Skip to content
We are now Bonterra

Marketing automation for nonprofits: Why it matters

March 24, 2022
Two women look at laptop and tablet screens as they implement marketing automation for nonprofits.

Chances are, you are already familiar with classic marketing strategies for your nonprofit organization, such as fundraising letters, sponsorship requests, events, and more. Now you're looking for new ways to refine your process and perfect your outreach.

Marketing automation for nonprofits is one way to take your marketing strategies to the next level. When used correctly, this handy tool can drastically amplify your existing marketing processes. 

In this guide, we’ll share four reasons why marketing automation benefits nonprofits. Let's get started. 

1. Marketing automation helps nonprofits to plan ahead.

Before using marketing automation tools, ensure you already feel comfortable and confident in your ability to target specific audiences with your marketing materials.

When you have the ability to segment donors based on shared characteristics, you can draft marketing materials in advance. Then, schedule those materials to be automatically sent out to those segments at the optimal time.

With an effective marketing automation tool, before your marketing campaign even begins, your nonprofit can:

  • Create lists of donors based on donor type, demographic markers, network connections, and more.
  • Draft and save email and letter templates for each list.
  • Personalize each letter or email by automatically populating each donor's name in the heading.
  • Preview emails on a screen for desktop, tablet, and mobile to ensure a good user experience.
  • Print letters for easy envelope stuffing and mailing.
  • Schedule emails to be sent at specific times for the optimal open rate.

Leverage your CRM to manage these lists. To ensure your messages are always up to date, regularly collect new information from donors and store it in their profiles. 

2. Nonprofits can create email series with marketing automation tools.

Email series encourage supporters to complete specific goals. Automatically triggering these emails in response to particular actions smoothly moves supporters along their donor journey while saving your team time.

For example, a supporter might sign a petition or subscribe to an email newsletter. Then, this action triggers an email series, causing them to receive regular emails until they complete the goal that the nonprofit has in mind, such as donating.

The tricky part about this marketing technique is ensuring that you produce enough content to send donors as part of your email stewardship. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Focus on persuasion. New donors start off unfamiliar with your cause, and your email should provide them with the educational resources they need to learn more and get invested in your purpose.
  • Emphasize your call-to-action. The action you want your supporters to complete should be incredibly clear. Try including a button with colors that pop to grab attention. Use direct language to tell the supporter exactly what you want them to do, such as "Donate now!" or "Give today!"
  • Measure success rates. You can measure your mailing strategy’s success by looking at metrics such as your email open and click-through rates. 

As soon as someone completes the action you're looking for, take them off the email series and thank them right away. Set up an automatic recognition email to show your appreciation for the contribution they made to your organization.

3. Lead captures are streamlined with marketing automation for nonprofits.

Marketing automation has two parts: automating the outgoing content for supporters and automating the incoming information for your CRM. Automating the flow of information from your lead capture forms streamlines uploading information into your donor database.

For instance, you may create forms to collect information when a supporter:

  • Signs up for your nonprofit's email subscription list.
  • Signs an online petition for your cause.
  • Enters their email for a downloadable resource.
  • Participates in a targeted action for your nonprofit's advocacy campaign.

The image shows an example of a petition capture form using marketing automation that prompts supporters to enter their name, email, and address.

These lead captures do exactly what they say: they lead the supporter to develop a relationship with your organization. These forms create a profile in your CRM for that supporter that will be updated whenever you interact with them.

Eventually, these supporters may become recurring donors or maybe even major donors! Maintain their engagement with your organization with frequent communications, regular newsletters, event invitations, and donation asks.

4. Social media marketing automation for nonprofits boosts supporter actions.

With marketing automation software for nonprofits, you can use effective social media management tools to schedule when posts will go live.

For example, if your nonprofit is launching an advocacy campaign, you can schedule social media posts announcing new targeted action opportunities to launch at the same time as your action alert email.

There are several reasons to schedule your social media posts, including: 

  • Proper timing can expand the reach of your outgoing content. Email and social media are both used consistently by audiences of all ages. Getting the word out about opportunities at your nonprofit through both platforms will benefit your organization.
  • Social media platforms have optimal times to post to reach the widest audience. For instance, on Facebook, the best engagement time might be around 2 P.M. on Wednesdays. Scheduling posts ensures that you hit these effective times.

In your social media posts, include a call-to-action for your supporters. This direct language will lead a wide audience to the action you want completed, resulting in more conversions. 

Get started with marketing automation

Marketing automation for nonprofits can boost the efforts of an already effective marketing strategy. Your nonprofit can plan ahead by segmenting donor lists, drafting appeals ahead of time, and personalizing supporter communications. Automating these tasks helps you appeal to more supporters quickly and easily, leaving more time for other nonprofit efforts.

Ready to Get Started?

    Donor Engagement
  • Nonprofits
  • Digital communications & marketing