Artificial Intelligence to Recruit and Fundraise

2 minute read

Marie-Line Germain, HR Consulting Initiative

Through the HR Consulting Initiative at Western Carolina University, some of our nonprofit clients (including Center Members) have sought advice on how to recruit employees more effectively. To recruit (and to fundraise), Artificial Intelligence has proven to be effective.

An overwhelming number of HR executives believe that within the next few years, Artificial Intelligence (AI) will work next to humans in their organizations (Accenture’s 2018 Technology Vision). AI broadly refers to programs, computers, and machines that perform ‘intelligent’ tasks include planning, learning, reasoning, problem-solving, knowledge representation, perception, motion, and manipulation. In HR, AI is increasingly used in recruiting and training.

One of the simplest uses of AI is chatbots - services that use AI and that you interact with via a chat interface. They use messaging services such as Messenger, Slack, or Telegram. Large organizations often use them in the first phase of recruitment. Chatbots also accept donations and can deliver personalized care to donors and potential donors around the clock.

Additionally, AI can help nonprofits gather data and better use it to advance their missions and solve specific societal problems. For example, a nonprofit that helps individuals at risk of self-harm and suicide can use AI to label content on social media to determine who is at risk. In this instance, Crisis Text Line’s service has reported that the term “ibuprofen” is 16 times more likely to predict the need for emergency aid than the word “suicide.”

Many nonprofits are already experiencing some of AI’s impact. Now is the time to get on board. Here is how:

  • Create a chatbot. Messaging apps are growing fast. Facebook Messenger, for example, is used by over 1.3 billion people and it is growing faster than Facebook. This presents a big opportunity for nonprofit organizations. Your chatbot can handle donations, member registrations, and give out information about programs and services.
  • Personalize the communication with prospects and donors. AI can personalize the donor journey with tailored, personal messages based on actual, real-time donor behavior. These personalized messages, shown to donors at very specific moments, could encourage more people to contribute to your nonprofit.
  • Use AI to analyze donor data. Smart use of data can help push what’s possible in an organization. For example, AI can help analyze data to predict a potential donor’s likelihood to give a major gift by looking at their giving and volunteering history, event attendance, affiliations, relationships, and even data from wealth screening tools (
  • Use AI to recruit and train. Nonprofits with more lavish budgets can use AI to assist with the first phase of employee recruitment (screening) and to deliver employee training. This is particularly attractive to nonprofits that do no have dedicated HR personnel on staff.

Dr. Marie-Line Germain is the founder of the HR Consulting Initiative and Associate Professor of Human Resources and Leadership at Western Carolina University.

In Western Carolina University's Master in Human Resources (MSHR) program, graduate students (many of whom are already working as HR managers) learn how AI is changing the face of HR and how to become effective HR consultants. Since 2011, over 700 MSHR students have developed almost 300 HR consulting projects for 184 organizations in 17 states, at no cost and entirely online. Center Members have access to pro bono HR consulting through the HR Consulting Initiative. To learn more, contact the Center or Dr. Marie-Line Germain.

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