The Use of ChatGPT in Higher Education Advancement

Senior Analyst

Top of Mind: Use of ChatGPT in Higher Education Advancement
Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

You can’t listen to the news or pick up a news publication without hearing about the newest sensation, ChatGPT. As many of you already know, ChatGPT is a public chatbot launched by OpenAI that leverages a machine language learning model to converse with humans, answer complex questions, and even write content and application code.

In the last few months, there has been some buzz debating the pros and cons of using ChatGPT in advancement. While there are aspects of advancement that can benefit from it, I don’t believe that ChatGPT will be a panacea for advancement offices or replace key fundraisers such as gift officers and advancement leadership.

Advancement at its core is based on relationships, a sense of belonging, and a shared vision of supporting the greater good of an institution. Giving to an organization is very often rooted in human emotions that are triggered for a myriad of reasons (being part of something bigger than oneself, philanthropy goals, a love of higher education, and paying it forward for past good deeds received).  Donors are not driven by data, but by feelings and emotions, which can be deep rooted based on each donor’s unique life experiences. So while ChatGPT is being touted as one of the most advanced chatbots of modern times, I suspect that it will not largely impact advancement offices in the near future.

In its current state, ChatGPT can write convincingly (with no flair) about nearly any topic—though it can also write incorrectly about topics for which its sources are incomplete or incorrect. It can, however, provide a base for a writer to refine its work if given enough information, which can save time.

Another factor that limits ChatGPT’s use in advancement is the sensitivity of donor data, anonymity, and the unique business processes in place at many institutions, especially in the area of planned giving. The strategies that work at one institution may not work at another institution, and likewise down to the donor level. What motivates one donor to give may not work with other donors.

However, there are several use case scenarios in which ChatGPT could be of benefit in advancement, starting with prospect management. Many advancement vendor solutions have been leveraging AI and predictive analytics to facilitate prospect management by identifying and validating donors who are most likely to give based on a given set of factors, and understanding their digital footprint and giving histories and more.

ChatGPT can be used to create event invitations and donor recognition or stewardship drafts, which a human can then personalize. It provides a starting point with automated messages that can be tweaked for segmentation or personalized for individual donors. ChatGPT can also be beneficial in peer-to-peer fundraising by providing copy for email correspondence for volunteers reaching out on behalf of an institution. 

ChatGPT is still in its infancy but learning exponentially every day. I am sure that its use cases will continue to unfold in ways not imaginable right now. However, it is not a quick fix for all business areas, especially those such as sustainable philanthropy that are highly influenced by donors’ inner emotions, trust, and authenticity. While the technologies that service advancement have modernized, there are still many aspects of it that are reliant on human relationships and connections.

For more on harnessing the power of new technologies like ChatGPT, check out these Tambellini resources:

Share Article:

Senior Analyst
As a senior analyst for Tambellini Group, Mary Beth Cahill focuses her research on CRM and advancement initiatives. She has led numerous research efforts, specifically in vendor administrative systems and student information systems (SIS) software solutions, data and learning analytics, CRM, learning management, and social networking. Mary Beth is also the co-author of several published industry reports, including Tambellini Group's "Upgrade or Replace" and "Vendor Review" series of reports.

Other Posts From this Author:

Work Better, Smarter, and Faster with the Tambellini Group

Higher Education Institutions


Solution Providers & Investors

market insights

Become a Member of The Tambellini Group.

Get exclusive access to higher education analysts, rich research, premium publications, and advisory services.

Be a Top of Mind Podcast featured guest

Request a Briefing with a Tambellini Analyst

Suggest your research topics

Subscribe to Tambellini's Top of Mind.

Weekly email featuring higher education blog articles, infographics or podcasts.