By: Sam O'Brien, Senior Website Optimisation & User Experience Manager for EMEA at RingCentral
Communication is key for improving engagement. You want your donors and stakeholders to be able to get in touch with you quickly and easily. You’ve likely already invested in a VoIP landline and live chat software. Now it’s time to start automating things. Enter chatbots.
Chatbots are the future of communication. They can be used to boost engagement, answer queries, and drive donations. There are over 300,000 chatbots on Facebook Messenger, covering a whole range of industries. From ordering a pizza to booking a flight, everything can be automated. What is business intelligence without a good chatbot to make full use of the insights?
It’s important not to lose sight of your nonprofit’s core values. You can still implement automation without getting rid of human connection and empathy. Automation and chatbots will never replace human interaction, that's not the world we want to live in! But they can streamline the process and help make sure your donors are speaking to the right human.
Here are seven ways chatbots can improve stakeholder engagement for nonprofits.
1. Reach a younger audience
Generation Z are serious players when it comes to charity giving. They’re no longer children donating their spare pocket money. They’ve been nicknamed “philanthroteens”, and your nonprofit needs them.
By using click-to-Messenger ads and sponsored messages, you can target specific demographics. This allows you to seek out these budding benefactors and engage with them immediately using a chatbot.
2. Increase donations
Donating to your charity needs to be as easy as possible. Any barrier to entry could potentially result in a lost sponsor. Facebook Messenger is the world’s second favorite messaging app with over 1.3 billion users. So taking donations via Messenger has the potential to vastly improve stakeholder engagement.
In 2016, Charity: Water became the first charity to take donations using a Messenger chatbot. Charity: Water seem to be pioneers when it comes to charities and the digital world. They were the first nonprofit to hit one million followers on Twitter, and they've been nailing automation. If they’re doing something then it’s probably a good trend to jump on!
Image credit: Fast Company
3. Promote your merchandise
While donations are great, some people will want a little something in return. From t-shirts to tote bags, you may well already be selling charity merchandise. If you’re a software company, you can boost your SaaS SEO to increase sales there, but how do you boost direct sales? Having a chatbot pop up with your latest releases and product reviews can be a great way to drive sales and improve stakeholder engagement.
4. Answer FAQs
Most websites have a dusty, long-forgotten FAQ page buried somewhere in the footer. Visitors have to scroll through pages of irrelevant questions before finding what they’re looking for. Even when the information is up to date and accurate, this still isn’t an engaging way of interacting with your stakeholders.
By programming these questions and answers into a chatbot, you can have visitors type in their queries as if they were using a live chat. The chatbot can then provide them with the most relevant answer and can be a vital part of the new online learning tools. If you don’t have an answer pre-programmed in, it’s not a problem!
The visitor is already using your chatbot. You can simply put them through to live chat or provide them with a contact form if they’re visiting out of hours. Either way, they will have been provided with a much more personal and tailored service than a traditional FAQ page.
5. Increase security
You can have the most high-tech cybersecurity in the world, and it still won’t be able to prevent human error. As a charity, you’ll be dealing with a lot of sensitive information. You may have salary information for your donors, as well as their addresses and contact information. This is exactly the type of information that is vulnerable to a phishing attack.
You can use chatbots as a barrier against this. Any potential phishers will come up against the chatbot and will be unable to exploit human error. For additional security, use segmentation. This will ensure your chatbot doesn’t even have access to sensitive information.
6. Tell a story
A great way to boost engagement is by telling a story. Using a chatbot can be a unique and effective way to do this. You can share impactful stories with stakeholders to give them a deeper understanding of how their donations help and where their money goes.
Once again, Charity: Water has led the way here with their “Walk With Yeshi” experience. The Facebook Messenger bot simulated what it was like to walk for two and a half hours to find clean water. This was not only a way to improve stakeholder engagement and provide a glimpse into the water crisis, but it also boosted press and PR coverage.
Image credit: Lokai Live
7. Streamline applications
Receiving volunteer applications is wonderful, but processing these applications by phone or email is time-consuming and tiresome. As we move to a more digital world, we need to find better ways of managing forms and applications.
The healthcare sector seems to have found a solution to this. What is telemedicine doing differently? They’re using chatbots to get patient information ahead of appointments. Symptom checkers can cut down on the amount of time a patient is spending with a doctor and reduce unnecessary administrative processes.
The nonprofit sector can do the same thing. Instead of checking for symptoms, we can check volunteer availability and suitability, all using a chatbot. This means volunteers can be vetted and organized without using up valuable time and resources.
Chatbots and live chat software are transforming all industries, and we need to ensure the nonprofit sector doesn’t get left behind. With around 1.4 billion people using them, chatbots aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. As Millennials make way for Generation Z, a feature-rich chatbot is going to be more important than ever.
About the Author
Sam O'Brien is the Senior Website Optimisation & User Experience Manager for EMEA at RingCentral, a Global VoIP service, video conferencing and call centre software provider. Sam has a passion for innovation and loves exploring ways to collaborate more with dispersed teams. He has written for websites such as SAP and Revenue River.