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October 13, 2023 | Categories End of Year, Featured, Nonprofit Technology

Can you trust AI with your year-end fundraising appeals?

Yes, but only when you pair it with your human creativity!

The rise of generative AI – that is, artificial intelligence that is capable of creating text, images, and other media – can offer fundraisers and nonprofits a much needed assist during the busy year-end giving season. It’s totally tempting to just tell the AI tool of choice to write a year-end appeal for you and cross it off your list. 

But how well can you trust AI with your Giving Tuesday and year-end fundraising communications? Part of the challenge with generative AI is the lack of human discernment. For example, if two fundraisers approach the same AI tool with the same prompt, like “create a year-end fundraising appeal letter” it will give them the same content, and it won’t be specific to their nonprofits’ mission, values, vision, and projects.

Thankfully, there are ways to use generative AI to save time, jumpstart your thinking, and still end up with unique, effective language to take your year-end fundraising to new heights. Here’s how:

Think of AI as the starting block, not the finish line

Have you ever stared at a blank word doc, hoping to be struck with the elusive lightning bolt of inspiration that will drive your donors to give in droves? Many fundraisers know this feeling well! But when you have a continually growing to-do list, especially around calendar year-end, you can’t afford to waste time spent wallowing in writer’s block. 

Here are some prompt ideas for using AI tools to kickstart your year-end communications and generate language you can edit right away, rather than needing to come up with original language on the fly. The more detail you can include, the better! We’ll use the fictional animal welfare nonprofit, Coral Acres, as an example below:

  • Write a fundraising appeal letter to be sent through direct mail to solicit donations to Coral Acres Animal Rescue. Use a hopeful tone and invoke the spirit of generosity around the holiday season. Call attention to a $5,000 matching gift challenge, and leave merge fields for [Salutation], [Suggested Gift Amount], and [First Name]. Limit to 250 words.
  • Write a series of five fundraising emails to be sent during the day on Giving Tuesday to solicit donations for Coral Acres Animal Rescue. Use a friendly tone that increases in urgency with each email, and include an enticing subject line and preheader. Include ways to stay in touch with us, like a link to sign up to our email newsletter. Include three eye-catching locations for a link to our donation page.
  • Write a script for a thank you video from the executive director of Coral Acres Animal Rescue. Keep it to 60 seconds or less when read aloud, and use an encouraging and hopeful tone. Thank current donors for their support, and thank volunteers for their accomplishments. 
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DonorPerfect clients: You have exclusive access to customizable fundraising templates through the Constant Contact integration – written and approved by real humans with real fundraising experience. Check out Constant Contact now!

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Optimize your appeal language for different media

Have a line or phrase you want to use all over town? Ask your AI tool for ideas! Generative AI can help take content from your best appeal letter and pull catch phrases, social media posts, stewardship messages, taglines, and whatever else you might need. 

Many generative AI tools allow you to upload files, so you can take a recent, successful fundraising appeal and upload it to use as the basis for your next multichannel marketing campaign. When your community sees consistency between your messages online, in print, and in person, they’ll start internalizing your nonprofit as one to trust and remember it as one to support when they make their year-end giving decisions. 

Don’t have a go-to line yet? You can use your AI tool to help with that, too! Try including emotional, encouraging language in your prompt so that it can generate something that includes a little of your humanity and unique perspective. 

Want to learn more about reaching your donors through multiple avenues? Check out the free guide, 4 Strategies to Build Multichannel Donor Relationships!

Reuse and recycle old content

Can you remember what the nonprofits you support wrote in their annual appeals last year?

Yeah, I can’t either. And I say this as a former fundraiser who used to agonize over every word and punctuation mark in my appeal letters! The truth is, fundraising appeals serve to inspire donors to give in the immediate or near future, and then are (hopefully) recycled when their job is done. 

If you need a permission slip to take old content and spruce it up a bit this year, here it is! Comb through your data for your most successful year-end fundraising appeal, and see if you can determine what made it special. Then you can upload it into your AI tool of choice and ask it to update the language. Don’t forget to include your nonprofit’s latest initiatives, accomplishments, and ways your supporters can be the most helpful this year. 

Generate new ideas for advertising venues, available grants, and more

Don’t need help creating written pieces or images? Generative AI can still help expand your year-end fundraising campaign by providing new and creative ways to get your message in front of new audiences. Here are some prompt ideas to get started:

  • Create a list of all grants accepting applications in my zip code for animal welfare nonprofits with a deadline of 12/31 or later.
  • Give a list of businesses within 25 miles of me who offer discounts and/or donations to local nonprofits. Include contact information for corporate giving if available.
  • Find podcast hosts who are willing to give free or discounted advertising time to nonprofit organizations. Put local hosts (within 25 miles of me) at the top of the list. 
  • Find the cheapest billboards available for rent within 25 miles of me.

For fundraisers, the final few months of the year usher in a special kind of chaos, and DonorPerfect is here to help. We’ve put together a free bundle of checklists, tips, and resources to guide you through a smooth and successful giving season! It includes the Giving Tuesday Cheatsheet, the Year-End Fundraising Cheatsheet, and AI for Nonprofits to tie it all together. Get yours now!

Get the free Year-End
Fundraising Bundle!

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Meet the author: Emily Zacek

Emily Zacek joined the DonorPerfect team as a copywriter in January, 2022. She graduated from the University of Michigan in 2014 with degrees in flute performance and organizational studies, and her undergraduate thesis focused on labor activity trends in American arts nonprofits. She brings a...

Learn more about Emily Zacek
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