Malala Hero - Sofija & EP-01

Meet the AI Bot Helping Malala Change the World

MARCH 8, 2018 –

The world of nonprofits always seems to be caught in a catch-22. In order to keep their work going, funds need to be applied towards administration. But, in doing so, funds are directed away from the cause itself, preventing nonprofits from accomplishing what they set out to do in the first place.

But, thanks to innovative thinking, this problem is being solved.

Today, intelligent nonprofits are leveraging bots to reduce costs while simultaneously increasing their reach. These same bots are also showing to effectively enhance interactions with donors, volunteers, and the community, creating more opportunities for consistent and mindful contact.

Matt Fender, the digital strategist behind the Malala campaign, is one of these innovators. Wanting to meet Malala’s supporters on their preferred communication channels rather than scaling email and phone campaigns (which can be costly), Fender created bots as an AI solution, leveraging APIs for necessary payment gateways.

These bots leapfrogged much of the formerly associated expenses and negative interactions, allowing donors to easily set up recurring donations without needing to go out of their way or feel as if they are being spammed.

This is exactly what good UX is all about.

By making powerful technology disappear in front of users, bots, like Fender’s, are able to provide services without tainting the interaction. And, when you have someone has powerful as Malala on the other side of technology, connecting users directly to her, rather than making them feel like they are going through a middleman, is the name of the game.

Malala Yousafzia, named the youngest Nobel Prize laureate for her efforts in advancing female education around the globe, is an unstoppable voice in feminist activism. Nearly killed by a Taliban gunman at the age of fifteen because of her fearlessness to speak out against opposition, Malala has become a global symbol for the importance of female education.

The Malala Fund, the nonprofit Fender is a part of, is a leading organization bringing advocacy, investment and awareness to initiatives that help to balance the scales in the world of international education. Like most nonprofits, the Malala Fund was limited in resources, both technologically and financially.

But, unlike many nonprofits, it didn’t accept its fate, instead innovating its bots to help advance its cause fueled by the power of technology.

Although ill-equipped in terms of developers and programmers (and funds), Malala’s team managed to create sophisticated technology solutions, becoming early adopters of advanced tools that are now allowing them to better achieve their goals.

Today, Malala’s chatbots are finding ways to digest website information, like that on its FAQ page, to help answer questions and manage general inquiries, therefore increasing the likelihood of receiving donations. These AI-powered bots can also engage with volunteers, managing intake, scheduling, and training, while also connecting people with live agents as needed.

Even without the expertise most people believe is required to create this type of innovative tech solution, the Malala Fund is continuing to blaze the trail for nonprofits, improving the way individuals connect to causes they believe in.

Nonprofits want to put the majority of their raised funds toward their cause, not towards the administration of working on their cause.

Bots reduce cost while increasing the scale and quality of the interactions with donors, volunteers and community. For example, a bot that can schedule/reschedule volunteers and provide reminders to get people prepared and in the right places at the right times. A bot won’t forget to check in with donor on their giving anniversary, and can even facilitate a new gift or even set up recurring donations.

In Malala’s case they started out doing with a major win against something every non profit struggles with – little to no technology resources. They used bots as a means to leapfrog. Without the need for technical resources or heavy budgets they created leading edge technology – it was easy and fast enough that they almost missed recognizing that they had pioneered something very innovative. They didn’t need developers or programmers – they were early adopters in using tools that allow organizations to create sophisticated technology solutions without having technology resources.

Good UX is about making powerful technology disappear – wherein technology resources aren’t a factor.

“When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.” – Malala