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Technology for connection: Boost donor engagement and event outcomes using tech and AI  

Technology for connection: Boost donor engagement and event outcomes using tech and AI  

April 17, 2024
Leya Simmons

In the ever-evolving landscape of nonprofit fundraising, the integration of technology into our strategies is not just an advantage; it’s become a cornerstone of success.  

The rise of digital tools and artificial intelligence for nonprofit technology marks a pivotal shift, offering both a challenge and a promise to organizations looking to deepen donor engagement and enhance the effectiveness of their fundraising events.  

This shift is not just about keeping pace with technology for nonprofits but about harnessing its potential to revolutionize how we connect with our communities and drive our missions forward.  

Navigating the new terrain of nonprofit fundraising  

Today’s fundraising environment is marked by a series of challenges that reflect broader economic and social trends. A notable trend is the changing landscape of donor behavior, influenced by factors like economic uncertainty and competing priorities.  

Giving by individuals decreased in 2022 by 13.4% when adjusted for inflation, as compared to individual giving in 2021, according to the Giving USA 2023 Annual Report on Philanthropy.  

While the pandemic years saw record-breaking giving and some correction should have been anticipated, this marks a concerning and steeper-than expected drop. The decline in disposable income has led to a decrease in the number of donors, requiring nonprofits to adopt more innovative and targeted approaches to engagement.  

The complexities of this new terrain are further compounded by the demand for transparency and accountability. Donors today seek assurance that their contributions are making a tangible impact, necessitating a level of communication and personalization that traditional fundraising methods may struggle to provide.  

The role of technology and AI in modern fundraising 

In response to these challenges, technology and AI have emerged as indispensable allies for nonprofits and fundraisers. Through the lens of tech and AI, we’re not just seeing a set of tools but a paradigm shift in how we approach fundraising.  

AI, particularly generative AI, offers a blend of data analytics and creative generation that can transform the way we conceptualize and execute fundraising campaigns. For instance, AI’s predictive capabilities allow us to gain deeper insights into donor behavior, enabling us to tailor our outreach with an unprecedented level of precision.  

This could mean personalizing fundraising appeals based on an individual’s past interactions and preferences or utilizing AI-driven analytics to identify trends and opportunities that would otherwise remain obscured.  

Empowering fundraisers with AI and digital tools  

The power of AI extends into everyday applications that can significantly reduce the workload on fundraising professionals while enhancing the quality of their output and connections.  

From drafting compelling narratives for campaigns to analyzing donor data for insights, AI acts as a powerful assistant that augments human creativity and intelligence.  

Moreover, the integration of AI into nonprofit management, fundraising and event management platforms can streamline operations, offering features like automated donor segmentation, personalized communication strategies and enhanced event and campaign planning tools. This not only improves efficiency but also elevates the donor experience, making every interaction more meaningful and impactful and paving the path to deeper connection.  

Sourcing technology that keeps data in a central brain (or database) to create a single source of truth for an organization also will greatly increase the ability of your software’s built-in intelligence and AI (and even external AI tools) to provide value.  

Importantly, many of these tools are readily available and no longer require vast resources or technological expertise. Many software solutions offer built-in intelligence (for example – the ability to integrate historical data and donor insight into a current event or campaign) and generative AI plug-ins that work within your organization’s own data set – literally allowing you to “talk” to your data.  

Data analytics and built-in intelligence: A game changer  

At the heart of this technological revolution is the use of data analytics and built-in intelligence. These tools enable nonprofits to navigate the complex web of donor information, transforming raw data into actionable insights. By analyzing historical giving patterns, demographic information, and engagement metrics, organizations can craft strategies that resonate on a personal level with their audience.  

Fundraising event software can, as an example, take a list of guests at the previous year’s gala and analyze the demographic data around those attendees to suggest to the event planners ideal auction items and suggest appropriate fund-a-need giving levels.  

Such capabilities are not just about enhancing fundraising efforts; they represent a shift toward a more data-driven, donor-centric approach to nonprofit management.  

Whether it’s optimizing event planning, tailoring fundraising appeals or managing donor relationships, the integration of AI and analytics into fundraising software offers a pathway to more effective and sustainable engagement strategies.  

Charting the future: Ethical considerations and beyond 

As we embrace the potential of technology and AI in fundraising, it’s crucial to navigate these waters with a keen sense of ethics and responsibility. The use of unbiased data and the adherence to ethical AI principles are fundamental to maintaining the trust and confidence of donors. It comes down to leveraging technology in a way that respects donor privacy and preferences, ensuring that our advancements in fundraising are matched by our commitment to integrity and transparency.  

As we move forward, the synergy between human insight and technological innovation will be key to unlocking the full potential of our efforts, empowering us to meet the challenges of the modern fundraising landscape with confidence and creativity.  

Nonprofits can now harness the full potential of digital fundraising and organizational management to reach wider audiences and drive donations, encourage event attendance and facilitate tech-backed, in-person experiences that leave donors feeling good about their investment in the nonprofit.  

The journey toward further integrating technology and AI into our fundraising efforts is not just about adopting new tools; it’s about reimagining the possibilities of engagement, impact and connection.  


Leya Simmons

Leya Simmons is co-founder and CEO of BetterUnite. She has worked with nonprofits for her entire professional career, both on staff in fundraising and executive director capacities, as well as serving on many boards.