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Artificial intelligence to help solve fundraising challenges in 2022


8 December 2021 at 4:42 pm
Paul Ronalds
Save the Children CEO Paul Ronalds explains why the organisation decided to invest in Dataro.


Paul Ronalds | 8 December 2021 at 4:42 pm


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Artificial intelligence to help solve fundraising challenges in 2022
8 December 2021 at 4:42 pm

Save the Children CEO Paul Ronalds explains why the organisation decided to invest in Dataro.

The world in which we operate today is almost unrecognisable to the world as it was when I started as CEO of Save the Children almost a decade ago.

We are operating in a world of COVID, climate change and increased conflict. All of which are on a trajectory to get worse before they get better.

The “unprecedented” times we live in have led to unprecedented demand for our services.

OCHA Global Humanitarian Overview 2021 data revealed a record 235 million people would need humanitarian assistance and protection this year. That’s one in 33 people worldwide – a near 40 per cent increase from 2020. 

But buckle up because 2022 is likely to be our most challenging year yet.

To make matters worse, as need is rising the number of people giving to charity in Australia has hit a 40-year low. 

It’s the great paradox for Australian NGOs, at the very time when need is growing so rapidly our resources and resolve to deal with it are wavering the most. 

Thankfully, the data shows that those who are giving are generally giving more. This has helped us bridge the gap so far.

But there are cracks appearing in the dam walls. And I don’t think we are really ready for what will happen if the dam walls burst.

Fundraising is a relatively small amount of revenue for the overall sector but it’s the critical bit. It’s the magic dust that gives us the flexibility to be agile and responsive. In other words, it helps us fix the cracks.

The falling number of Australians donating, the restrictions imposed because of COVID and archaic fundraising laws, has created the perfect storm for NGOs that rely on fundraising.

In response, the sector must harness the data and digital revolution to improve its fundraising communication.

It’s ironic that as global communication has become so much cheaper, algorithm filtered news feeds means we are less exposed than ever to what is happening to the most vulnerable fellow humans.

This is one of the reasons Save the Children has decided to use technology to fight technology and invested in Dataro through our flagship Impact Investment Fund.

Dataro uses data science and machine learning to improve fundraising outcomes.

The software predicts the behaviour of every donor, so charities know exactly who to contact, and when. Essentially, it helps connect messages with the audiences that want to hear them.

This in turn helps charities to raise more money, faster, and at less cost, ultimately allowing them to achieve more.

Fundraising has been ripe for disruption and innovation for some time. The pandemic has now triggered it.

Existing fundraising models are based on old fashioned data practices that too often rely on a digital scattergun approach.

Dataro saw this as an opportunity to utilise AI-driven technology to do something different. Using machine learning, it draws on hundreds of inputs to discover insights in de-identified data to connect the right donors with the right causes.

Dataro integrates with existing donor management systems and can be used for anything from small direct mail appeals to major giving campaigns.

As an impact investor Save the Children Australia is focused on driving solutions to some of the world’s most complex problems.

Not for profits are at the forefront of this innovation but are often hindered by their access to funding.

By investing in Dataro, we believe we can help more charities utilise AI learning to achieve the impact they seek and the community needs.

As both a customer of Dataro and an investor, there is a unique role Save the Children can play in testing features before they launch.

For Save the Children, the more efficiently we can raise money the more children we can reach across Australia and around the world.

In Australia, as COVID restrictions have lifted, vaccine rates increased and borders opened, we are experiencing a moment of optimism. But realistically, 2022 is shaping up to be more challenging than the previous two years combined.

We are going to need every tool in the toolbox to end COVID for all, navigate a shrinking humanitarian space and tackle the climate crisis.


Paul Ronalds  |  @PaulDRonalds

Paul Ronalds is group CEO of Save the Children in Australia.

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