Chatbots and Charity

Chatbots and Charity: Giving Back With the Help of Technology

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Chatbots are becoming an essential part of business in industries such as retail, banking, and hospitality. Many have seen the tremendous customer service benefits of these intelligent assistants. But, what about actual service? Can chatbots help in raising awareness and collecting donations for charitable causes? The answer is, yes, they can.

It’s no surprise there are a lot of issues that go unnoticed because of lack of information. Some issues are obvious, such as water crises in many parts of the world, but people have no idea how to help. People will not support something of which they are unaware. Charities, unlike for-profit organizations, are usually short-staffed. They cannot afford to engage a large number of volunteers in interacting with donors. It will cost them time and money that could otherwise be put to help those in need.

Singapore is home to many voluntary welfare organizations and charities. Cancer awareness, housing for the homeless or elderly, animal welfare, women’s rights, healthcare, mental illnesses, education, and environment are some of the many causes that are fighting for visibility and support. Despite significant progress in technology over the past few years, these organizations continue to use traditional methods of fundraising. Chatbots can bring these issues to the mainstream and ensure people understand the urgency of addressing them quickly.

By using chatbots, charities can raise awareness about their cause without having to compromise on cost, quality, or time. A potential donor can “chat” with these bots, ask questions about the cause, see visuals (pictures or videos) of the crisis, and even donate to the charity, all through chatbots. For a chatbot to succeed in the charity space, it should be able to answer questions about the cause effectively. Misconceptions about issues such as mental health should also be addressed via the chatbot. It is essential that people know what they are donating to before actually making a donation. This will build a channel of trust between them and the charity and they will be willing to give more openly next time.

Take the example of the “Walk with Yeshi” chatbot of the Charity: Water campaign. The aim of the campaign is to raise awareness of the water crisis in Ethiopia. It tells the story of Yeshi, a woman who walks two and a half hours every day in search of clean water for her family. When you engage with the chatbot, you can see images, videos, maps, and donation plans of the cause. The application is simple to use as well. So, donors are able to navigate easily, while being provided with the information they seek.

When you visualize the problems faced by those in need, you are more likely to donate or offer to help. Chatbots can be creatively used to tell stories of people and what you can do to help them. By establishing an emotional connection through personal stories, you become more aware of the world’s issues. This enables you to care for the cause and go a step further in helping out rather than merely writing a check.

There is still a lot of work to be done when it comes to charity bots. Optimization of payment gateways, answering questions, handling large data, etc. are issues that have to be handled effectively. That’s why you don’t see many charities using them. All this is changing slowly. Chatbot development in Singapore has grown leaps and bounds. So, it isn’t going to be long before you see chatbots in every application. By initiating a one-on-one conversation with donors and supporters, chatbots can change the way charities work and bring more awareness about causes that really matter.

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Also published on Medium.

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