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AI-driven donor scoring software bags spot in top 10 fundraising ideas

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Sydney-based AI startup Dataro’s AI-driven donor scoring software was selected as one of the top 10 fundraising innovations for not-for-profits in a competitive global open innovation challenge.

Dataro’s AI software was among the 10 selected projects from 152 innovative ideas and 87 proven concepts submitted to the competition.

The recognition came from Reimagining Fundraising, a group of 14 in

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ternational nonprofit organisations that banded together to crowdsource ideas to reimagine the future of charitable fundraising.

Proven concepts like Dataro’s donor scoring software were evaluated by leading fundraising experts and the most outstanding ideas were selected for the final pitching event, held online last week.

As one of the winners, Dataro now has the chance to co-develop their cutting-edge solution with the NGOs behind the challenge, building momentum for the company’s international plans.

They will also be featured in an Innovation Playbook for nonprofits to be distributed in 2021.

Dataro co-founder and CEO Tim Paris said the startup’s mission was to democratise access to AI-driven predictive modelling for large and small nonprofits who have traditionally been priced out of the technology.

“For the past two years we have been working hard to build our machine learning technology and help charities fundraise more effectively and being named a finalist is a great recognition that our technology is having a real impact,” Paris said.

“A simple fact in fundraising is that charities who have better relationships with their donors raise more money. Unfortunately, most charities spend a huge amount of time talking to the wrong people or about the wrong things. Dataro’s AI software solves that,” he said.

In recent years, charities have collected huge amounts of data about an increasing number of donors. Unable to understand and use all this data, however, fundraising campaigns often adopt a scattergun approach, contacting as many donors as possible in the hope of getting a return.

For fundraisers, this means they end up running resource-intensive campaigns that deliver a poor return. For donors, far too often they are either spammed or ignored as the organisation is unable to cater to their specific circumstances.

Dataro identified that major improvements in the efficiency of large-scale fundraising operations were possible with machine learning techniques. Their software integrates directly with charity CRMs to provide weekly predictions about donor behaviour.

“Machine learning is the technology that underpins Siri, Face Swap, Driverless cars and thousands of other recent innovations. It’s also astonishingly effective at determining the best donors to include in a fundraising campaign,” said Dataro co-founder and CTO Dave Lyndon.

“Using this technology, fundraisers can reduce the costs of the campaign — by sending less mail or making fewer calls — and increase their returns by contacting donors who they would otherwise have missed,” he said.

COO Chris Paver said launching a new business overseas during COVID-19 was a challenge.

“Of course it has been impossible for us to get to our new markets in person due to the pandemic, so initiatives like Reimagining Fundraising are a brilliant way for companies like ours to start making connections and sharing our approach with the world,” he said.

The 14 INGOs behind the Reimagining Fundraising competition are Action Against Hunger, Amnesty International, Care International, Greenpeace, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), Plan International, Save the Children International, SOS Children’s Villages, UNHCR the UN Refugee Agency, UNICEF, World Food Programme, World Vision International, and World Wildlife Fund (WWF). It is also supported by innovation ecosystem management software and services provider HYPE.

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