A guest post by Sarah Tedesco and our friends at DonorSearch! AI can be a powerful tool in a robust donor appreciation strategy. Discover 5 ways that your nonprofit can use AI to show your donors you see and value them.

Donations fuel your nonprofit’s ability to deliver its mission. But at the end of the day, you know that it’s not about the dollars and cents. What really makes nonprofit work possible is the people who so generously lend their support. 

In other words, your nonprofit’s success depends on your ability to build and maintain strong relationships with your supporters, and one of the most important ways you can accomplish this is by expressing your appreciation. 

There are hundreds of ways to show your donors you care. But one of the most fresh and exciting strategies is to tap into the power of artificial intelligence (AI).  

According to DonorSearch, AI tools can help you do everything from taking a deep dive into who your donors are to making it more efficient to write thank-you messages, and using AI in nonprofit work will only become more ubiquitous as organizations seek ways to streamline their operations and do more for their communities. 

In this post, we’ll walk through some of the top ways your nonprofit can leverage AI to show donor appreciation, helping you get the most out of these innovative tools. Let’s go! 

1. Use AI to gather insights about your donors. 

First, let’s back up to before you’ve even secured a donation. An AI screening and prospecting tool can help you gather insights about your donors that go beyond surface-level information. 

Here’s how it works: 

  • Your chosen tool integrates your nonprofit’s donor data with external datasets, supplementing your data with information like giving patterns and engagement behavior, wealth details, demographic characteristics, and social media activity. 
  • Using predictive modeling, the AI tool provides specific and accurate insights, helping you learn more about current donors and find prospective donors you may have overlooked
  • The tool will also make specific predictions about individual donors that you can act on. For example, you may learn who is likely going to donate in the next 12 months, who is likely to give a recurring gift, or who is likely to give a donation over a certain amount.

Of course, this information can support your outreach and donation solicitation efforts. But it can also help you when it comes time to thank your donors for their support. 

In fact, the insights in your donor profiles should serve as the backbone of a personalized donor appreciation strategy. To give your thank-you efforts a personal touch, refer back to the information your AI tool has provided. You’ll want to reference details like personal interests and values, donation amounts and dates, and broader engagement histories to ensure that each thank you makes your donors feel special.

2. Craft personalized thank-you messages.

Writing personalized thank-you messages is essential, whether you’re sending a donor thank-you email or a traditional letter. 

However, writing each message from scratch can take up a lot of your team’s time. Why not speed up the process with a generative AI tool like ChatGPT? 

ChatGPT can improve your thank-you message writing by drafting templates you can then customize for each donor. You can even prompt ChatGPT to: 

  • Create a message template with a warm and friendly tone 
  • Make space for you to acknowledge the impact of the recipient’s donation
  • Keep your thank-you concise
  • Include ongoing engagement opportunities at the end of the message

Once you’ve customized your messages, you can input them into ChatGPT again for proofreading. Remember, though, that ChatGPT is meant to be a writing assistant rather than a sole replacement for team members’ work. Ensure that someone on your team reviews all of the messages before they’re sent out to make sure they will resonate with your donors and match your organization’s larger brand messaging. 

3. Create donor spotlight content. 

Donor spotlights serve a dual purpose—not only do they recognize your donors for their contributions but they also show your larger community the impact that donations have on your organization, encouraging further support and engagement. 

You can create donor spotlights on your website’s blog or on your social media channels. ChatGPT can help you generate the written content for your spotlights, but you may also want to use an AI-powered graphic design platform to create eye-catching visuals for your spotlights. 

Here’s what a good donor spotlight should include: 

  • Your donor’s name and photograph
  • The donor’s story, like their background and motivations for supporting your nonprofit 
  • The type of donation given (and the amount if appropriate) 
  • The impact of the donation on your mission and your beneficiaries
  • A quote from the donor expressing why they chose to support your cause 
  • A thank-you message expressing your appreciation for the donor’s support 
  • A call-to-action (CTA) encouraging readers to engage with your organization in some way 

Before creating and publishing donor spotlights, remember to get permission from the donor. While some donors will enjoy the public shout out, others will prefer quieter forms of appreciation, like a mailed letter or a gift basket delivered to their home. Being conscientious of donors’ preferences will help you maintain strong relationships with them!

4. Plan donor appreciation events. 

Donor appreciation events allow you to both make memories with your donors and get to know them better. 

To plan a successful donor appreciation event, use AI to streamline tasks like: 

  • Picking a venue. AI can help you analyze location, capacity, amenities, and costs for different venues so that you can pick the best one. 
  • Selecting the event date. Let AI tools take donor preferences and availability into consideration to suggest potential dates for your upcoming event. This will ensure a great turnout. 
  • Creating your event budget. Use AI to analyze data from past events and current costs so that you can set a budget you can maximize when spending on a venue, catering, decorations, and entertainment. 
  • Promoting the event. AI can also support your event promotion efforts by suggesting the best communication channels to use, helping you personalize messages, and creating different donor segments. 

Whether you’re planning an event to celebrate donors who have enrolled in your planned giving program or you want to thank everyone who gave to a recent peer-to-peer campaign, using AI can save your team the time and headspace on the menial parts of event planning that you can reinvest it into making the occasion one to remember! 

5. Gather and analyze donor feedback. 

One of the best ways to show your donors that you appreciate them is to ask for their feedback. 

When a donor knows that you care about their thoughts and suggestions regarding how your nonprofit operates, they’ll feel more like a partner in moving your mission forward and feel more inclined to continue their support. 

Here’s how AI can help you gather and analyze feedback: 

  • By creating customized survey questions for different donor segments
  • By analyzing the sentiment of written feedback, categorizing comments as positive, negative, or neutral 

For example, say you want to collect feedback on your matching gifts program to see if your promotion efforts are working. 

With generative AI tools, you create survey questions for different groups of donors based on their average donation amount. Next, you analyze the sentiment of the feedback, learning that there are strong positive feelings about your recent Instagram posts explaining the matching gifts process. Now you know that creating similar content in the future will be an effective way to continue promoting the program! 

The next time you wrap up a fundraising campaign, remember that you don’t have to go it alone when it comes to showing donor appreciation. 

AI can assist you in personalizing your appreciation efforts and showing your donors just how much your organization needs their continued support. You’ve got this!

Sarah Tedesco is the Executive Vice President of DonorSearch, a prospect research and wealth screening company that focuses on proven philanthropy. Sarah is responsible for managing the production and customer support department concerning client contract fulfillment, increasing retention rate and customer satisfaction. She collaborates with other team members on a variety of issues including sales, marketing and product development ideas.

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