Can ChatGPT Help Write Fundraising Appeals?
Can ChatGPT Help Write Fundraising Appeals?

Can ChatGPT Help Write Fundraising Appeals?

02/10/2023 by Ed Gray
Questions and answers on how marketers are now using this new tool.

If you are on the internet, then you have probably heard of ChatGPT. The latest release of OpenAI’s text-generating robot has astonished the public with its ability to code applications and write better blog posts than us obsolete humans. While technically “free” to use, ChatGPT will continue to be trained by our input to become even more powerful.

How ChatGPT will help solve and possibly create new problems for society in the future remains unknown – but I do know nonprofits often struggle to write enough email content to take full advantage of their marketing automation tools. It's easy for Pardot and Marketing Cloud to create segments of donors. It’s less easy to consistently create enough content tailored to those segmented donors’ interests – let alone A/B test variations of content. 

So can ChatGPT help busy nonprofits generate email content more efficiently? Let’s see whether this feeble human can ask the right questions of these wizardly robots to write fundraising appeals for a fictional environmental advocacy organization.

To start, I simply asked ChatGPT to “write a fundraising email for planting more Mangrove trees” and here are the results:ChatGPT Screenshot Fundraising Emails

The result is already at least as good as 90% of the fundraising emails flooding my inbox – it gives a compelling reason for wanting to plant more Mangrove trees and an explanation of how donations can help. 

You could probably add a donation button or link and be done with it – but what if I wanted to enhance the email with some interesting details about Mangrove trees? 

I’m not an arborist, just a marketer, but with ChatGPT I can simply ask “How much more carbon does a mangrove tree capture than other trees?” and here are the results:

Screenshot of a window from ChatGPT showing text response from the service after user asks for help to write an email

In just a few seconds, I now have an interesting fact about Mangrove trees to copy and paste parts of into the fundraising email from before. The latest version of ChatGPT was trained using 570 gigabytes of data from books and the internet in late 2021. 

While you can rely on it for general knowledge, ChatGPT can “hallucinate” or make up facts or sources when it doesn’t know the answer. You will still want to spend time vetting the content before sending the email.

Some donors aren’t interested in planting Mangrove trees though. They want to support community solar projects in New York instead. Can ChatGPT help write another fundraising email that quickly again?

While it is already comparable to most fundraising emails churned out by some nonprofits, it appears that the more specific our appeal, the more assistance ChatGPT will need from us humans. Remember, the language model wasn’t trained using the entire internet or most up-to-date sources – that would be impossible with today’s technology (and a little scary).

If you’re like me and struggle with that first draft of copy, it’s still a useful place to start. You could edit the draft to include the exact name of the solar project and cite research on cost savings – or you could ask ChatGPT a broader question instead:

Screenshot of ChatGPT image with text input from user asking for help to write a marketing email

In less than five minutes, I was able to generate enough copy to create two distinct emails to send my donor segments. Of course, copy is only one part of a fundraising email, you’ll still need to place some images, call-to-action buttons, and links – but writing enough copy is where I see most organizations get stuck.

Interested in working with Arkus to use ChatGPT, Jasper, or other AI copy-generating tools with Marketing Cloud to raise money and awareness for your cause? What questions does this raise for you? Reach out to Arkus or myself on LinkedIn.