Prof. Michael Blumenstein (University of Technology Sydney, Associate Dean in the Faculty of Engineering and IT), believes that the traditional forms of fundraising were “ripe for disruption” via AI (Artificial Intelligence).
He sat on a panel at the FIA conference on the 9th of March, and discussed the implications of technology advancement and fundraising.
At the conference, Blumenstein said:
“To me, as a technology person, they are all related to AI, particularly around voice and natural language processing, and being able to use bots and this type of interaction piece,” Blumenstein said.
“The other area which I think is still really huge, which is not a new area but certainly I don’t think is right in the industry, is data.
“At the event, one of the speakers asked the audience ‘how many of you can safely say your CRM [customer relationship management] is in order, you know with all your data’ and no one put their hand up.
“So I think the big data piece, data management, data analytics is huge. That type of disruption is ripe to hit the sector properly.”
The reason such CRM data and AI integration can be such an advantage is because currently, most NFPs would require a specialist to analyse the data and interpret it in a way that produced meaningful insights. Naturally, hiring such highly skilled staff would strain most non-profit organisations’ budgets.
However, it is likely that we will soon have AI (several are being developed) that will interpret and communicate this data in a way that provides actionable insights.
Professor Blumenstein further explained:
“Why is it gold? Because it does two things. If your data is well stored and easily accessible it can provide you with instant information about the people you deal with for the benefit of your organisation,” he said.
“Number two, if you have enough data, it can actually also serve a different purpose and almost provide you with predictions of the future from past trends.
“So this is very powerful.”
But Blumenstein also cautioned against simply “following the trend,” especially since AI may not be a one-size fits all solution.
“I think organisations, like charity organisations, need to be aware of what’s out there, look at what is affordable and makes sense for their organisation,” he said.
“They should be very wary of not being pressured by large organisations that are offering the world, without being prepared that there’s a dollar value attached to that and you also need to make sure that you are not conned into taking something on that is not going to provide an advantage but may cost a lot of money.
“And there’s just so much noise out there at the moment, so many people selling stuff in AI and talking about AI and the media is on about AI. Maybe you don’t have that huge margin to be able to buy technology, just go slowly but be aware of what’s out there and then maybe leverage off a partnership with an organisation that’s specializing in AI for charity work.”
To read the full article about AI and the impacts on the future of Fundraising, click here.