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Donor Participation Project

Scrappy Innovations for Nonprofits: Doing More With Less

Nonprofits often struggle with limited resources and funding, making it difficult to invest in new technologies or major process overhauls. However, with a scrappy mindset focused on incremental improvements, nonprofits can achieve significant gains without a huge budget. By tapping into existing tools, streamlining workflows, and eliminating repetitive manual tasks, organizations can free up staff time and better steward donors—all while keeping costs low.

As discussed in a recent donor participation project podcast, several scrappy innovations can have a big impact. Using a free tool like Zapier to connect data between platforms like your CRM, email marketing, and social media tools eliminates the need for staff to manually copy and paste information. This reduces errors, provides a single source of truth for donor data, and saves many hours of administrative time. With Zapier, one nonprofit automated their gift acknowledgement process, automatically sending email or physical notes to donors.

Another innovation is using free video tools to create personalized thank you messages. Sending authentic videos, even if low-production quality, can make donors feel seen and connected to your mission. One organization sent 35,000 videos with a small student team, leading to $1 million in increased donor retention. Keep videos short, mention the donor by name, and share a heartfelt message.

Streamlining internal processes by eliminating repetition and bottlenecks also frees up resources. Evaluate areas where staff feel frustrated by inefficient procedures or duplication of work. Look for ways to use existing tools smarter, handoff repetitive tasks to automation, and bring teams together to envision an optimized workflow. Incremental improvements to a long, multi-step process can yield significant time savings.

While investing in new technology may be ideal, nonprofits can still improve the donor experience with the tools and capabilities they already have. With creativity, scrappy thinking, and a willingness to eliminate manual processes, organizations can accomplish more with less and strengthen donor relationships through personal outreach and stewardship. Continually reevaluating internal systems and reallocating resources to high-impact areas fuels ongoing optimization and success.

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

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