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Nonprofit CRM Features: Spotlight on Automation

Triggers, Queries, and Workflows Elevate Outreach

Ready to learn about how automation can benefit your nonprofit? We'll also share common use cases!

Nonprofit CRM Features: Spotlight on Automation

Many nonprofits face the challenges of managing many donors and volunteers, running multiple campaigns, and harnessing near-constant outreach to raise money for their mission. It’s sometimes hard to keep your head above water.

If all this talk of AI-everything hasn’t convinced you that technology is making life easier in leaps and bounds, we’re here to show you how automation features in your CRM can eliminate repetitive manual tasks and streamline workflows. The result? You’ll save time, improve efficiency, and engage supporters with highly personalized communications.

Benefits of Nonprofit Automation

You can probably clearly articulate the benefits of a nonprofit CRM. With your donor data in one place, you can analyze and segment your audience, leading to more effective messaging and higher engagement. You can spot trends and know, mid-campaign, if adjustments are necessary.

Automation is, similarly, a game-changer for nonprofits. What are the topline benefits you’ll see?

  • Save time. When you can automate emails, billing, messages, and credit card updating, you can spend more time engaging with donors and planning fundraising campaigns.
  • Personalize the donor experience. You know it’s helpful to segment your donors and craft messages that resonate with each segment. Plug those messages into an automated email series, and your supporters will receive targeted, personalized communications over an ideal period.
  • Increase donor engagement and retention. Whether you’re welcoming new donors with a series of emails to share information about your nonprofit or trying to re-engage lapsed donors, automation can replace hours spent drafting emails and answering questions over the phone.
  • Spot trends quickly. When your CRM automatically gathers and sorts data, you will quickly identify potential major gift donors or pull a report of donors who need a personal note or call to renew their commitment to your organization. Trends are easily spotted, and data is increasingly actionable and valuable.

When evaluating a nonprofit CRM, asking about automation gives you a clear understanding of how robust the platform is.

Common Uses for Automation

With robust automation, the possibilities for donor engagement are unlimited. In our platform, you can use out-of-the-box communication series or create your own workflows, each prompted by different triggers and customized queries. The result? A significant amount of time is saved as your outreach increases.

Most of our clients rely on these automation and workflows daily. Here are some common applications for this functionality:

Create Donor Follow-Up Activity

Perhaps a donor has made a significant contribution, donated every month for three months, or made a major gift. Each of these is a query you could set to trigger a list for phone calls, an email, or even direct mail. Any significant activities to your nonprofit can be set as queries, ensuring no donor is ever ignored.

Create a Welcome Series for New Donors

Imagine you are running a highly successful year-end campaign, and new donors are flooding your donation form. You don’t need to worry about communicating with these donors as you hit your fundraising goals. They’re ripe for an email series that thanks them, shares stories and facts about your mission, offers volunteer opportunities and asks them to become more regular donors.

Upsell Series

Think of the benefit to your nonprofit if your one-time donors became sustainers. With workflows and automation, it’s easy to identify everyone who has donated once in the past six months and create an upsell campaign.

Re-engagement Series

What if there’s been a natural disaster grabbing headlines, and you have donors who have diverted their dollars elsewhere? Getting that donor back is easier than finding a new one, so run an email series reminding them of the good their past donations have done. With carefully crafted messages, they’ll remember why they began supporting you in the first place.

CharityEngine’s Automation and Workflows

CharityEngine offers extensive automation within the platform. This article section will highlight our communications series and the triggers for setting up workflows. This information will help you explore the available features if you're a client. If you’re not a client, we can fix that!

Nonprofit CRM Feature: Communication Series

CharityEngine’s fundraising platform offers several out-of-the-box email workflows, which we call our communication series.

  • Payment Received
  • Email Signup
  • Failed Payment
  • Advocacy Action
  • Advanced (Create a Custom Workflow)

The benefit of these automated email workflows is that each is programmed with the relevant prompts and audiences. For example, if you are creating a new advocacy action email workflow, you will be prompted to select the audience, enter the issue and category, and select the series start and end.

Advocacy 1

For each of these workflows, you will add the first email and select additional emails in the series or, for a multichannel campaign, a direct mail or SMS step. You can alternate channels throughout the series and set the frequency.

In the Advanced series, you can name the workflow, determine how frequently it should run, list the dates and description, and set an audience before you are again prompted to customize the series with channels, conditions, transfers, and triggers.

Nonprofit CRM Feature: Triggers

Triggers within the platform allow you to customize what prompts a workflow to run. For example, you can set up advanced workflows that respond to actions related to:

  • Donations, such as transactions, memberships, pledges, sustainers
  • Events, such as attendees, auctions, and participants in peer-to-peer campaigns
  • Campaigns, such as initiatives, click-throughs, conversions
  • Advocacy, such as issues, action alerts, custom targets
  • Board activities, such as running reports and emailing them to the members
  • Surveys, such as post-event or general feedback
  • Or anything else that relates to your mission

You begin by selecting what activity you want the automation to include. Common tasks include:

  • Create an activity
  • Create an opportunity
  • Deactivate or extend a membership
  • Assign a contact region
  • Assign a contact list

You will then create a query or a condition, such as a donor giving more than $1,000. If you previously created the query, select it under “Data Source.” You will be prompted to enter the start and end date, then move to a screen where you create the communication. In our example, you could be creating a personalized thank-you email.

It’s important to note that you aren’t limited in the number of queries you can create. They can be based on contacts, donations, events, volunteering—any data source you choose. The automation will be triggered if a contact is on a query list.

Therefore, the possibility for automated workflows is endless, and each can be highly customized and personalized.

It’s also nice to note that you’ll assign the workflow, and the system will automatically contact the internal team member responsible for it.

Automations Are Key to Fundraising Success

Embracing automation means maximizing efficiency, improving donor engagement, smoothing organizational hiccups, and raising more money for your mission. Ask how robust the automation in your CRM is, and if you’re intrigued by what you can do with CharityEngine, book a demo.

We’re always looking for ways to help nonprofits achieve their missions. Automating tasks and focusing on donors is guaranteed to help your organization succeed.