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Jul 22, 2019

A.I. and Fundraising

A couple of months ago I blogged about the lack of digital disruption in fundraising. This blog is going to be about the future impact on AI on fundraising – or the lack of it.

AI, or artificial intelligence, is one of the most popular topics if you peruse LinkedIn posts these days. Most the articles take one of two approaches:

1. Get ready, AI is going to be wonderful!

OR

2. Look out, AI is going to be dreadful!

For AI to work, a couple of key things need to be in place. First, AI works best with tasks that are routine and can be standardized. Fundraising is anything but routine and standard. While there are best practices approaches most fundraising professionals would agree on, for every rule there are a dozen exceptions. And the best “exception” for one nonprofit organization is generally not the same for another nonprofit. This is going to require that AI be super flexible. And as we know, complexity is the enemy of automation.

This leads me to my second point. Because AI solutions will have to be complex and variable in the fundraising environment, it will likely be expensive. Like all innovations, business verticals with the most to gain are usually the first to adopt. So, between the general lack of money in the nonprofit space and the relatively low payroll threshold of fundraising professionals (I’m with you here) it is unlikely that AI will have much of a foothold in fundraising anytime soon.

Early Returns

We are knee-deep in analyzing last fall’s results. While there is of course some variation in results by organization, the general narrative is that last fall wasn’t great . . . but it wasn’t awful either. It was just OK. What we are seeing is that overall revenue was...

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How Fundraising Will Evolve

In honor of International Data Week, I’m sharing how the future of fundraising will evolve. Many people are concerned about fundraising (I’m not btw). For nearly two decades, the “experts” have been predicting the death of direct mail fundraising. Eventually, the...

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Forecasting the Demise of the Boomer Donor

For the past decade or so, when fundraising analysts gather together around the bar at a conference, the discussion invariably leads to a debate on how the generosity of the Boomer generation comes to an end (after we put away our slide rules and stop talking about...

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