When we say “chatbots”, we’re talking about those friendly little widgets in the corner of a website that pop up offering help or guidance to unsuspecting website visitors. The hard evidence supporting chatbots is there: website visitors are 82% more likely to pull out their wallet if they’re engaged in live chat.
Can you guess how many nonprofits use chatbots?
So who uses chatbots, anyway, if NGOs aren't taking advantage? The easy answer is SaaS companies or technology enterprises—companies with difficult-to-use products, whose customers might need a little help in their efforts to make the most of their subscription.
The easy answer, however, is the wrong answer this time—as it often is in life, but we’ll moralize another time. Customers and donors use chatbots. People who want to reach an organization’s representative as quickly as possible.
If there’s even the slightest chance one of your prospective donors might want to talk to a representative from your nonprofit when they visit, you should consider adding a chatbot to your nonprofit’s website. Consider it a further step along your journey to digital fluency.
Could adding a chatbot to your website be your nonprofit’s next step towards digital fluency? “Are chatbots really integral to digital fluency?” you ask, with a bit of a smirk on your face. “I wouldn’t consider them a core fundraising tool.” Before you become even more dubious—and by the way, thank you for letting me put words in your mouth, reader!—consider this: digital fluency doesn’t mean becoming proficient with a predetermined set of core digital fundraising tools. It means translating the old way of operating a nonprofit into the new language of digital-first fundraising and finding ways to use technology to support the infrastructure digital-first fundraising necessitates.
We’ll concede that chatbots are not a core digital fundraising tool. As long as you have a website, a donation form, and a donor CRM, you’re ready to start collecting the funds you need to support your nonprofit’s mission over the world wide web. But digital fluency is about taking a digital-first approach to encouraging prospects to become donors, and encouraging donors to...well, to keep donating. Chatbots meet your donors where they already are—your nonprofit’s website—and make it easy for your donors to reach out to your organization with any questions that suddenly come to mind.
That sounds like it just might contribute to your nonprofit’s digital fluency.
Here’s a few things about chatbots that’ll put a smile on your face.
Chatbots make it easier than ever for your website visitors to engage with your nonprofit.
If a prospect has a question, he/she/they no longer have to make the emotional commitment of making a phone call to your nonprofit’s office, awkwardly making small talk with whoever picks up the phone, getting the information they need, and then even more awkwardly excusing themselves to take another phone call.
Nope! Instead, adding a chatbot to your nonprofit’s website enables prospective donors to simply type out their question, receive an answer, and then go on their merry way (hopefully over to your donation form.) Much more efficient, right?
Chatbots are super easy to install.
That’s right! High-tech though these widgets may be, a chatbot’s installation is as easy as copy and pasting a little bit of code your chatbot provider will provide.
Responding to chatbot messages won't suck up all of your team's time. Prospective donors are likely to use the chatbot instead of calling your nonprofit’s office. The time once spent fielding phone calls could be partially replaced by typing answers into your end of the chatbot—and that’s likely to take a lot less time than a phone call.
Let’s put on our “digital fluency” goggles, unicorns. Chatbots undoubtedly give your prospects, your website browsers, and your existing donors a quick and easy way of reaching one of your nonprofit’s staffers nearly instantly. Any question they might have had that might have stopped them in their donating-tracks can be answered almost instantly; the donor journey remains entirely on your website, without any need to hop over to the phone or to an email client.
While chatbots aren't a core digital fundraising tool—you’ll be able to collect donations without one, you’ll be able to keep track of your donors and historical trends without it; and you’ll be able to get the word out about your nonprofit’s mission without a chatbot—they're still undeniably useful.
A smoother donor journey means a bigger budget for your nonprofit’s mission. In the grand scheme of things, it takes very little effort to add and operate a chatbot on your nonprofit’s website—but it might make converting from a prospect to a donor a lot easier for someone who could have gone either way.