Charities and chatbots. How is automation changing this industry?


The growing popularity of chatbots is largely due to one last major trend. with the rise of messaging apps.

Messaging apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat and Viber are used by more than three billion people every month. This is astounding when you consider that social networks themselves, such as Facebook, do not even get these user numbers.

With their immense popularity, businesses are realizing the potential of messaging apps as a major new channel for sales, customer service and marketing. As people flock to messaging apps, it makes sense to use these channels to communicate with your customers.

In mid-2016, Facebook unveiled Messenger, which will allow companies (including nonprofits) to program their own chatbots for customer support, e-commerce referrals, content, and interactive experiences. By April 2017, over 100,000 Facebook Messenger bots had reached over 2 billion Facebook Messenger users.

Charitable organizations

Oftentimes, charities and nonprofits are inundated with customer service requests. Especially smaller scale charities who simply cannot afford to bring in large customer service teams for every enquiry. So they are increasingly using chatbots to make interactions with their user base cheaper and more responsive. As Chatbots automate round-the-clock responses, charities can respond to questions and inquiries 24/7, with the aim of freeing up staff to do work that requires human interaction.

Nonprofits are starting to use chatbots to increase their ability to communicate with supporters almost for free. Chatbots are available 24/7 to answer questions and hopefully free up staff to do other work. The ability of bots to relieve organizations of administrative tasks is not an incremental improvement. According to one estimate, “more than 30 percent of tasks can now be automated by chatbots.” It’s a huge change in how work is done and by whom within organizations.

Here’s how nonprofits are using chatbots:

FAQ: A bot that answers all the FAQs that charities or non-profits might ask every day. Duplicate requests that take up valuable workforce time but rarely add much value. Questions such as: “Where are your offices?” “When is your next fundraising event?” All can be answered automatically with pre-configured messages from the bot. Moreover, you can integrate functionality manager bot.

  • Migration to live agents.
  • Chit chat
  • Multimedia (eg Google Maps, Youtube videos, etc…)

Donations: Chatbots have entered the realm of fundraising. There are many charities that use chatbots to get the user to donate. Allowing the user to simply ask “How can I donate?” Instead of wading through a complex, multi-layered website, charities or non-profits clearly have an advantage in this age of goldfish-sized attention. What’s more, the chatbot can be integrated with financial transfer programs that come with programs like paypal, stripe or apple pay, making donating easier than ever before.

Education: Chatbots are often used for educational schemes, either raising awareness for specific causes or digital literacy. For example, the charity Mencap, as part of the ‘Here I Am’ campaign, designed a chatbot to help people discover more about learning disabilities, and more specifically to help break down stereotypes and misinformed assumptions. Chatbots like Mencap can provide visual and emotional ways to tell a story to help people understand the real problems your work addresses and overcomes.

Usage statistics. Chatbots give charities and nonprofits the tools to better understand their customers with real-time insights from the valuable data they collect;

  • know who your customers are (demographic, language);
  • learn what they want and
  • be smarter with your data.

A good example of this in action is the World Food Program in Nigeria and Haiti using a chatbot to find out about local food prices and food security in their communities.


Times are changing. Automation is here to stay, and with it we will witness a radical change in the way organizations operate and interact with society. The charity sector tends to drag its feet when it comes to adopting new technologies. This is the time to be progressive and bold to ensure that new technologies improve our work, improve our relationships with supporters and activists and, most importantly, make a difference for better, not worse.

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