The Rise of AI Chatbots: The Future of Nonprofits

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Actively Engage Donors Passively with AI Chatbots

Donor Experience (DX) is important in the real world as well as the digital world. This is an offshoot of terms in other fields such as User Experience (UX), when designing any type of product, and Customer Experience (CX), a term in the sales world. Donor Experience problems often arise when it comes to online interactions; a personal touch is necessary if you are going to get anywhere with donors.

With the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and the addition of it to the existing concept of chatbots, creating new opportunities for live chat software on websites and messengers on social media. Even the NBA is using Facebook chatbots to provide stats, highlights, and more. Remember SmarterChild back on AIM? I may be dating myself with that one. Point being, chatbots have come a long way in the past couple of decades.

No longer are chatbots just rephrasing what was typed to them. Now, chatbots are able to answer questions accurately that visitors to your sites have. If the bot runs into anything it cannot do, it will seamlessly transition the live chat over to a human. A popular use is to proactively engage website visitors. It can give as much “hand holding” as is necessary as they navigate your organization’s site. Maybe the coolest part is the potential to solicit donations automatically.

Advantages of AI Chatbots for Nonprofits

In return for implementing AI chatbots, nonprofit organizations are able to free representatives from answering fewer complex questions, generating lead, and automatically greeting visitors to their websites. One of the biggest advantages is speed. AI chatbots are able to talk to multiple visitors at a time and react almost instantaneously. In the nonprofit world, the harder it is for a person to donate, the more likely they are to get frustrated and give up. 

Why Use AI Chatbots?

The interpretation of the graph below, from a SurveyMonkey Audience survey of over 1,000 people in the U.S. on user communication preferences, is telling. A large portion of users are running into pain points during their use of websites.

Survey results showing percentage of users who experienced various frustrations online.

[T]he most common complaints were inability to find answers or business details, while companies being ‘impersonal’ or inactive on social media were lesser concerns. It’s possible that organizations are simply already doing those things really well, but it’s also possible that people care less about the ‘social’ parts of interacting with a brand and more about reaching solutions quickly–even if it means searching for answers themselves.

2019 data: communication in the time of chatbots, Colette Des Georges, SurveyMonkey.com, 2019

While people want speedy solutions, they are leery of using a bot for help instead of a human. Contrary to thought, research has shown that a majority of people have talked with an AI chatbot without even knowing it. 

Only 13% of the respondents in our study reported using a chatbot last year, but a recent study shows that 58% of B2B and 42% of B2C companies use chatbots on their websites—meaning they’re much more common than consumers might expect.

2019 data: communication in the time of chatbots, Colette Des Georges, SurveyMonkey.com, 2019

Examples of Nonprofit AI Chatbot Use

The Ford Foundation did research into the usage of AI chatbots for nonprofits, saying,

There is a huge opportunity for organizations and activists to use automation in constructive ways that further social justice causes… [I]n situations where releasing critical information to the public might endanger an activist’s life, a bot could be used to release that information instead. Bots could elevate the stories and narratives of groups often marginalized from mainstream public discourse.

Why you should care about bots if you care about social justice, Negrón & Hargrave, FordFoundation.org, 2017

The global nonprofit charity WaterAid was able to raise £4.2 million by including an AI chatbot on their Facebook page as part of their fundraising campaign. The bot let visitors “live” the everyday life of the people living in a Sierra Leone village.

Side Note

In the past couple of years, the general public as a whole has had increasing concerns about AI. People tend to misinterpret AI advances as a slippery slope to something out of a sci-fi action movie; case in point is how the public at large took the information, spread in 2017, that an experiment Facebook was doing with AI was shut because of the bots “creating their own language.” In actuality, it so scary. The bots came up with a shorthand way of communicating concepts, something humans do daily, “laugh out loud” versus “LOL” being a common example.

The opposite end of the spectrum is exemplified by a subreddit that is solely comprised of AI chatbots posting to discussions on real topics; no human interaction or input is allowed.As you can see from the link above, the use of bots online, has the potential to undermine ethical norms. The use of this type of software needs to come with a large amount of respect. This reminds me of the Spiderman quote, “With great power comes great responsibility.” 

Conclusion

AI chatbots improve Donor Experience by being available 24/7, no wait times, speedy results, and automating the process of fundraising, to name a few. It’s a good idea to start thinking about the various applications into which you could implement a chatbot; the technology has a foothold and is only going to improve from here.

Here are some interesting chatbot software companies that we found during our research:

Ultimate Donations on EmailUltimate Donations on FacebookUltimate Donations on PinterestUltimate Donations on Twitter
Donor Gurus at UltimateDonations.org
Ultimate Donations streamlines the often convoluted task of planning fundraisers and charity events by guiding you to discover donors more rapidly and effectively. If you have requested donations previously, you might be all to familiar with how tiring and time-consuming examining potential donors can be. Ultimate Donations has done a significant part of the research into who is most likely to donate to your organization. If you want a particular donation, we have the data on what is available.