The Role of Artificial Intelligence in Major Gift Fundraising

June 20, 2024
5 min read
Full name
11 Jan 2022
5 min read

What if you had a new strategy for building the types of committed, transformative relationships with donors necessary to build, nurture and sustain a meaningful major gift fundraising program?

Most nonprofits know how important a major gifts strategy can be to their overall survival.

After all, the 80-20 rule is more than alive and well in fundraising, with 80 to 95% of donor dollars often coming from as few as 5 to 20% of an organization’s donors. A single major donor can turn a five-year wish list into reality, empowering organizations to bring the most mission impact possible to the communities they serve.

Opening up and nurturing the types of donor relationships crucial to creating real change is imperative to the long-term sustainability of your nonprofit’s mission. Yet the path forward has long been strewn with impediments.

The daily work of raising major gifts presents unique challenges.

To meaningfully engage 100+ unique donors and move them in parallel toward an ask is more than a full-time job. With high turnover rates (12%) and staff shortages (26% of nonprofits had vacancy rates of 20-29%), there is generally too much work to go around. It’s burning people out and hurting donor retention.

If you feel overwhelmed, and don’t enjoy your work, you simply won’t do it well.

You’ll put it off. You’ll cut corners. The way you’re feeling will seep through and express itself in your interactions with donors. They won’t feel passion, because you don’t feel passion.

That’s no way to facilitate your donor’s journey along the pathway to passionate philanthropy!

That’s why I’ve invited an expert in what I’m calling “modern major gift fundraising” to address us today. You’ll still need all the fundamentals, but it would be fundraising malpractice not to use the amazing new tools at your disposal.  Welcome to Victoria Wheeler from Momentum. Take it away “V!”

There’s a New Sheriff in Town

Let’s begin with you and how you feel about your ability to build the types of gratifying relationships with donors necessary to, ultimately, result in passionate philanthropic gifts.

In order to build such relationships, you need to feel energized and supported. This means fundraisers need lifting up! Too often organizations grind their fundraisers down with impossible-to-manage workloads and ancillary tasks that distract from the core work of building rapport and meaningful connection.

Fortunately, some of the tasks burdening fundraisers can be solved with technology.

What if you had the equivalent of an extra project manager to not only take extraneous tasks off your plate, but also enable you to work with donors in a manner that’s more timely, more relevant and more strategic?

When you free your frontline fundraisers to spend more time with donors, magical things ensue.

The Impact of Artificial Intelligence

This is where Artificial Intelligence (AI) steps in as a game-changer in this space. It goes far beyond merely solving administrative challenges or making individual transactions quicker and slicker.

We are at a fork in the road. AI is much more than just ChatGPT, which is the most talked-about use for the rapidly evolving technology.

AI transforms the way fundraisers engage with donors.

Let’s look at a few examples.

A. PERSONALIZATION through AI Algorithms

Consider this scenario: A major gift fundraiser is responsible for engaging with a diverse pool of donors, each with their own preferences and giving history.

How AI helps: AI algorithms analyze past interactions, donation patterns, and even social media activity. They then summarize all your donor’s engagement and interests, suggesting timely next steps.

For example: By understanding a particular donor is passionate about education and has a history of supporting STEM programs, the AI system can suggest personalized content and engagement strategies. This might include sending articles about recent achievements in STEM education or updates on projects the donor has previously supported.

RESULT: AI can not only suggest the type of “move” or “touch,” but actually draft the email, text or other copy for you. In your tone of voice!  The result is a highly personalized experience that resonates with the donor’s interests, fostering a deeper connection.

B. PREDICTIVE ANALYTICS for Strategic Engagement

Consider this scenario: Imagine having the ability to predict when a donor is most receptive to a significant ask.

How AI helps: AI utilizes predictive analytics to process vast datasets and identify patterns in donor behavior.

For example: The system may discover a particular donor tends to be more responsive during the holiday season or after attending a specific event. Armed with this insight, the major gift fundraiser can strategically plan their moves, ensuring they approach the donor at a time when the likelihood of a positive response is highest.

RESULT: This predictive approach not only saves time, but significantly increases the chances of successful engagements.

C. AUTOMATION for Time Efficiency

Consider this scenario: Let’s explore how automation through AI can alleviate the burden of administrative tasks. Traditionally, major gift fundraisers spend a considerable amount of time on data entry, scheduling, and communication.

How AI helps: With AI-driven automation, routine tasks are streamlined.

For example: The system can automatically update donor profiles based on their interactions, schedule follow-up emails or calls, and even draft personalized outreach messages.

RESULT: By automating these time-consuming processes, major gift fundraisers can redirect their efforts towards building authentic relationships and strategizing for successful solicitations. No opportunity is missed, nothing falls to the back burner and nothing slips through the cracks.

3 Top Benefits of AI in Major Gift Fundraising

If you need to sell your leadership on the benefits of investing in AI to transform your major gift fundraising, here are three key benefits.

1. Enhanced Donor Insights

Consider the enhanced donor insights provided by AI. The system analyzes a donor’s giving history, preferences, and online behavior to create a comprehensive profile. For instance, if a donor frequently engages with content related to healthcare initiatives, the fundraiser gains valuable insights into their philanthropic interests. Armed with this information, the fundraiser can tailor their communications to align with the donor’s passion, creating a more meaningful and personalized donor experience.

2. Improved Strategic Planning

AI’s ability to analyze data and predict outcomes empowers organizations to make more informed decisions. Let’s delve into strategic planning as an example. The AI system, utilizing predictive analytics, identifies trends and patterns in donor behavior. Suppose it discovers that donors who engage with a specific type of content are more likely to make a major gift. Armed with this knowledge, organizations can strategically plan their content distribution, ensuring that donors receive information that resonates with their interests, ultimately leading to more effective solicitations.

3. Increased Efficiency and Time Savings

AI’s automation capabilities lead to increased efficiency and time savings. Fundraisers can now focus on building deeper connections and strategizing for successful solicitations. Automated data entry and scheduling processes ensure that fundraisers spend less time on administrative tasks and more time cultivating meaningful relationships with donors.

Engage More Donors With AI & Major Gift Fundraising

In the ever-evolving landscape of major gift fundraising, AI emerges as a powerful ally for nonprofits. By addressing the challenges of executing meaningful touches and moves, AI enhances the efficiency and impact of donor engagement. As nonprofits embrace these transformative tools, they position themselves to unlock the passion of donors and drive positive change in alignment with their missions.

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