You and I both know that donor engagement is a key element to a solid fundraising strategy. Want to better engage your supporters? Use automation! By utilizing automated nurture campaigns as part of your marketing strategy, you can keep your supporters engaged all year round. You’ll ensure that your supporters are not receiving too many or too few emails from your organization. Keeping your supporters ‘warm’ to your cause will prevent a donation ask from seeming like it’s coming out of the blue, while ensuring that you don’t email them too often will reduce the likelihood of those supporters hitting the dreaded ‘unsubscribe’ button.

Marketing automation is certainly gaining traction in the nonprofit space, but if your organization is not taking advantage of it yet, or you feel your automated series needs some revamping, I’d like to offer you four core tenants to consider:


Like any strategically formed campaign, your marketing automation efforts need goals. Not just any goals though. Your organization needs to develop specific, time oriented goals that are realistic. Your goal will affect how you go about each of the following tenants, so craft them wisely.


Gone are the days of blanket emails going out to your entire mailing list any time you want to engage any part of your constituency. Segmentation marketing is an effective way to be able to reach the most appropriate audience with each communication piece. Personas will help you identify how to communicate with each segment of your audience. There are lots of different ways to identify personas, but we suggest keeping it simple if you’re just starting out and definitely keeping your goals in mind.


Your goals and your personas will lead your content creation. Tweaking your message depending on who you are talking to is an effective way to increase donations and retain supporters of all types. You should have unique content for each of your personas; making each piece of content as unique as a snowflake will make your personas feel like you’re speaking directly to them. Don’t forget, there should be some consistency, such as look and feel and connection to your mission.


Maybe numbers don’t make your jump out of your chair with excitement, but I cannot emphasize the importance of measuring and analyzing enough. As with any campaign, examining what worked and what didn’t is how you will improve and increase its effectiveness in the future. Just because it’s automated, doesn’t mean you can set it and forget about it. If your analysis does not show the results you expected, it’s time to tweak your goals, personas or content… or all of the above!

There are many software companies out there that lead the way in marketing automation, but your nonprofit can apply these fundamental ideas to your marketing and fundraising efforts even without one of the fancy tools. Keep each of these four tenants in mind and review how they are working independently and together within your overall strategy. You can then let your automated marketing nurture supporters with relatively low involvement.

To learn more about marketing automation check out the new npExpert’s Future of Fundraising ebook!



Donna is the fearless leader and CEO of Charity Dynamics. She provides vision and leadership that comes from a solid foundation of over a decade’s experience helping nonprofits leverage technology. She holds a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Texas and a Bachelor of Science in Engineering from the University of Illinois. As Convio’s first VP of Client Services, Donna took their client base from one to over 300, shaping an industry leader in the process. Donna saw an opportunity to provide additional services to nonprofit organizations and in 2004, she founded Charity Dynamics. She started the company to provide a smart, responsive option to nonprofit clients ready to adopt innovative strategies for their online programs. She is rarely at rest: tirelessly exploring new opportunities and cutting edge ideas that keep Charity Dynamics out front of industry trends. From responsive tablet designs to mobile advocacy tools, Donna can scope it, scale it and serve it to create client deliverables that translate into real results. Donna does it all and still makes time to cook breakfast for the Charity Dynamics team once a month!

Get nonprofit articles, best practice advice, fundraising ideas and invaluable industry reports and webinars delivered for free!