Every Nonprofit Faces Unique Fundraising Challenges. What if AI Can Create Your Own Path to Success?

Let’s ponder a puzzle. Consider three different organizations:

  1. Champlain College, a private institution in Vermont.
  2. Children’s Minnesota, one of the largest pediatric healthcare systems.
  3. The Smith Center, an arts and entertainment hub in Southern Nevada (not the kind you find on the Vegas Strip!).

Now for tricky part. Can you name what three things these very diverse organizations have in common? First, they are all nonprofits, relying on charitable gifts for their worthy missions. Second, they all face fundraising challenges unique to their non-profit sector niche. Third, they all thrived through embracing the power of DonorSearch AI.

The last point has special relevance to nonprofits deluged with messaging about “one size fits all” fundraising solutions. Nonprofits devoted to education, healthcare, and the arts—not to mention, practically every other type of philanthropic organization—have all benefited greatly from adopting DonorSearch AI. The reason? Our expert team groks the unique challenges of unique nonprofits, each working to support their own good works.

As DonorSearch Senior Vice President Nathan Chappell explains, “AI and custom algorithms are fantastic tools. But they must be applied correctly by each nonprofit. Just as a hammer isn’t useful when you really need a saw, the DonorSearch approach is to work with clients to better understand their specific fundraising challenges. Once we know that, we can bring an entire toolkit of AI-driven solutions to create actionable data and drive success.”

While some factors impacting the fundraising process are truly specific to individual organizations, many are related to the nonprofit’s field of endeavor. To use the examples we’ve already touched on, fundraising can wildly differ between a private college, a healthcare system, and a center for the arts. Before focusing on how DonorSearch can make a difference in your own operations, let’s first consider what makes fundraising different for each of these sectors.


         Educational fundraisers are tasked with navigating complex (and varied) relationships with alumni. The latter can possess differing feelings towards their alma mater based on myriad factors, like if they feel they were well prepared to enter their particular career. Donor officers must also determine the strongest engagement points with the alumni community for effectiveness. Finally, they must avoid an overreliance on the largest donors to prevent disruption if their pattern of giving changes. Particularly at the K-12 level, a strong element of geography is in play too—most donors will live in a local area.


         Hospitals and healthcare systems typically possess large data sets about current and potential prospects. However, this data tends to be siloed in separate systems and not available for fundraising. While trying to harness this info, fundraisers must also follow HIPAA privacy guidelines at all times. Moreover, fundraisers must work hard to maintain positive engagement with physicians, especially to conduct grateful patient programs. If physician engagement falls, this initiative is doomed to fail.

The Arts

         Organizations in this sector often have a concentrated fundraising window. Example: during the run of an art exhibit or play. Siloed information is also a challenge. Another example: the subscribers to one musical series may not be correlated with those of another. Arts funding tends to also be highly local and correlated to a nonprofit’s level of institutional prestige.

How DonorSearch AI helps Nonprofits—No Matter their Sector—Thrive

         As discussed, although nonprofits possess unique fundraising challenges, organizations of vastly different focus have all thrived by partnering with DonorSearch AI. How? By utilizing AI and custom algorithms in a unique way, dovetailing with their fundraising cycle and existing community.

         As DonorSearch Executive Vice President and Co-Owner Sarah TeDesco explains, “Across every type of nonprofit, successful fundraising relies on developing strong relationships and community connections. At DonorSearch, we create agile workflows to creatively fit AI-generated data into what your organization is doing now. The result is more productive conversations to uncover tomorrow’s donors, including those you’ve never talked to before.”

         The Smith Center[MA1]  serves as an excellent example of how DonorSearch AI can help a powerhouse of the arts become stronger than ever. Like many nonprofits devoted to this sector, The Smith Center was hit hard by COVID-19. The pandemic resulted in a total shutdown of the organization’s theater. Senior Director for Annual Funds and Membership Carol Hollatz told DonorSearch, “We had an anticipated revenue loss of 40 million dollars, having to schedule, reschedule, and cancel almost 450 shows. During COVID, donations were the only revenue that were coming in.”

         One technique developed by DonorSearch and the Smith Center involved applying ratings to donors who made gifts during the shutdown. As Hollatz explains, “We were able to figure out who we should focus on, which was very helpful to us during that time. We are happy to say that those same members that gave to us during COVID, they are staying on with us during our reopening, which has been really fantastic.”

Hollatz also explains that DonorSearch AI played a key role in expanding her organization’s monthly donor program, a prime contributor to financial stability, especially when contributions are not tied to a particular show or exhibit. In fact, she told us her monthly donor numbers doubled: “I think once everybody realized that each of those gifts was times 12 forever… that’s gold!”

The Smith Center’s success in navigating a difficult situation and emerging as a stronger organization with a more engaged community offers an excellent example as to how DonorSearch AI can be customized to make an immediate impact on fundraising for every nonprofit. To learn how we can help your organization with its own fundraising challenges, contact DonorSearch for a demo today. And if you’re an experienced non-profit professional interested in helping new nonprofits build for future success daily, consider a career with DonorSearch.

 [MA1]The link has a youtube vid, if that can be embedded its even better.

Additional Resources

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