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Donor Participation Project Resources

Personalized Donor Outreach: Using Tech to Build Meaningful Relationships

For nonprofits, building meaningful relationships with donors is key to fundraising success.

However, with small staffs and budgets, scaling personalized outreach can seem daunting.

The good news is, by leveraging marketing automation tools, nonprofits can reach more donors in a personal way without draining resources.

An automation example from annualfundtoolkit.com

Nick Prenger, CEO of fundraising firm Prenger Solutions Group, shared how his team used Microsoft Power Automate to help a Catholic diocese launch an automated email cultivation program.

Over the course of a year, 15,000 donors received periodic emails directly from the diocese’s development director with updates and stories of impact. Meanwhile, 35,000 donors did not receive the emails.

The results showed the power of this personalized outreach. Those receiving emails were 62% more likely to donate to the annual appeal. They also gave 264% more and had three times the recurring giving rate. Additionally, their participation only declined 6% compared to 20% for non-email recipients, indicating higher retention.

For nonprofits considering a similar program, Prenger recommends starting with a simple “stewardship email” to express thanks, share an impact story or provide a program update.

This low-risk contact can yield big returns while building trust for future appeals.

He also suggests an 8:1 ratio of non-ask touches to appeals to cultivate true relationships.

To implement, Prenger suggests exploring tools like Microsoft Power Automate that integrate with your CRM to automatically trigger personalized emails based on donor actions. For example, send new donor welcome emails or recurring gift renewal invitations when a multi-month pledge is nearing completion. With segments tailored to giving history, you can keep messages highly relevant.

While marketing automation may be new territory, starting small and learning as you go can help overcome legal and technical roadblocks. Focusing on the impact—stronger donor relationships and fundraising results—will make the challenges worthwhile. With the right tools and strategy, every nonprofit can achieve meaningful donor outreach at scale.

Get the full recording for this session in our Resource Library!

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