Donations are essential to the existence of most nonprofits, making fundraising a crucial part of typical operations. Many not-for-profit organizations function with limited budgets and small workforces.
When nonprofits lack the staff members needed to adequately engage with audiences about fundraising, chatbots could help. Here are some ways charities could implement that emerging technology.
Nonprofit organizations often rely on supporters to assist with fundraising or other types of volunteering. Doing so allows them to reach people they might not otherwise encounter without expanding their networks.
Charities should consider creating a chatbot to answer the most common questions from current or possible volunteer fundraisers. Some of the questions the chatbot assists with might be, “What is the email address for the fundraising contact person in [city]?” or, “I’ve changed my phone number since signing up. Can I give you the new one?”
A charity in the United Kingdom called The Children’s Society created a chatbot that filled that function. There’s also a chatbot called Ida that takes users through a five-minute process that connects them to relevant charities so that people can get aligned with those organizations.
Silent auctions are arguably among the most popular ways for charities to raise money. They work particularly effectively for keeping people interested while other festivities, such as dinner and dancing, occur. Smartphone technology allows mobile bidding that improves silent auctions overall.
Most people have their phones with them almost all the time. If charities inform silent auction participants about the option to place bids by making a few taps on screens, the idea of bidding becomes more user-friendly.
The specifics for running a silent auction vary, but the general process is that each bidder receives a number, then writes that number and a dollar amount on a sheet of paper placed next to the item they want. Bidders then continue checking the item sheets over the next few hours to see whether people outbid them.
Charities should strongly think about using a chatbot to keep people in the loop about the things they hope to win. Each item up for bid usually has a number associated with it that simplifies things for tracking purposes. However, that figure could also be part of a chatbot prompt. Someone using the chatbot during a silent auction could query, “What’s the current highest bid for [item number]?”
The reply could let them know to increase a bid or if they’re still coming out on top. A chatbot like this could also be useful from an administrative perspective, especially if the parties running it cannot supervise the proceedings during the whole auction. They might ask a chatbot, “How many bidders does [item number] currently have?”, then use the answer to get an idea of which things are in the highest demand.
Chatbots have an artificial intelligence (AI) component that helps them respond as realistically as possible to users’ queries. But, AI can also come into the picture in other ways. For example, nonprofits could use AI to categorize the data users naturally feed into a chatbot while using it.
Every year in Hong Kong, a fundraising event called Orbis Moonwalkers urges people to do a 20-kilometer night walkathon. The cause raises money to fight blindness.
Orbis, the charity behind this fundraising effort, embedded a chatbot into a banner ad and used it to bolster user engagement. Besides interacting with people, the chatbot used AI to check for real people engaging versus automated scams, as well as to categorize an individual’s level of intent-based on their responses.
These features cut down on donor research time and equipped people on fundraising teams to assess the most useful ways to continue the conversations with people who reached out via the chatbot. As such, nonprofits should keep this case study in mind as they think how a chatbot might ideally function for their organizations.
The development teams responsible for building chatbots appreciate knowing how to meet customer expectations throughout the process. If nonprofit clients who come to them already have well-formed ideas about how the chatbot could collect and classify data from customers instead of just serving responses to them, the outcomes could be mutually beneficial.
One of the tough things about inspiring people to give is that they often have trouble visualizing how the money they contribute will assist their fellow humans in need.
Nonprofits can tackle that challenge by using a chatbot that gives a glimpse into the lives of the people a charity’s work has positively affected. WaterAid made a chatbot called “Talk to Sellu” that allowed people to get perspectives from a farmer in Sierra Leone who lives in a community without access to clean water. The chatbot also provided updates about the charity’s work.
The usage results for the chatbot showed a quarter of the people using it clicked to donate, making the bot 178% more effective than a landing ad.
When organizations ponder how to use this format for their own needs, it’s ideal for them to focus on storytelling aspects. WaterAid’s chatbot took people through the farmer’s life and gave them information about his family and daily routine, which made the content highly relatable.
Securing the required donations is one of the most significant challenges most charities face. However, as these tips and case studies show, chatbots could bring more momentum to the giving process.