Even before COVID-19 and the ensuing economic situation, donor engagement was changing as donors and prospective donors expected more personalized outreach to cut through the noise and grab their attention. Now, that change is accelerating dramatically as fundraising departments expect not just personalization but also customization from their prospect outreach solution. Not to mention that fundraising organizations are potentially struggling with reduced staff or greater needs for support during this time.
Then again, some things remain the same. A fundraising team’s time is still best spent talking to and building relationships with donors and prospects. Realizing this, it’s in your organization’s best interest to utilize intelligent automation to extend personalized outreach, improve processes and accelerate handraisers. Fortunately, there is one technology helping fundraising organizations do just that—an Intelligent Virtual Assistant (IVA).
During a recent webinar titled How to Strengthen Your Fundraising During Tough Times with an Intelligent Virtual Assistant, Amelia Farber (Director, Conversica), John Pepperdine (Principal, MPW Strategies), Matt Wasserman (Principal & Founder, MPW Strategies) discuss how IVAs help fundraising organizations survive today, revive tomorrow and thrive in the future.
What Intelligent Virtual Assistants Mean for Online Fundraising Teams
Perhaps one silver lining of the current situation (if there is one), is that now is a great time for organizations to inspect their business processes for today, plan for tomorrow, and innovate for the future. Fundraising teams have always been forced to do more with less—and those demands are even greater now. The best thing fundraising teams can do for themselves is to adopt innovations that serve them today into tomorrow.
Organizations of all types utilize intelligent automation to provide greater clarity and analysis into their processes, as well as provide scalability and optimize those processes. An Intelligent Virtual Assistant is another form of intelligent automation helping fundraising organizations better optimize their donor outreach by utilizing intelligent automation.
How do Intelligent Virtual Assistants work? Intelligent Virtual Assistants help fundraisers by automating many of the redundant, yet important tasks that people either don’t want to do or don’t do well.
For instance, the average number of attempts to convert a prospect into a donor is between eight and 15 touches over a long period of time. The average person moves on after just two to three attempts. And who can blame them? Nobody wants to feel like they are spending time chasing unresponsive prospects. Fortunately, an IVA can autonomously manage contact follow up with persistence and politeness, time after time.
Contacts can opt-out of email or text conversations at any time by simply stating that they are not interested or clicking an unsubscribe button at the bottom of the email. Filtering out uninterested contacts is just as important as identifying passionate donors because it saves time and effort within your teams. Furthermore, IVAs confirm donor contact information such as phone numbers and updates those in your preferred CRM.
At the moment the prospective donor shares their intent to speak to someone, the IVA passes the handraiser to a real person. The IVA chases the prospective donor and your development officer brings them onboard as a new donor or discusses expanding their support.
Following the scheduled meeting or call, the IVA follows up again to make sure the contact got everything they needed. This ensures that the meeting took place and that the contact is happy with the interaction. In this way, the IVA acts as a safety net ensuring that handraisers don’t fall through the cracks and that donors feel valued. And in these chaotic times, ensuring no prospect is left behind is incredibly valuable.
By automating repetitive tasks such as sending outgoing messages to potential donors and updating contact information, IVAs provide an extra pair of virtual hands to share the workload. AI helps tee up conversations at scale, so your fundraising teams can focus on talking to donors and prospects.
Better still, IVAs outperform mass email blasts and general nurture campaigns in open rates, engagement and conversions due to the fact that IVAs deliver personalized, two-way conversations, whereas the aforementioned solutions are one-way communications that lack personalized and unique messaging. While IVAs come with ready-generated conversations out of the box, they are easily customized for specific campaigns.
Adopting an Intelligent Virtual Assistant is helpful in the near term as fundraisers are hard at work checking in with donors, shifting in-person events to virtual events, or launching COVID-specific crisis campaigns. But no matter how developed or unique your fundraising techniques are, you need to optimize to ensure the widest reach, greatest engagement and wide scalability.
The Augmented Workforce: Optimizing Fundraising for the Short-Term and the Long-Term
An Intelligent Virtual Assistant is more than a stop-gap solution. It’s an essential pillar of an Augmented Workforce in which people and technology work in tandem to drive top-line growth, greater productivity and efficiency, and employee happiness. Intelligent Virtual Assistants can be used at any point during the donor lifecycle. These benefits associated with these objectives extend into the long term for fundraising organizations. In this way, Intelligent Virtual Assistants can be instrumental in your organization’s planning for recovery and revival.
For example, the YMCA of Florida’s First Coast adopted an Intelligent Virtual Assistant from Conversica to help them generate more revenue for their organization. The onboarding process was straightforward and quick, taking only 14 days to get up and running. Within the first 90 days, the YMCA of Florida’s First Coast engaged 21 percent more contacts, helped move more prospects by 44 percent, and generated $90K in new revenue in the first 90 days. All in all, their Conversica AI Assistant helped deliver a better prospect experience, a better employee experience and better business results.
Conversica is used by a number of nonprofit organizations, schools and businesses to accelerate top-line growth at scale, thus enabling employees to enjoy more productivity and better outcomes.
Examples of applications for a Conversica Fundraising AI Assistant include:
- CULTIVATE Interest in Giving
- ACTIVATE Unresponsive Donors and Prospects
- REGAIN Lapsed Donors
- CONVERT Pledges to Gifts
- COLLECT Donor Feedback
- VERIFY Donor Information
- RETAIN Existing Donors
- UPGRADE Existing Donors
- PRE-EVENT Outreach
- POST-EVENT Engagement
“Through personalized, polite, and persistent two-way communication, we are confident that IVA’s will greatly enhance donor and prospect engagement and give fundraisers the time to do what they do best: connect with qualified donors and prospects and build relationships toward giving,” says Matt Wasserman. “Furthermore, the IVA brings personalized engagement to annual giving and event promotion.”
Calling All Online Fundraising Pioneers!
Conversica and MPW Strategies invite all fundraising pioneers to pilot the Fundraising AI Assistant to help them attract, acquire and grow fundraising at scale. While Conversica caters to a wide array of industries, we understand that different verticals require different price points and features to help them accomplish their goals. For these reasons, Conversica is offering a first-year discount to fundraising pioneers leveraging the Fundraising AI Assistant within their organizations.
Conversica and MPW Strategies are happy to work with our pioneers to customize their Intelligent Virtual Assistants to best meet their needs, provide relief during the present moment, and assist with recovery plans for development teams. Contact Amelia Farber ([email protected]) and Matt Wasserman ([email protected]) today to discuss what an Intelligent Virtual Assistant might mean for your fundraising team.
And for a deeper dive into how Conversica, MPW Strategies, and Intelligent Virtual Assistants help augment fundraising teams, watch the How to Strengthen Your Fundraising During Tough Times with an Intelligent Virtual Assistant webinar today.