Dear fundraisers in my beloved Canada and those in the USA as well,
I love that you are starting to talk about the future of this profession through the lens of data analytics, and often times AI. As a guy who has himself gone off the deep-end in this regard, I can't recommend enough the value of looking to analytics to help push your non-profits forward.
That said, I have a list of things for you to keep in mind:
1) Please make sure not to equate AI with analytics in general.
2) Analytics is a pretty broad term, which in some cases is just the practice of examining your data for relevant insights about people, events, or even the health of your organization
3) Bear in mind that analytics is not something that can only benefit mid-sized or large organizations, but can in fact benefit smaller organizations as well.
4) Scoring your donors on monthly or major gift likelihood is typically NOT done with AI, but rather with other predictive modelling methods.
5) One possible application of AI, along with a thing called Natural Language Processing, is to automatically craft text-based communication such as Gravyty’s “First Draft”. It is also sometimes used to deploy automated chatbots to chat back and forth with people without human intervention (see SnatchBot as an example).
6) Outside of the uses in point 5, it can also be used for facial recognition, object recognition in videos, and even can assist in identifying diseases in the medical sphere.
Finally, I’d like to tell you the most important point of all:
7) Without a revolution in the attitudes of smaller non-profits toward proper database infrastructure and management, please expect AI and also Analytics to have minimal impact on our sector.
Let's talk about building the data and analytics capacity of charities up from the ground, resting where needs are met and competitiveness is ensured. Anything beyond that is unfortunately doomed to fail.
Matthew Dubins is Chief Donor Scientist at Donor Science Consulting: a truly Canadian consulting agency using predictive analytics, data visualization, dashboarding, and address correction to help you do better fundraising with the help of your data! You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.