Personalize the Donor Experience With Marketing Automation
If you’re looking for ways to improve your fundraising results, one highly effective approach is to use marketing automation to personalize the donor experience.
On the surface, that might sound like a contradiction. After all, doesn’t “automation” sound cold and impersonal? Won’t automating fundraising efforts, such as sending email communications to donors, volunteers and other constituents, result in generic or poor-quality communications that fail to hit the mark?
With the right marketing automation tools and the right approaches, that doesn’t have to be the case. Let’s break that down.
What Are Marketing Automation Tools for Nonprofits?
Today, there are marketing and process automation tools available that allow you to send highly personalized and targeted communications at a large scale. They’re often included as tools or functionality in software, such as your donor management or customer relationship management (CRM) system. For example, software platforms like Feathr, HubSpot, Salesforce, and Virtuous, include automation capabilities in their larger suite of tools to automate manual and repetitive tasks, giving you more time to focus on campaigns and messages. Check your CRM system to see what process and marketing automation functionality it might include.
Now, when I mention personalization and automation, I’m talking about more than just automatically plugging a person’s first name or last donation amount into an email communication (although that’s important, too). Today’s more sophisticated marketing automation tools can pull data from within the system (and sometimes from other systems, depending on integration capabilities) to allow your organization to:
- Send unique messages to various audiences based on each recipient’s interests and interactions with your organization.
- Provide personalized experiences or journeys for donors/constituents based on their interactions with your organization. As marketing automation technology evolves, some products are beginning to allow you to do this across multiple marketing channels, not just email.
- Help you automate other manual fundraising and marketing processes, such as data entry, donation reconciliation and reporting.
The Benefits of Marketing Automation for Nonprofit Fundraising
Creating personalized experiences for your donors can help to deepen your donor relationships, which, in turn, helps to increase donations. But to deliver the biggest impact for your fundraising program, you must personalize the donor experience at a large scale.
Marketing automation tools allow you to create more sophisticated and personalized donor communications and journeys to reduce administrative duties in your day-to-day fundraising efforts. This can help to make your fundraising campaigns more effective while saving time that you and your development team can then spend on higher-value work, such as creating personalized fundraising campaigns, communicating one-to-one with donors and planning fundraising events.
A Real-World Example of Improving Fundraising Results With Marketing Automation
Consider this example of a nonprofit that’s using marketing automation to improve fundraising results. I sat down with Abigayle Tobia, vice president of philanthropy at Verland, on a recent episode of the NonProfit Voice to talk about how marketing automation can simplify fundraising tasks, such as:
- Sending donor acknowledgements
- Emailing a donor welcome series
- Reconciling donations
- Pulling reports
- Making documentation about donor communications accessible to team members
Verland is a nonprofit family of community homes and services supporting individuals with intellectual disabilities. The organization switched from using more than 30 spreadsheets for managing marketing and fundraising tasks to using a CRM system. While consolidating its data into one system provided greater efficiencies, Verland was also able to use marketing automation capabilities in its CRM system to automate manual processes, including sending a personalized email series and other communications to new donors.
The preceding blog was provided by an individual unaffiliated with NonProfit PRO. The views expressed within do not directly reflect the thoughts or opinions of NonProfit PRO.
Related story: 7 Reasons Why Nonprofits Need to Invest in Technology Now
Mark founded Cathexis Partners in 2008 to help nonprofit organizations get the most from their existing technology tools, implement new technology to address gaps and find the best overall approach to using technology to support their missions. He previously served as director of IT consulting at a fundraising event production company focused on nonprofits.
Mark also serves on the editorial advisory board for NonProfit PRO, where he contributes monthly to his blog, “Nonprofit Tech Matters.”