• Nonprofit Learning Lab

AUTOMATING COMMUNICATION FOR NONPROFITS – A SHORT GUIDE

This is a guest blog and is posted with permission from Tosha Anderson from The Charity CFO.

From wildlife funds to children’s charities and the ASPCA to international NGOs, no matter what they support, most charitably-oriented organizations have at least one thing in common: a resource deficit. There are only so many staff members nonprofits are able to hire; only so much space they can rent, and never enough time in any given day.


Well, never fear. Automation is here and it’s got all the timesaving, cost-cutting, tech you need to bulk up your nonprofit’s resources and boost productivity when you need it most – particularly when it comes to marketing and communications efforts. And in case you don’t quite know where to begin, here are a few thought-starters from the Charity CFO’s research library.


A different approach to marketing


Marketing is an invaluable resource for nonprofits, whose sole mission is to reach out to likeminded people who are willing to lend support. And automation in the information age has made connecting with people at the touch of a button a real possibility.

The first question that may spring to mind is, “But how can a machine replace real human interaction?” The answer is, it doesn’t have to. All it does is make meaningful interaction more accessible.


For starters, marketing automation means that you can connect with your database in the following ways:


• Automatic email messages – Crafted by humans, managed and sent by machines, whenever you need them to be.

• Automatic responses to queries – Depending on the tech you choose, these can range from simple, “We’ve received your message and will get back to you” responses, or AI-driven responses that can answer more complex questions.

• Automated birthday messages – These are a great value-add for donors and other supporters; a personal touch that (ironically) can be done automatically. 

• Targeted or Programmatic Advertising – These are tools that will effectively bring potential donors to you, based on their searching and browsing habits.


Tools to take a look at


The digital age is a Shangri-La for communicators. Anyone old enough to think back to the 80s or 90s will remember terms like “The check is in the mail” and “Just fax it through”. Nowadays, paper has disappeared for the most part. Letters are rarely sent through the mail anymore and checks have given way to electronic funds transfers, online credit card payments, and PayPal.


Mailchimp, Emma, and ActiveCampaign are just three examples of email marketing platforms that have taken the communications world by storm over the last few years. In 2019 alone, over 340 billion mails were sent from Mailchimp’s platform, making it the most popular contender on the list. But that’s not necessarily to say that it’s the best. Mailchimp does have great features and is quite user friendly, but it all comes down to personal preference.


The common denominator is that these platforms have made creating email templates and mail design something anyone can do. And you can schedule emails well in advance plus automate several communication processes.


Salesforce.org is a large CRM (Customer Relationship Management) platform that has designed automated tools specifically geared at NPOs. Their Power of Us Hub is a resource center that helps nonprofit organizations communicate – both internally and externally – and connect through training and employee engagement initiatives.

Salesforce’s Nonprofit Success Pack provides subscriber access to operations systems, donor management programs, and cloud-based communication platforms like Marketing Cloud and Pardot.


Salesforce isn’t your only CRM automation option, though. Bitrix24 offers up to 12 users in your organization FREE access to email and telemarketing tools, reports, and quite a bit more. Neon CRM has combined CRM and fundraising platforms, and Salsa CRM offers their own branded CRM, fundraising, and relationship management tools.


Content is king


That’s just the beginning of the automated solutions that are available for nonprofits who want to ramp their communications efforts up to the next level. But one thing that’s always important to bear in mind is that, because all of these amazing tools are now available to communicators, it’s easier for messages to get lost in the clutter.

That’s where the human element comes in. Marketing tools in the right hands are like paintbrushes in the hands of a master. It needs to be said that automation is not actually robotic. Before anything can be automated, a communications framework must be laid so that everything your organization needs to say is driven home effectively.

So, before you go fully automatic, consider the importance of copywriting (not to be confused with copyrighting), to make sure that your messaging is on point; design and corporate identity, for an aesthetic that will appeal to all stakeholders and stay consistent; and marketing strategy, so that you have an ultimate goal in mind for what you’d like your communication to achieve. More detail on all of that in a future post!


Trust the experts


The Charity CFO is a leader in managing business and accounting processes for nonprofits. We’re consistently updating our knowledge of nonprofit industry trends so that we are able to provide nonprofit agencies with the resources they need, when they need them.


Subscribe today for more informative business-related articles. And follow us on Facebook @thecharitycfo, and LinkedIn @tosha-anderson for regular updates.

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