The ultimate guide for the modern digital gift officer
Did you know that most fundraisers only spend 30% of their time on activities that actually bring in gifts? A whopping 70% of their time is spent on low-impact background tasks!1
As a digital gift officer, it is your responsibility to ensure that your organization’s fundraising objectives are met. This involves making complex decisions and juggling a multitude of tasks each day. Some of these tasks—like donor meetings, phone calls, and sending proposals — are high impact and directly drive giving. But the vast majority—like sorting lists, updating the CRM or planning travel—are low-impact tasks that tend to dominate your day while only indirectly resulting in donorship.
In order to be more effective at hitting your targets, you need to find ways to spend less time on time-sapping, lower-impact activities and more time on high-impact ones. Any tool that can help you perform your high-level tasks faster and better will also greatly impact your results. In all areas of fundraising activity, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is proving to be the game changer.
How AI helps gift officers exceed goals
AI is a branch of computer science in which computers are programmed to mimic human intelligence and carry out complex thinking or decision-making tasks faster and with fewer errors than humans. In fundraising, AI-based tools can assimilate and process vast amounts of data at record speed and come up with valuable, actionable insights. As a gift officer, you can use AI fundraising technology like Raise from Gravyty to analyze your database, identify prospective donors, prioritize which donors to contact in which order and even draft your emails.
Read on to learn about the six ways in which AI can help you exceed your fundraising objectives.
1. Strategize, create pipelines + manage prospects
Every successful fundraising endeavor starts with a strategy. In order to execute your fundraising objectives, you need to plan out your donor journeys and create a strategy that identifies the best donors and specifies an appropriate timeline for discovery, cultivation, solicitation and stewardship. These decisions are made by analyzing the data held in your organization’s database. In most organizations, the required data—giving history, relationship information, contact details—may be found in different places, meaning you have to open up several tabs on your computer and switch between them.
This complicated, behind-the-scenes planning takes many hours and that’s before you can even begin the work of building relationships with donors. AI simplifies the entire process by using algorithms to determine who to qualify, cultivate or steward and even what amounts of money to request. Your fundraising strategy is mapped out for you; all you have to do is check it and execute.
2. Form a daily action plan
There are only so many hours in the day, so you want to hit the ground running as soon as you get into the office, but this rarely happens in practice. The first few hours of a digital gift officer’s day are generally spent going through to-do lists, reading emails and working out what needs to be done. With an AI fundraising tool like Raise, you actually can hit the ground running. When you open your inbox at the start of the day, you’ll see a series of pre-drafted emails that only need to be scanned and lightly edited before they are ready to send. All the thought behind who to email, what to say and what to ask for has been done for you. This allows you to vastly increase the number of meaningful connections you can make in the limited amount of time you have available each day.
3. Leverage auto-generated + personalized emails
While your job is made up of many different tasks, the core of what you do is build strong personal relationships with potential donors. Most donors, no matter the giving level, appreciate personalized contact from a gift officer that they get to know over time. As a digital gift officer, you build these relationships predominantly over email, so you need to carefully think out and plan each email you send. Crafting personal and friendly emails that reflect your individual style and don’t sound like generic mass mailings takes effort and time, which most gift officers don’t have.
Raise uses AI to create a draft email incorporating all the relevant, accurate information. All you need to do is review it, edit it as you see fit and send it when you’re ready. Over time, Raise learns your tone and style and can create emails that sound exactly like you—meaning less editing and more sending.
4. Steward donors with messaging that resonates
It’s the little things that count, and when it comes to building relationships with donors it helps a lot if gift officers remember small details like birthdays, anniversaries, interests and affiliations. When using traditional fundraising methods, this involves going back to the database before making each contact and looking for these small pieces of personal information. Raise, however, does this task automatically and incorporates any tidbits of information in the draft emails it creates so you won’t have to keep going back to the database.
5. Keep donor records updated
The best organizations store a wealth of data about their donors. In fact, the more data they have, the better able they are to target their communications and give each donor the right level of attention and solicitation. But a database is only as good as its data. If gift officers are so busy that they fail to update the database or CRM after each interaction, it can mean losing important information and making fundraising less efficient.
Gift officers that diligently update the records after each contact point find they spend hours on repetitive, low-value tasks like updating contact details and copy-pasting mail texts into the CRM. AI can eliminate this need completely. Raise is designed to integrate with any CRM you are using and will automatically and seamlessly update as you work, giving you access to clean data each day.
6. Increase fundraiser capacity
Many fundraising departments struggle to find the time to do everything they need each day and believe that the answer is to recruit more gift officers. Often this is not in the budget, and even if it is, it can take two years until a new gift officer is fully ramped up. A better solution is to provide tools that help existing gift officers carry out their tasks with maximum efficiency. By organizing, streamlining and automating gift officers’ many tasks, AI-driven fundraising tools like Raise can directly increase the fundraising capacity of each officer and make your organization far more effective at hitting and exceeding targets.
Adapting to AI for fundraising starts now
AI is the way to go if you want to exceed your fundraising objectives without recruiting more gift officers or overtaxing your budget. Using the power of machine learning, you can simplify many of your more complex tasks, strategize more effectively and also churn through a lot of the lower-level tasks faster and more efficiently. AI fundraising leaves gift officers with more time for building relationships and making an impact where it matters most.