Our non-profit client has been on a transformative journey with automation tools over the past two years, aiming to streamline internal processes and reduce the workload for their staff. Since January, they have applied these automation concepts to enhance their donor interactions. This might raise eyebrows among other non-profits—after all, isn't automating donor relationships contrary to the personalized approach required in non-profit stewardship?

Indeed, non-profit best practices emphasize being a donor-centered organization, which involves building enduring relationships where donors feel valued and connected. While it's common for non-profits to focus on their Major Gift donors—who often contribute over 80% of annual revenues through personalized interactions like emails, phone calls, and letters—our client wondered about the other donors. These supporters typically receive only direct mail campaigns and maybe a weekly email newsletter. Recognizing this disparity, our client sought to explore whether it was feasible to maintain a meaningful connection with a much larger donor base using automation tools.

They embarked on using modern software to automate communications with these less-engaged donors, shifting from traditional methods to a more streamlined approach. This new strategy uses Customer Experience Automation, a concept borrowed from the for-profit sector, to send personalized emails directly to donors' inboxes each month. These are not your typical marketing emails; they bypass the usual email filters that might relegate them to less-visible tabs in recipients' email applications.

Each email is tailored to the interests of the recipient based on their previous support—similar to how a direct mail campaign might personalize content for different segments. This automation is set up through an email marketing tool, which sends out updates relevant to the specific programs donors have supported, like Cancer or Mental Health programs.

The process now looks like this:

  • At the beginning of each month, an email and snippet tailored to specific Care Areas are prepared.
  • Emails are then automatically sent out throughout the month based on these updates.
  • This automation significantly reduces the time staff spend on email communications—from several days to under one hour per month, allowing them to send over 2,000 personalized emails.

Our Results

This approach is just one of the many touchpoints our client has automated in an effort to maintain high levels of donor engagement without overwhelming their staff. While the true impact on donor retention will take time to fully ascertain, early indicators are promising:

  • High open rates for the emails
  • Few requests from donors to stop receiving these communications
  • Increased interactions from donors, such as inquiries about donation opportunities, which suggest a higher likelihood of repeat donations within the same year

This case study exemplifies how non-profits can utilize automation tools for marketing to enhance donor relations while managing large volumes of contacts efficiently. It demonstrates that with the right tools and strategies, even large-scale communications can feel personal and keep donors engaged and informed.

Ready to streamline your nonprofit operations and boost fundraising efforts?

Unlock the Power of Technology for Your Nonprofit!

Discover expert insights and innovative solutions to optimize your nonprofit's operations and boost fundraising efforts. Let us help you make a bigger impact with less effort!