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Donor Participation Project

How to Automate Donor Stewardship on a Budget

Nonprofits often struggle with limited resources and budgets, making donor stewardship a challenge. However, automating parts of the stewardship process can help nonprofits do more with less. By eliminating repetitive, manual tasks, nonprofits can free up staff time to focus on building personal relationships with donors.

A first step is to audit your current stewardship process to identify areas that can be automated.

For example, sending an automated thank you email to donors after they make a gift is an easy way to start. You can use free tools like Mailchimp or Sendinblue to set up automated email workflows based on donation amount or other attributes. For donors without an email, use a service like Zapier to automatically generate a thank you letter that you can print and mail.

Surveys are another area where automation helps.

Use a free survey tool like Google Forms or SurveyMonkey to send an annual donor survey. The data can automatically feed into a spreadsheet, giving you insights into donors’ interests and preferences to improve stewardship.

For more personal outreach, use automation to ease the workload.

Draft template emails or call scripts for student callers or interns to connect with donors over the phone. Have them record responses in a shared spreadsheet or use a free CRM like HubSpot to log interactions. Review the data to identify follow-up needs and next steps.

Celebrating donor milestones shows you value their long-term partnership.

Use a mail merge tool like Mailchimp to automatically generate anniversary letters for donors at certain giving levels or after a period of consecutive years of giving. Include a small gift as a token of your appreciation.

While technology and automation are powerful, always keep the human touch. Use automation for repetitive tasks, but have real people make personal follow-ups, send handwritten notes, and make calls. A balance of automation and human interaction will make donors feel most valued and connected to your mission. With some experimentation, nonprofits can find affordable ways to automate stewardship and build better donor relationships.

View the full recording of this session in our Resource Library.

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