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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

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!

Conferences Donor Participation Project

Marketing Automation Study Group (June/July 2021)

This session has passed. DPP members can access a video recording, slides, and other materials shared by the presenter. We also hold a small group discussion the week after every presentation for further discussion and networking! Make sure to sign up here to get access.

Sponsored by ThankView

June 23 (12:00 pm EDT) – INFO session – Marketing Automation Study Group

​What is marketing automation? How can it help you provide a better donor experience and save time with reporting/analysis? Join this DPP Breakout session for a brief introduction to marketing automation strategies and software tools.

June 30 (12:00 pm EDT) – Automate Your Donor Experience Workflows with ThankView

​Join JD Beebe, CEO of ThankView, and his team to build integrations that will take your donor experience to another level. Trigger a video message after getting a phonathon call? Add donors who watch a video message to a personalized outreach list? No problem! We’ll learn together how to build these workflows and others using Zapier and the ThankView API. (Free trial of ThankView included for DPP participants who schedule a training session.)

July 14 (12:00 pm EDT) – Automated Solicitation and Upgrade Strategies with Nic Prenger

​Learn how to use MS Power Automate to integrate with your CRM and customize donor stewardship messaging, We will work through examples of building personalized chaser messages and upgrade invites to one-time donors over to monthly/recurring.

July 21 (12:00 pm EDT) – Final Project Presentation

​Each participant will build their own workflow and share it with the group! We’ll then ruthlessly criticize each other’s work (just joking!) and celebrate our progress.

About: The Donor Participation Project (DPP) convenes fundraising professionals who are concerned about the nationwide decline in donor participation (20 million US households lost between 2000-2016). 

We believe this can be solved by changing our fundraising practices and want to learn from peers who are moving the participation needle.

Discuss this Topic and Learn Marketing Automation with this DPP Study Group

  • All sessions will take place over Zoom. Register to get the link.
  • All sessions will be recorded and accessible post-event for DPP members only.

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