Meet the AI Bot Helping Malala Change the World
The world of nonprofits always seems to be caught in a catch-22. In order to keep their work going, funds need to be applied towards administration. But, in doing so, funds are directed away from the cause itself, preventing nonprofits from accomplishing what they set out to do in the first place.
But, thanks to innovative thinking, this problem is being solved.
Today, intelligent nonprofits are leveraging bots to reduce costs while simultaneously increasing their reach. These same bots are also showing to effectively enhance interactions with donors, volunteers, and the community, creating more opportunities for consistent and mindful contact.
Matt Fender, the digital strategist behind the Malala campaign, is one of these innovators. Wanting to meet Malala’s supporters on their preferred communication channels rather than scaling email and phone campaigns (which can be costly), Fender created bots as an AI solution, leveraging APIs for necessary payment gateways.
These bots leapfrogged much of the formerly associated expenses and negative interactions, allowing donors to easily set up recurring donations without needing to go out of their way or feel as if they are being spammed.
This is exactly what good UX is all about.
By making powerful technology disappear in front of users, bots, like Fender’s, are able to provide services without tainting the interaction. And, when you have someone has powerful as Malala on the other side of technology, connecting users directly to her, rather than making them feel like they are going through a middleman, is the name of the game.
Malala Yousafzia, named the youngest Nobel Prize laureate for her efforts in advancing female education around the globe, is an unstoppable voice in feminist activism. Nearly killed by a Taliban gunman at the age of fifteen because of her fearlessness to speak out against opposition, Malala has become a global symbol for the importance of female education.
The Malala Fund, the nonprofit Fender is a part of, is a leading organization bringing advocacy, investment and awareness to initiatives that help to balance the scales in the world of international education. Like most nonprofits, the Malala Fund was limited in resources, both technologically and financially.
But, unlike many nonprofits, it didn’t accept its fate, instead innovating its bots to help advance its cause fueled by the power of technology.
Although ill-equipped in terms of developers and programmers (and funds), Malala’s team managed to create sophisticated technology solutions, becoming early adopters of advanced tools that are now allowing them to better achieve their goals.
Today, Malala’s chatbots are finding ways to digest website information, like that on its FAQ page, to help answer questions and manage general inquiries, therefore increasing the likelihood of receiving donations. These AI-powered bots can also engage with volunteers, managing intake, scheduling, and training, while also connecting people with live agents as needed.
Even without the expertise most people believe is required to create this type of innovative tech solution, the Malala Fund is continuing to blaze the trail for nonprofits, improving the way individuals connect to causes they believe in.
Nonprofits want to put the majority of their raised funds toward their cause, not towards the administration of working on their cause.
Bots reduce cost while increasing the scale and quality of the interactions with donors, volunteers and community. For example, a bot that can schedule/reschedule volunteers and provide reminders to get people prepared and in the right places at the right times. A bot won’t forget to check in with donor on their giving anniversary, and can even facilitate a new gift or even set up recurring donations.
In Malala’s case they started out doing with a major win against something every non profit struggles with – little to no technology resources. They used bots as a means to leapfrog. Without the need for technical resources or heavy budgets they created leading edge technology – it was easy and fast enough that they almost missed recognizing that they had pioneered something very innovative. They didn’t need developers or programmers – they were early adopters in using tools that allow organizations to create sophisticated technology solutions without having technology resources.
Good UX is about making powerful technology disappear – wherein technology resources aren’t a factor.
“When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.” – Malala
Malala Yousafzia – her work and story likely is familiar, if her name isn’t.
Youngest Nobel Prize laureate for efforts in advancing female education
At 15 years old, Malala had already been covered by the New York Times for her activism in female education
Thereafter, her life was nearly taken by a Taliban gunman.
Became stronger in her recovery – becoming a global symbol for activism in female education.
The Malala Fund today is a leading organization bringing advocacy, investment and awareness to initiatives that contribute to evening the scales for female education around the world.
Historically nonprofits generally haven’t been strong in using technology to advance their mission
Limited technology resources and dollars
Not much innovative use
Over last 20 years, engaging donors and volunteers mainly consisted of email campaigns, events and SMS marketing/blasts
“Mobile giving/donations” essentially meant SMS marketing (outbound blasts directing recipients to visit their website), or inaccessible and limited services wherein carriers automatically add the intended donation of a mobile customer to the fees on their monthly bill.
Malala’s team of pioneers pushed the boundaries on how non-profits use technology.
Were early adopters of chatbots – pioneered some of the ways chatbots can be used by non profits
Digital strategist Matt Fender knew that Malala fund needed to meet supporters on their prefered communication channels.
Matt didn’t believe that asking supporters for donations via email and/or manually calling them (in a day when most people don’t prefer such methods) would lead to the success and scaling the needed in engaging donors and volunteers
Quickly iterated through their first chatbot and artificial intelligence solutions
Matt and his team created chatbots that could leverage API’s for payment gateways
Allowed them to bypass complicated, limiting and expensive need for carrier-billing solutions
Could now avoid the off-putting experience of texting donors only to tell them to donate on some other communication channel.
Donors could now use chatbots to give and set up recurring donations in addition to getting other information, all within the same messaging experience.
Malala fund paved the way for many possibilities for how chatbots and AI can be used to further the goals of non-profits
Bots can now consume all the information on a nonprofit’s website or FAQ page
Bots can manage general inquiries, via website (web-chat), facebook page, SMS, phone and other messaging and voice channels (Amazon Echo)
Bots are easier to make now – require little to no programming/coding
Now, even though a nonprofit might have limited funds and tech resources, they can still create chatbots that enable them to do stuff as if they did!
Bots can consume all the data in CRM’s so that all inquires and transactions are personalized and customized based on what’s already known about the donor/volunteer in SalesForce (for ex)
Bots can engage and manage volunteer intake, scheduling, training and support
Bots can be trained to facilitate donations inquiries and complete transactions
Can operate on whatever logic they’re trained to have – can connect donor to a live agent if donation is over a certain amount