Bots for Charity or: How Nonprofits Can Stop Worrying and Love Artificial Intelligence

You might have heard of bots. If not, the buzz from major technology companies such as Microsoft, Slack and Facebook is that bots — or semi-intelligent software programs that can be programmed to answer questions and provide services in a human-ish way — are the next “thing” in technology.

That might be true, and it might not, but the RallyBound team does believe there could be some potential value for nonprofit fundraising in the future if such “fundraiser bots” are done correctly.

There are two main ways that we see bots helping nonprofits in the (kind-of-near) future: by building chat bots to help answer questions and solicit donations directly with supporters, and — more powerfully — by adopting fundraising platforms that build bots into their systems.

“How much would you like to give today?”

Both Facebook (for Facebook Messenger) and Microsoft (including for Skype) have recently announced software developer tools to help build bots with artificial intelligence (AI), meaning that they should be able to “learn” to give better answers to users the more they are used (including from one-on-one conversations with individual users).

These AI-powered bots could theoretically be built by/for nonprofits to work natively in these messaging services to perhaps answer questions about a cause, a fundraising event, or to even register or collect a donation from a user. So, in effect, these bots could be used to expand your one-to-one connections with supporters on these popular platforms. Many other messaging and social networks are expected to continue the AI bot trend as well.

“RallyBound Bot please send me fundraising tips.”

Another potential use for bots by nonprofits is to enhance professional digital fundraising platforms. This type of bot could enable individual fundraisers and fundraising teams to intelligently automate tasks based on a number of variables, including personal schedules, fundraising goals, fitness levels and interactions with other applications.

These fundraising bots — and to be clear, no digital fundraising platform, including RallyBound, has built this kind of functionality at this point — could not only help drive more giving for a nonprofit’s cause but could also simply make fundraising easier and less time consuming for supporters, which in turn will likely make fundraising all that more popular to people that want to support a cause.

Image credit: Microsoft