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Fundraising Writing AI update (October edition)

Published 5 months agoΒ β€’Β 5 min read

Seasons change ... and so does AI? This is the 108th issue of the Fundraising Writing Newsletter. If you find value here, please tell your lovely peeps. (Your lovely peeps can ​subscribe here for free.)​

In this issue:

  • Fundraising Writing AI update (October edition)
  • Randomly yours: to inspire and recharge you
  • Win It in a Minute

Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Hi Reader,

I wonder: is it sweater weather by you?

We live in Northern Illinois, so it ought to be. But as I write this, it's 84 degrees and feels like summer. Yet temps are supposed to drop 25 degrees within the next few days.

Things change fast.

AI included.

AI especially.

And that's one reason I think it's high time for...


Fundraising Writing AI update (October edition)

Brett and I have very mixed feelings about AI.

On one hand, we worry about all kinds of ethical, catastrophic, and even existential risks related to its use.

On the other hand, we're realists. We believe that AI, like all useful tools, is a genie that will not be put back in the bottle. (Also, our using it or not won't cause the problems we worry about.)

So we use it. A lot.

Every day.

Not for polished writing but for things like brainstorming, summarizing, interview question ideas, and specialty tasks that help streamline our processes.

We could talk about the topic for days, but that seems excessive.

So, here's our baseline.

The ideal way to use AI in fundraising writing, we believe, is as a talented assistant. As Brett mentioned in this newsletter from March, it might help to think of yourself as the fundraising writing chef and AI as your sous chef.

That's our thought. And we're convinced: the faster we can work, the more we can pass on any savings to our clients.

Similarly: the more you leverage some of these powerful tools, the more good you can do for your good cause.

Let's do some more good!

Way #1 β€” GPT-4

If you can afford it, invest in ChatGPT Plus, which is powered by GPT-4.

Even though you might think it sounds like merely a slight increase in capability over the free ChatGPT, which uses GPT-3.5 Turbo, it's not. It's actually 10X more powerful.

Brett and I have paid the $20 ChatGPT Plus monthly fee since it was available on March 14th.

New features have been added recently: e.g.,

Additional features are currently rolling out to Plus users: the ability to upload, read, and analyze images, the ability to create images, and the ability to talk and listen to the AI's output in conversational format.

Okay, fine. But what for?

Good question. Here come the what-fors!

(Caveat: current AI will sound like an expert even when it is wrong, mediocre, or pretty bad β€” all of which happens occasionally. But it can also be a HUGE help.)

Brainstorming β€” AI never gets tired. If you don't like the first ideas you get, you can hit the "regenerate" button or just prompt it with "Give me more ideas" or "That's not bad, but I need ideas that will appeal more to donors than to board members" or whatever-you-can-think-of.
​
Actual prompt we used recently:

Drafting β€” We rarely use more than a phrase of AI output here and there . . . but getting a first draft quickly often helps to clear the mind. It's an artificial first domino that starts a productive chain reaction.
​
Actual prompt we used recently:

Summarizing β€” If you're like me, you're inundated with reading demands. Some are must-read. Others are uh-nope. Most fall somewhere in the skimmable middle.

Having AI do the first skim can be a real brain-saver. Once the mildly heavy lifting has been accomplished for you, you can decide whether to dive in yourself.

You can also use AI summaries to synthesize what you've already read, especially if time has passed and you need a reminder.
​
Actual prompt we used recently:

Headline / title / subtitle ideas β€” Sometimes you need ideas to get started. Other times you need ideas that are similar to one you already have. AI can handle it all.
​
Actual prompt we used recently:

Interview question ideas β€” Brett loves interviewing and coming up with questions at the drop of a hat. He is the curiosity that killed the cat. Yet even he loves to use AI to speed up his question-writing process. We typically ask for 5 to 10 questions, revise about half of them, and then use the fertile headspace we find ourselves in to pull up the other question ideas we need.
​
Here's an actual sample brainstorming prompt we used recently:

Specialty tasks β€” The possibilities are endless. Working with GPT-4 is like working with someone who's very bright but sometimes flighty. We encourage you to get ambitiously creative and see what happens.
​
Actual prompt we used recently:

Way #2 β€” Claude

Claude 2, actually. You can use it for free here.

Although not as powerful as GPT-4, Claude is excellent for "large token windows" β€” aka, pasting in large amounts of text in your prompt.

This can be a game changer if you have a lot of copy that you want summarized and/or analyzed. Claude can handle 100,000 tokens; about 75,000 words at a time.
​
Actual prompt we used recently:

Way #3 β€” Ideogram

Ideogram is currently (although not for long; GPT-4 will soon include DALL-E 3, which will have similar features) the best AI we've found that can produce quality images with text. This can be useful for social media.

Actual prompt we used recently:

And the results:

Here's hoping you're now grinning like a happy raccoon who's ready to feel like a superhero flying high with fundraising writing AI!


Randomly yours: to inspire and recharge you

For your brain, heart, and funny bone...

  • Fundraisingly Informative β€” 10 Top Strategies to Grab Your Nonprofit’s Mid-level Fundraising Opportunity by Claire Axelrad (a blog post with specific ideas to boost your revenue by cultivating mid-level donors and leveraging a mindset of being "in the happiness delivery business")​​
  • Globally Positioned β€” population.io (a fascinating website where you can enter a birthdate and learn what percentage of the world and of your country is older / younger; with context added in a visually compelling format) ​
    ​
  • So Meta β€” Mark Zuckerberg: First Interview in the Metaverse via the Lex Fridman Podcast (a 1-hour, 5-minute podcast episode in which you can get a glimpse of the near future of digital presence; well worth checking out even for Zuck haters)​
    ​
  • Artificially Formal β€” Make a form with AI​ via fillout.com (a free β€” with, ahem, premium options available, of course β€” custom form builder and editor enhanced with robust AI features)​
    ​
  • Majestically Aloft β€” Luke Combs - Doin' This (the official video for Combs' stirring love letter to his roots which most anyone can relate to, perhaps even those who shudder at the thought of listening to country music)

Until next time: May you ever embrace the good challenge of finding new ways to connect hearts β€” yours, your org's, and your donors β€” because more hearts together means more good done.

Grateful,

PS: Here's the latest in our weekly video series, Win It in a Minute. You can (and maybe want to?) subscribe here.

In this video, Tom Ahern and Jeff Brooks reply to a webinar attendee who asks, "I notice that the common length of an appeal letter is two pages. At my organization, a board member recently said she won't read any appeal over 1 page. Is there anything to this? Are two-page appeals somehow weightier?"

video preview​

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