March 31, 2023

The Future of Giving: 5 Ways AI is Transforming the Charitable Landscape

Artificial intelligence has the potential to revolutionize the way nonprofits and companies approach giving back. In this post, we'll explore the role of AI in the giving sector and highlight an exciting new feature on the Change platform.

We’ve all seen the news about AI. Just a few months ago, OpenAI released ChatGPT, a large language model trained designed to answer questions and provide information on a wide range of topics (yes, this description came directly from ChatGPT’s virtual mouth). Shortly after, Google released their own called Bard, ambitiously channeling the knowledge and creativity of Shakespeare himself. Microsoft, too, has joined in on the fun, releasing an improved version of Bing.

AI has been around for years (literally decades), but this new wave of chatbot-style large language models has opened the floodgates to all, making it accessible to the everyday user. I’ve been Googling things like “what are the best restaurants for large groups in san francisco” for years. That sort of search would typically return lists in Yelp or SF Eater articles. Cool, but that often leaves me overwhelmed by options. Now with tools like ChatGPT, the results are presented in an ad-free, numbered format that I can easily read – no clicking around necessary. In short – it’s super easy to use.

Looking for restaurant recs is only scratching the surface of what these AI tools can do. There have been some pretty amazing applications of this chatbot-style AI so far, from creating a brand new language, to writing an original poem about how Bing is better than Google, it seems like the possibilities are endless.

Challenges for nonprofits

With over 1.5 million registered nonprofits in the U.S., it’s clear that this is a country full of people looking to help others. However, nonprofits face loads of challenges - everything form recruiting and retaining staff, to measuring impact. Staffing and employee retention especially is a challenge for nonprofits. According to HR’s 2021 Nonprofit Talent Retention Practices Survey, 42% of nonprofit leaders expected their employee turnover rates to increase in the coming year. Fundraising is also a constant challenge for nonprofits, as they must continuously seek out new sources of funding to support their programs and operations. According to a survey by the Nonprofit Finance Fund, 56% of nonprofits report that they are unable to meet demand for their services due to lack of funding.

So, what role can AI play in the giving sector, and how can nonprofits and companies looking to give back harness its power for good? With such a powerful tool at our literal fingertips, that begs the question:

How can nonprofits and companies looking to give back harness AI for good?

Here are five ways that AI can benefit the giving sector:

  1. Personalization: AI algorithms can analyze large amounts of donor data to create personalized donation recommendations and messaging. By tailoring their approach to individual donors, organizations can increase engagement and build stronger relationships with their supporters.
  2. Fraud detection: AI can help identify fraudulent activity and prevent it before it happens. By analyzing transaction data and user behavior, AI can detect anomalies and alert organizations to potential fraud.
  3. Predictive analytics: AI can predict donor behavior and identify trends to help organizations plan more effective fundraising strategies. By analyzing historical data, AI can identify patterns and provide insights that can inform future campaigns.
  4. Donor engagement: AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants can provide real-time support to donors and help them navigate the donation process. By offering personalized support and guidance, organizations can make the donation experience more accessible and engaging for donors.
  5. Efficiency: AI can automate manual, routine tasks such as donor communication and data entry, freeing up staff to focus on higher-level tasks. By automating these tasks, organizations can save time and reduce costs while improving the overall donor experience.

AI presents an exciting range of possibilities for nonprofits and companies to boost their impact in the giving sector. Through personalized donor engagement, fraud prevention, and automation of routine tasks, AI has the potential to transform how organizations operate. By harnessing the power of AI, organizations can establish deeper relationships with their supporters, anticipate donor behavior, and plan better fundraising strategies. Overall, AI can help organizations achieve greater efficiency, save time, and reduce costs, ultimately leading to a more positive and effective giving sector.

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How Change is using AI

Here at Change, we’re dedicated to making giving easy for everyone, and we’ve been investigating different ways AI could help us achieve that mission. At the core of all that we do is helping nonprofits help the communities they serve. Keeping that as a core, we dug into our nonprofit mission statements in our dashboard and have made some epic improvements to them. At time of publishing, we’ve been able to leverage AI to enhance nonprofit missions and help organizations communicate their impact more effectively. Here’s a bit more about that:

The Backstory

All 1.5 million registered U.S. nonprofits are required to annually file a Form 990 with the IRS, which includes a section dedicated to describing their mission. Most online nonprofit directories, including CharityNavigator and Guidestar, rely on this IRS data for their catalog of nonprofits to help people discover new causes to support. Simply put, the Form 990 is the easiest way to find information about nonprofits at a large scale, so that is the data most organizations use.

The Problem

Unfortunately, it’s common that nonprofits, plagued by lack of resources, will either (a) condense or not accurately describe their missions, or (b) put “see Section O” to avoid duplicative data entry. (For context: Section O often appears on a separate document, the information is often written in all-caps, and is difficult to read and access). It’s obviously not helpful to potential donors to come across “See Section O” in a nonprofit directory – it doesn’t tell you anything about the nonprofit!

Example of a "See Schedule O" mission in Guidestar

What We Did

To help potential donors understand what nonprofits’ missions are and to better serve our customers, we’ve updated all 1 million+ nonprofit missions in our system. By using AI, we’ve analyzed nonprofit mission statements, identified areas where they could be more specific, compelling, or aligned with donor interests, ultimately helping nonprofits increase donor engagement and support.

This improvement brings a renewed sense of understanding of what nonprofits do and how they help their communities without putting the burden on the nonprofits to go into our platform and update the information manually (Remember how underfunded and understaffed many nonprofits are? Yeah. That sucks).

Of course, some nonprofits would rather provide information themselves. Change lets users see the original mission to give the whole picture. Plus, any nonprofit can sign up for Change for free today and choose to personalize their profile exactly the way they’d like.

Improved nonprofit missions using AI on Change
Before and after of nonprofit missions on Change

In conclusion

It’s clear that AI has the potential to revolutionize the giving sector and enable organizations to make a more significant impact on the world. Whether it's through personalized messaging, fraud detection, or predictive analytics, AI can help nonprofits and companies looking to give back achieve their goals more efficiently and effectively. This technology will revolutionize the workforce and people’s lives in ways that are hard to imagine – and we’re just at the brink of this monumental shift. If you haven’t already, log into Change now to see the improved nonprofit missions.

See these updated missions in action in Change

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