Unlock Growth with Fundraising Automation

How can nonprofits elevate their fundraising efforts beyond traditional methods to achieve greater success? Discover the transformative impact of fundraising automation. By integrating smart, automated processes, nonprofits can enhance donor engagement, optimize resources, and set a new standard for achieving and surpassing fundraising goals.

At the end of a successful fundraising year, my client asked me, “What do we do in the new year to get to the next level?” They had beat their annual goals, beat industry trends, and were in a strong cash position for the coming year. 

This particular client had created a strong, workhorse fundraising program that could acquire and cultivate donors all year round, regardless of channel. The problem was that their program was still deeply rooted in one-by-one touchpoints, all of which were uniquely crafted.

There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, it’s why they tout some of the strongest donor retention rates I’ve seen to date. For this group, the thing that would take their program to the next level came from an unlikely suggestion.

Fundraising Automation.

Automation—and more specifically, Fundraising Automation— is a term that carries the connotation of being “complicated” or “better saved for one day when we have time to map that out.” 

While both of those may be true, stopping the conversation there limits the benefit to our donors and ourselves.

That’s right. 

Integrating automation into the fundraising programs you manage will create a more lively and always-on experience for the donor journey, but it also has the ability to help maximize your time.

Successful Fundraising Automation with Donors in Mind

I bet when you heard the question about getting to the next level, your first thought was not “automations are the key!” For most, automations are not top of mind because they can seem involved and extensive. While that perception can be accurate, these curated mini-donor journeys are too easily overlooked. The perceived time investment keeps many organizations at bay, leaving only the brave few to actually experience the successful fundraising magic it creates.

Take second-gift conversion automation. This would involve a series of emails that target a first-time donor shortly after they make their first gift. The series would:

  • Recognize the donor’s behavior
  • Trigger communication
  • Provide curated (though templated) emails
  • Allow your organization to stay top of mind
  • Reinforce the good feels a donor had when they made that first gift

While there was only ONE upfront time investment to create the series, you communicated a few key elements to the donor by setting up this automation:

  • We see you
  • We want to invite you into our mission
  • You are a part of us
  • There is more good to do
  • You are a critical part of meeting that need

When you think about the time investment as it compares to the relational equity you just created with a donor who is testing you out, it’s a no-brainer. Especially in fundraising, relationships change everything™. 

Automations create natural pathways to further exercise relationships with our donors. By creating automated touchpoints for various triggered behaviors, we can ensure the infrastructure of donor journeys is built with this relationship in mind. And it’s when donors find relationships and connections that we see larger gifts and long-term commitment to nonprofits.

That is an end goal worth chasing. 

Take the next step! Learn how to cultivate deep donor relationships at scale. Download The Donor Journey ebook for a step-by-step guide to building impactful donor journeys.

Successful Fundraising Automations for Nonprofits

Focusing on implementing high-value marketing automations for nonprofits will naturally create foundational lifts in your successful fundraising program. From revenue, donor retention, and even file growth—but there is a bigger benefit that rarely ever gets screen time.


When we set up functional and intuitive automation pathways, we create an opportunity for our teams to get time back that they can, in turn, decide how best to use. I’ve yet to meet any individual working in the nonprofit sector who has willingly said, “Me! I have lots more time to give. Just let me know what I can do next.” Generally, it’s the opposite. 

The nonprofit sector has a way of attracting people with generous hearts who are willing to take on a multitude of jobs to ensure the mission continues. It’s part of what makes this sector so incredible.

But what if we could build processes and systems that leverage automation to still move the needle with the key value metrics on a donor file, and still honor our people? It just may be possible.

If we revisit the second-gift conversion series mentioned earlier, consider the reach that is made available when the series isn’t in place. Likely minimal. It may be just your database that knows when a donor gives their second gift, but if that information doesn’t make it to the right people, a key donor milestone is missed. 

When a donor crosses the threshold of giving a first gift to giving a second gift, it’s like the donor decided to sample you as they walked by. Maybe you had a great ad, your offer was strong, or you got to them at the right time, so they said, “Why not?” They gave a gift.

Without automations like a second-gift conversion series, that donor may keep on walking with the sample and carrying on with their day. With an automation in place, you can make sure every sample is acknowledged. Every sample has a chance for deeper engagement. Every sample just might be the start of a beautiful relationship.

The fundraisers who get it and prioritize automations will multiply their team’s reach and span. They will deploy messaging that communicates that they are ready to meet and carry donors through a more relational donor journey. And when they do, you can bet a deeper relationship will be brokered between donors (old and new) and their nonprofit. 

If major donor work has taught us anything, it’s this heightened commitment to relationships that will grow long-term donor value. 

As 2024 takes off, if you’re still looking for the big and exciting ideas that also transform your fundraising program, I dare you to think differently. Maybe this is the year to test a new channel, go into a new market, or introduce an innovative offer. But maybe it’s also the year to grab the low-hanging fruit that, at its core, is built to multiply. 

This is the year to honor your donor journey and honor your people by creating scalable and relational automations. You can’t afford not to.

To begin building relationships at day one, check out other content from DickersonBakker, like “10 Ways Nonprofits Can Retain More Donors in 2024” 

What you should do now

Below are three ways we can help you begin your journey to building more personalized fundraising with responsive technology.

Take a self-guided tour of Virtuous, where you can explore the platform at your own pace and see if Virtuous is right for you. 

Download our free Responsive Maturity Model and learn the 5 steps to more personalized donor experiences.

If you know another nonprofit pro who’d enjoy reading this page, share it with them via Email, Linkedin, Twitter, or Facebook.

The Responsive Maturity Model
5 Steps to More Personalized Donor Experiences
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Grow generosity with Virtuous.

Virtuous is the responsive fundraising software platform proven to help nonprofit organizations increase generosity by serving all donors personally, no matter their gift size.

“Virtuous truly understands nonprofits and the importance of our mission. And their open access to data and built-in custom reports gave us access to the data we need.”
Todd Shinabarger
Chief Information Officer