How Medicos Sin Fronteras built a chatbot for P2P Fundraising

Jesper Juul Jensen
Min to read

A newly developed chatbot is helping supporters set up birthday fundraisers through conversations. Nick Scott from Medicos Sin Fronteras helps us understand how they did this and what the results are.  

Charities have embraced chatbots. Very basic chatbots help supporters make donations through Messenger and other messaging services. More advanced bots can help charities communicate their mission and the stories of the charity beneficiaries. Read about some other examples here.  

Recently Medicos Sin Fronteras built a chatbot that helps their supporters, both existing and new, to set up birthday fundraisers. We haven’t seen anything like this before, but we were instantly blown away by the potential for this idea. The idea came to Medicos Sin Fronteras as Spain went into lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nick Scott who is Head of Digital at Medicos Sin Fronteras expands:

“We realised that in a period of lockdown, many people wouldn’t be able to celebrate their birthdays as usual. We wanted to offer them a way to run birthday fundraisers that would help MSF in its operations around COVID-19, in Spain and the rest of the world.

But we wanted to make the process as quick, easy and entertaining for them as possible – which is why we used a chatbot”

This blog post will go through how Nick and his team achieved this and what their results are so far.  

You can test out the chatbot here, if you know spanish.  

fundraising chatbot screenshot

The process for setting up the chatbot

Casually making a chatbot four years ago would have been at the leading edge, and probably too risky for most charities. Today the technology has improved a lot, and especially accessibility to it. Medicos Sin Fronteras uses the tool that integrates with BetterNow through Zapier. Nick explains to us how they did this:

“The first step was to get to a proof of concept, as we had only just started using, and we’d never used the Zapier integration with BetterNow. That bit was actually pretty simple – it didn’t take any major technical knowledge to get to a point where the bot was creating new fundraisers in BetterNow, and it was done in a couple of hours.”  

Zapier is at the front of the no-code movement, enabling non-techies to develop integrations and set up what before was complex web development. A direct API integration does however have some benefits, and Nick therefore decided to have the final chatbot made through the BetterNow API:

“Moving from that proof of concept to the final product took longer, however, as we work with a chatbot agency who develops the conversational style. They reworked the proof of concept to not use Zapier and saved us the extra cost by connecting directly to the BetterNow API.”  

With the Zapier integration, it is possible to have fundraisers created through over 1500 other applications. This type of ingenuity was exactly what we hoped for when we prioritised developing the BetterNow Zapier integration. The core BetterNow API is however the most flexible way to build an integration and has many more possibilities. The biggest benefit of Zapier though is that it enables you to build without knowing how to code.

The results and why chatbots might be a future trend for P2P fundraising

The chatbot was really well received and worked very well. Nick Scott here gives us the results: “We’ve seen a lot of fundraisers created – just under 150 in around a month! It has worked really well in that regard. “  

The supporters were both new and existing, as it was promoted through Facebook ads. The chatbot is just a little more than a month old at the time of writing. As with any newly developed concept, they hope to find optimisations:

“We’re mainly marketing them through Facebook Ads and – as with all digital marketing – it takes a while to optimise and find the best way to reach the right audience. So at the moment we are probably just getting back a bit more than we are paying for ads, but we think that with more targeting we can improve and make it a really positive “always-on” campaign – and perhaps expand into other types of fundraisers too! “  

But one thing is clear, and that is that those clicking the ads are creating fundraisers and find the chatbot interface easy to navigate. Nick believes that chatbots are here to stay and have some very strong benefits for P2P fundraising, compared to the existing way supporters set them up through traditional webforms:  

“I think that we often forget how complicated landing pages and websites can be for users who are not sure whether or not they want to do something. I would strongly encourage people to investigate chatbots, as the format can feel so much more natural and really increase conversion rates because you’re never asking people to take in more than one piece of information at a time.

This is particularly true for things like fundraisers, where you’re actually asking people to understand a lot: what their role is, what they have to do, how they have to do it, and what the impact will be.”
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