I don’t think the AI robots are taking over yet.
You’ve probably heard all the buzz lately about the magic of AI.
And perhaps it’s because I’m a writer, but I don’t think these are the answer to your fundraising copywriting needs… or not THE answer.
AI: Garbage in… garbage out
First, while it all looks easy, what you get from automated intelligence is based on what you put in. There’s no magic wand; you need to know what you want before you start.
As John Carlton says in this piece:
The chatbots will respond to requests for anything by using the Internet. They aren’t coming up with original thoughts — they’re relying on optimized search results… and can’t judge the validity of the facts (or “facts”) behind the information they accumulate.
John Carlton, Are The Chatbots Coming For Your Job?
So if you’re not already clear about what you want to communicate, what you’ll get is pretty generic and unappealing. Not the way to build great donor relationships!
Seemingly small things, like particular words or formatting, can get lost. We see with human eyes and hearts… even if we can’t precisely describe what makes some communication feel warm and human.
Here’s an example I love of this: sometimes a letter with a typo gets a better response. Perhaps that one, small, typo signaled to donors’ brains that they were reading something written by a real person. (Here’s another good piece on the topic.)
Could you prompt for that? Probably. But would it pass the human test? I don’t know.
It’s not logical, Captain
Decades of practice and research have shown us that what moves people to act isn’t a great argument. You can’t rationalize someone into parting with their hard-earned money.
Communicating with donors is all about emotion. That’s our first language, and still the most powerful one. A newborn baby’s cry wakes a deeply sleeping mother – and triggers a cascade of hormones as well, to nudge mom to go care for her little one.
There are places for perfect reasoning, of course. Mathematics, maybe?
But humans are humans and even when we don’t like to believe it, most of our choices are made from our gut first. Then we rationalize them. And while I’m not a biologist or psychiatrist, I think the complexity of our emotions – and how they work together – is not something easily distilled into a computer program.
What makes us human isn’t so much the clarity of our thoughts as the unique symphony of our feelings – and how we act on them.
Here’s an example of a quick prompt I put into Canva’s Magic Write. The prompt was simple: write an acquisition appeal for an organization that helps save children’s sight.
And here’s what I got back:
Dear Friend of Children’s Sight,
We are writing to you today to ask for your help in preserving and restoring children’s sight. Every day, millions of children around the world are affected by vision-related conditions, ranging from congenital blindness to curable conditions like cataracts. However, these children often lack access to the medical care, treatments, or products they need to protect their vision. That’s why we need your help.
At our organization, we are dedicated to providing children with the resources they need to maintain healthy vision, from preventive care and treatments to corrective surgery and eyeglasses. With your generous contribution, we can continue to make a difference in the lives of children everywhere.
Your donation will make a lasting impact by providing children with access to vision care and aid in restoring their sight. It will also help to fund research and innovation in treatments for vision-related conditions. Your donation will help to ensure that children can continue to lead lives filled with exploration and discovery.
We thank you for your generosity in advance and sincerely hope that you will consider making a donation to our organization. Your contribution will make a world of difference in the lives of children everywhere.
The Children’s Sight Team
Granted, this reads like too many appeals that cross my path. Well meaning. Organized. Rational.
And unemotional. Impersonal.
Fundraising is about people, first
What I’m seeing lately coming from AI just can’t pass the human test. Perhaps it will, someday.
But even if that day comes, would we really want to go there?
The act of giving is not as simple as it might seem. There’s an interplay of someone’s needs with our own needs.
And yes, a donor has needs that giving fills! We need to feel good about ourselves. We need to see ourselves as kind people. And that’s powerful stuff. I like to think it’s built into us by our creator, but however it has developed, thank goodness for it.
Giving is rarely a rational proposition. We see need. We feel empathy. We want to help and choose to do so. Then we feel good about ourselves. Hormones at work, folks.
And that’s really the point, isn’t it?
Not just solving problems. But practicing how to human. Feeling for one another. Bringing people together. Giving of our abilities and wealth because it’s a good thing for everyone.
BUT… AI can help you put your thoughts in order before you write. And it can take something you’ve written and give you ideas for other uses.
See this post from my friend Julie Cooper.
I encourage people to use what I write for them in other ways. Break that appeal into bits and use it on social media, for example. This is where – with a bit of human tweaking – AI can be helpful.
Just keep your hand and heart in it. Because fundraising isn’t about extracting money from people. It’s about sharing our common humanity.
Photo by Phillip Glickman on Unsplash