AI for Good: How AI supports fundraising

In collaboration with Charity Digital, we have published a new whitepaper that explores how artificial intelligence and Microsoft AI tools can transform the way that charities approach fundraising. Download a copy of the free whitepaper here.

The potential of artificial intelligence (AI) to transform the way we work and live has been much discussed since the advent of generative AI tool ChatGPT in late 2022. Since then, charities have sought to understand the ways that AI can support their missions, helping them to supercharge fundraising, optimise services, and ultimately, deliver more impact.

There are a multitude of AI tools available to charities, all with different capabilities and features. Some may be embedded into technology we already use, such as Microsoft’s AI assistant Copilot, which works with other Microsoft products such as its search engine Bing. There’s also a wide variety of AI resources available within Microsoft Cloud Technology, such as Azure, Microsoft Purview, Power BI, and Microsoft 365, among others. These tools can help charities achieve more with data and prepare it for the introduction of AI.

Indeed, with such a wide variety of tools and new ones emerging every day, getting ready for AI is a challenge charities are facing imminently. AI relies on accurate and steadfast data to help charities achieve the best outcomes – without it, the solutions offered by AI can be irrelevant or even damaging to the trust, reputation, and the overall effectiveness of the charity using it.

This new whitepaper between Cloud Direct and Charity Digital aims to help charities overcome this challenge, providing them with a clear seven-step roadmap for using AI to overcome fundraising obstacles. AI for good: How AI support fundraising, explores the various stages of the fundraising journey and where AI can help, including an in-depth look into the specific Microsoft AI tools that are needed.

The whitepaper also offers charities four key Microsoft-powered tips for charities to help them get their data ready ahead of their AI journey. Below, we explain the importance of these tips and why charities must think about AI strategically to get the most out of the technology.


Getting ready for AI in fundraising

As the whitepaper points out, data is already an integral part of fundraising. By analysing data, charities are able to communicate with their supporters in a way that suits them, identify potential donors from engagement with their content, learn the pain points in their donation journey, and much more.

But data must be maintained, especially when used with AI. Good data should be cleaned (with inaccurate, irrelevant, and duplicate data removed) to prevent misleading or inaccurate results. “Before charities can adopt AI effectively to build better supporter experiences, and as a result raise more funds, they must first get their data in order,” the whitepaper says. “AI’s outcomes are only as good as the data it’s fed.”

Data security should also be a priority for charities ahead of AI adoption. The risk of data breaches when charities use AI is a significant concern for the public, according to research from Charities Aid Foundation. With around a third of charities experiencing a cyber breach or attack in the last 12 months, organisations must be able to ensure their data is secure within whatever technology they are using to process it.

The whitepaper states that there are four key areas to ensure data is properly maintained before use with AI: data integration, data governance, data preparation, and data monitoring at security. The whitepaper also highlights relevant tools from Microsoft Cloud Technology that can support charities in these aims.

For example, data integration requires charities to bring together data from multiple sources to gain a fuller picture of how the charity is performing. Azure services such as Azure SQL Database and Azure Data Lake Storage can store and manage data, keeping it accessible and secure for all users.

Data governance is about ensuring the quality of data through how it is used and putting policies in place to help everyone in the organisation play a role in protecting and maintaining it. Data preparation is about removing outdated or duplicate data and addressing missing data, with the help of tools such as Azure Data Factory, Databricks, or Synapse Analytics. And, finally, data monitoring and security require charities to continually monitor data quality to ensure reliability and compliance, using software such as Azure Monitor and Security Center. Azure has many data security-specific tools that can help charities with encryption, access controls, and more to safeguard data throughout its lifecycle.

The whitepaper highlights many other tools that can help charities with challenges related to AI and offers more tips for preparing for a more technologically advanced future, including how to budget for and modernise applications. You can download the full report by completing the form on this page.

Download whitepaper