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Building Your Own AI Research Assistant: A No-Nonsense Guide for the Overworked Nonprofit Intern

Ever found yourself buried under a mountain of research tasks as a fundraiser? If you're nodding along, you're not alone. Estimates suggest that fundraisers spend about 10-30% of their time just digging through endless Google searches and articles. It's a crucial part of the job, but let’s be honest—it’s as thrilling as watching paint dry.


That’s where our guide swoops in, like a superhero for the spreadsheet-weary. We’re here to help you build an AI-powered research assistant. This isn't just another tool to add to your digital clutter. It’s your ticket to focusing on work that actually matters (and yes, escaping the soul-sucking abyss of monotonous tasks).


What You'll Need

Here’s what you’ll need to emancipate yourself from the drudgery:


Tool Selection:

  • Make: This isn't just a tool; it's your new best friend. Sign up to automate workflows and integrate platforms like email, Slack, and LinkedIn, which are essential for schmoozing with donors.

  • Perplexity AI: Ever wish you had a smarter cousin who could finish your homework? That's Perplexity for you. It specializes in AI-driven searches to dig up the dirt on donors and the latest philanthropic gossip.


Setup and Integration:

  • Getting Started: Create accounts on Make and Perplexity like you’re signing up for an exclusive club (because you kind of are).

  • Connecting the Dots: In Make, craft a scenario that marries Perplexity with your communication tools. Think of it as setting up a blind date between your data and your chat apps.


API Configuration:

  • Integration Magic: Get your hands on the integration goodies (API key and access code) and treat them like the secret sauce they are.

  • Key to the Kingdom: Plug in that API key and set up your data-fetching workflow in Make. It’s like setting a trap for the data you need—only way less creepy.

Customizing Research Prompts:

  • Speak Clearly: Adjust the research prompts in Perplexity to sound like you—smart, concise, and to the point. The clearer you are, the less garbage data you’ll get.

Automating Data Delivery:

  • Auto-Pilot: Configure Make to automatically dress up your data in HTML and send it over to your preferred communication channels. It’s like having a butler for your data.

Scheduling and Distribution:

  • Timely Updates: Decide if you want your updates daily, weekly, or whenever you remember that you set this thing up.


Expanding Functionality:

  • Beyond the Basics: When you’re ready, explore how to get Perplexity and Make to do more—like analyzing donor behavior or crafting witty social media posts.


Why Bother?

Let’s face it: as a nonprofit intern or staffer, you could be doing more meaningful work—like actually talking to donors or planning world domination. This guide isn’t just about building an AI tool; it’s about reclaiming your time and sanity.

By the end of this, you’ll have an AI research assistant that not only saves you from the drudgery of mundane tasks but also keeps you informed and prepared. Because in the world of fundraising, knowledge isn’t just power—it’s currency.

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