors, marketing automation for nonprofits helps deliver targeted communications for each segment.

Here’s how:

  • Tailored content: CRM analytics can ensure that each supporter receives information and appeals that not only are relevant but also echo their passions, making every interaction more engaging and meaningful.
  • The right message at the right time: AI tools can predict ideal moments to connect with each donor. For example, sending birthday greetings or updates on projects they care about.
  • Nurturing engagement: A responsive CRM for nonprofits helps you automate tasks like sending thank-you emails and follow-up messages. Leverage data filters to drill down on specific donor characteristics like donation history, event attendance, and affinity areas.

“If they had given in the last year, we talked to their recent support, and if they hadn’t we reminded them in the letter. We used merge tags to include the date of when their last gift was given to help personalize it further,” says Heather Thompson, Chief Development Officer of Norwescap.

By taking advantage of CRM automation, you have donors who feel like true partners in your cause. This translates to recurring donations, longer-lasting donor relationships, and a more fruitful future for your nonprofit.

Social Listening Tools

Social listening tools are transforming the way nonprofits understand their audience and tailor their outreach. Because of how much time people are spending online, these tools are incredibly valuable in understanding which platforms donors frequent and how they like to engage.

With Virtuous’ social insights feature, nonprofits can use the primary email address on an individual record to locate and append social media handles and profiles across platforms. These social insights help to create more targeted outreach and allow you to connect with donors in a space where they are already comfortable and receptive.

Generative AI for Fundraising

Generative AI optimized the copywriting process for nonprofits, offering a solution to the constant struggle between limited resources and the ever-present need for personalization.

AI-powered tools like ChatGPT have forever changed the way you create content—whether it’s email communications, social media posts, website copy, or even annual impact reports.

While they can’t replace the emotional intelligence of a human, these tools are helpful brainstorming partners, helping you generate fresh ideas and craft compelling narratives that capture hearts and minds.

Just like any skilled partner, generative AI tools need time to be customized and refined. By working together, you can train the AI to align with your organization’s unique voice and goals.

Double Down on Responsive Fundraising Maturity

To help you become a more responsive nonprofit, we’ve adopted a maturity model framework, a step-by-step guide often used by organizations to benchmark their current level of maturity against industry best practices.

As you progress across each step, you’ll see more team effectiveness, increased average donor retention and gift size, decreased staff burnout, improved advocacy, and improved donor acquisition metrics.

Download The Responsive Maturity Model: 5 Building Blocks to Drive Increased Generosity to learn the five building blocks of responsive fundraising.

What you should do now

Below are three ways we can help you begin your journey to building more personalized fundraising with responsive technology.

See the Virtuous platform in action.  Schedule a call with our team for personalized answers and expert advice on transforming your nonprofit with donor management software.

Download our free Responsive Maturity Model and learn the 5 steps to more personalized donor experiences.

If you know another nonprofit pro who’d enjoy reading this page, share it with them via Email, Linkedin, Twitter, or Facebook.

The Responsive Maturity Model
5 Steps to More Personalized Donor Experiences
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