The bot, part of the charity’s new focus on supporter needs, will guide supporters who have signed up to do a fundraising event for The Children’s Society and those interested in doing so. It can answer questions, provide or email information and update contact preferences, among other features.
The bot is available on The Children’s Society events pages on Facebook as well as from relevant sections of their website. You can view it on Messenger too.
It was built with help from digital agency Puzzle.
What does the bot do?
While event management can be intricate and complicated, much of it can be fairly mundane and involve answering the same questions to many individuals. The bot is designed to handle some of this interaction, provide personally relevant information and advice, and free up Children’s Society staff for other activities.
It can also offer advice 24 hours a day, whenever the supporter needs it, unlike the charity’s staff.
Questions that the bot has been programmed to handle include:
- what they need to do
- how to train
- how to fundraise
- how to pay in their money.
The Children’s Society argue that the bot differs from other bots being used by some charities in that its AI-powered functions ensure it can answer a wide range of questions, not simply following a predefined flow and responding to set buttons.
Bots are also likely to prove a useful tool in the shift towards voice-activated search and interaction.
Lauren White, Director of Not-for-Profit, Puzzle, explains why a bot can help support fundraising events management.
She said: “The bot facilitates contact deflection from other channels, freeing team members up from admin work so they can focus on core tasks and enables supporters to have questions answered at a time that suits them. Events can raise a huge amount of income for charities but are also massively resource intensive – this bot aims to help cut the strain on individuals to deliver them. We really want to help charities do what they do, better – to lift them so that everyone who engages with them has a truly great experience.”
Where can you find the bot?
The bot works through Facebook messenger, like any other chat in the platform.
When you are logged into Facebook and see a relevant call-to-action (either on your event page or on The Children’s Society’s website), you will be able to ask the bot whatever question you need to know, at any time you need to know it. If it can not answer, it will direct you to the Supporter Care team for more help. It can also take messages and pass them on to the relevant team, dependent on the query.
Significance of the bot in events fundraising
Henry Rowling, Director of Supporter Experience at The Children’s Society, said: “As a sector, we might not always embrace these [new digital] opportunities but The Children’s Society is changing that and has taken a bold new approach to truly put supporters first and to create new ways to engage with us. We are really excited to be working with Puzzle on this sector-leading project and we hope it will enable us to transform the lives of even more vulnerable young people in need of our help.”
Francis Burns, Co-founder, Puzzle, added: “We want to push the boundaries of AI and integrated intelligent services to deliver tangible results for the third sector. Our purpose as a business is to solve challenges for our partners and we’re delighted to launch this project with The Children’s Society and excited to see where it takes us.”
Bots for the rest of us?
Consequently Puzzle is making tool available as a self-serve, licensed product to others in the sector. Lessons learned from its use be shared with the sector as a whole.
Puzzle has also developed an off-the-shelf solution for physical and virtual fundraising events, enabling organisations of all sizes to benefit from low cost iOS and Android applications, in tandem with an AI-powered event management bot.
- Look out for UK Fundraising’s Facebook bot – coming soon. Follow us on Facebook to be amongst the first to try it out.
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