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AAAC Releases 2020 State of AI in Advancement Report

82% of advancement professionals believe AI will help solve challenges created by COVID-19 crisis

The AI in Advancement Advisory Council (AAAC), the first and leading council for artificial intelligence (AI) in nonprofit advancement, published the State of AI in Advancement report. The study builds on the benchmark report, first issued in 2019, and examines the accelerating need for AI to address workforce efficiency, the emergency of “digital” gift officers, pipeline generation, and more, in the context of a year of crises.

“Advancement leaders in 2020 acknowledged the need reassess our true North. The tried and true methods we used in the past to secure philanthropic support for our nonprofit organizations must adapt and innovate,” said Reed Sheard, Ed.D, CIO and Vice President of Advancement for Westmont College and Chair of the AAAC. “Finding a new model for successful fundraising and artificial intelligence presents an incredible opportunity to move significant donor relationships forward at scale. I’m incredibly proud to present this year’s State of AI in Advancement report along with my fellow AAAC members because it lays the foundation for transformative change in our industry.”

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During the COVID-19 crisis, the landscape of advancement changed dramatically. From staff and budget cuts to developing a new understanding of donor relations in a purely digital format, to reimagining how to significantly grow new pipeline in order to offset revenue disruption — in many ways advancement professionals are increasingly being pushed to transform how fundraising operates. The 2020 AAAC State of AI in Advancement report specifically examines these industry shifts and finds that 82 percent of advancement professionals believe AI is a part of the long-term solution.

“This year, more than any other, advancement as a whole has been forced to face the uncomfortable and adapt to ensure future growth. The intersection with artificial intelligence is inevitable,” said Adam Martel, CEO of Gravyty and AAAC member. “This year’s State of AI in Advancement not only proves the leaders are already adopting AI to solve their largest challenges, it also is an amazing guide that shows three exciting areas where AI is yielding tangible results.”

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The AAAC’s topline findings from the 2020 State of AI in Advancement include:

AI adoption is becoming a priority.

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  • 82% believe that AI will be part of the solution for challenges facing fundraising teams as a result of COVID-19
  • 66% of nonprofit organizations are considering investment in new tools and technologies to address challenges as a result of COVID-19.

There’s a new and accelerated need for workforce efficiency within advancement.

  • 73% of nonprofit organizations faced budget reductions and/or hiring freezes in 2020.

New roles within advancement are emerging.

  • 62% believe that some personnel will be shifted to the role of a digital gift officer.

As need for pipeline development grows, so does belief in AI.

  • 82% believe that AI can effectively prioritize and reach more prospects

The 2020 State of AI in Advancement report was compiled from the AAAC’s volunteer members. The data used for all sections of this report comes from surveys of advancement professionals conducted between March 3, 2020, and July 29, 2020. In total, 337 advancement professionals participated in these surveys. 

In addition, be on the lookout for the AAAC’s webinar series that takes an in-depth look at the findings uncovered in the past year and suggests how leaders can take advantage of AI for fundraising. 

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