Comparative Analysis of Machine Learning and Sequential Deep learning Models in Higher Education Fundraising




Umeki, Atsuko

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Deep learning models have been used widely in various areas and applications of our everyday lives. They could also change the way non-profit organizations work and help optimize fundraising results. In this thesis, sequential models are applied in fundraising to compare their performance against the traditional machine learning model. Sequential model is a type of neural network that is specialized for processing sequential data. Although some research utilizing machine learning algorithms in fundraising context exists, it is based on the data extracted from the specific time window, which does not take time-dependency of features into account; therefore, time-series features are independent at each data point relative to others. This approach results in loss of time notion. In this thesis, we experiment with the application of time-dependent sequential models including Long Short Term Memory (LSTM), Gated Recurrent Unit (GRU) and their variants in the fundraising domain to predict the alumni monetary contribution to the university. We also expand our study by including the architecture that treats time-invariant demographic data as a condition to the sequential layers. In this model, the time-dependent data is concatenated after running the sequential model. Sequential deep learning is empirically evaluated and compared against the traditional machine learning models. The results demonstrate the potential use of both traditional machine learning and sequential deep learning in the prediction of fundraising outcomes and offer non-profit organizations solutions to achieve their mission.



Machine learning, Deep learning, sequential model, lstm, gru, rnn, Higher education, fundraising, dynamic data, time series, conditional learning