3 types of marketing automation fundraising operations need to understand (including one you really need to deploy right away)

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Greg Warner is CEO and Founder of MarketSmart, a revolutionary marketing software and services firm that helps nonprofits raise more for less. In 2012 Greg coined the phrase “Engagement Fundraising” to encapsulate his breakthrough fundraising formula for achieving extraordinary results. Using their own innovative strategies and technologies, MarketSmart helps fundraisers around the world zero in on the donors most ready to support their organizations and institutions with major and legacy gifts.

In this previous post we discussed the fact that lower-level, basic automation works better for raising low-dollar donors. 

That’s why you need more sophisticated automation if you want to raise major gifts and planned gifts, and you want to move mid-level donors up the pyramid.

Higher levels of automation support the more deliberate (and less impulsive) kind of decision-making process used by major and legacy gift donors. You’ll need that kind of tech if you want to raise more money more efficiently.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. In this post we’ll consider all 3 types of automation.

3 types of fundraising automation

1- Basic automation: mass email automation 

Most of the email automation examples listed earlier fall into this basic category. This includes giving receipts, thank-you emails, autoresponders, etc. Most email delivery systems make it possible to create these types of automations and use basic personalization features like names, cities and companies.

2- Mid-level automation: mass email + campaign automation

With these systems, you can increase personalization and create email scheduling as well as what are called drip campaigns: a series of messages at predetermined intervals. 

Some mid-level automation systems include adaptive capabilities. For instance, you might have a drip campaign about funding a particular program, but you only want it to go to people who have clicked on a particular link from another email. With automation, once a person clicks that email, the drip campaign fires up and starts getting sent out.

Mid-level automations also often allow for lead scoring, which assigns point values to recipients based on actions they take. The more emails a person opens, clicks or replies to, the higher their score. Then you can prioritize your most active subscribers and look for special ways to reach out and engage them further.

3- High-level automation: mass email + comprehensive inbound marketing automation

Now, in addition to all the basic and mid-level features, you can create marketing ‘assets’ such as landing pages with forms (so supporters can subscribe or download information while you collect their contact information) and microsites (so they can involve themselves more deeply with news regarding how you make impact on their behalf or how they can give).  

You can also segment your lists in hyper-specific ways so you can make your automated emails more personalized and relevant. And you can track each individual supporter as they engage and navigate all of the above over time. 

types of marketing automation comparison

How all this applies to the raising of major gifts (including planned gifts)

Major gifts (including legacy gifts) fundraising depends more on personalization, relevance, relationship, and timeliness than any other type of fundraising. It also usually involves communicating with one person (or a small handful of people) at a time. The only way to scale that level of communication in an effective way is with high-level automation.

Fundraising automation enables this level of engagement with high-value, philanthropic-minded individuals. Standard marketing automation doesn’t.

However, here’s a big problem!

None of the usual big business, private sector automation platforms were built for major gifts fundraising. 

As a result, trying to reshape them into a version that serves your needs is like turning a baseball stadium into a soccer stadium. Yes, it can be done, in some cases. But it sure looks funny, and some people end up in really bad seats with terrible views. 

That won’t sit well with most of your major gift donors, and it won’t work out well for your organization.

You need high-level automation because it facilitates major giving

It helps your best people do what they do best. It maximizes their performance and optimizes your resources. It helps your team do more with less.

Plus it helps you leverage technology to perform the four major tasks major gifts fundraisers desperately want you to automate for them:

  1. Generating leads 
  2. Qualifying donor prospects 
  3. Cultivating and stewarding relationships 
  4. Prioritizing outreach so they spend their time wisely and land more meetings that result in meaningful conversations centered around major giving (philanthropy)

Remember, the best gift officers would rather be meeting with supporters. Offering them opportunities for involvement. Building relationships. Providing service. Facilitating decision-making. And, yes—asking for, negotiating and closing gifts.

They aren’t as interested in wild-goose chases—spending precious time noodling wealth-screening data only to find (⅔ of the time) that an identified prospect is not really qualified after all. 

And they certainly aren’t interested in writing and testing which subject lines inspire supporters to open and click-through their emails. Or developing content offers, landing pages or micro sites to engage supporters. 

Support your team so they can support your supporters

In my next post, we’ll look at several of the biggest ways high-level fundraising automation can support your major gifts fundraising team. This is what any automation system must be able to do if it’s going to be worth your time.

 

Related Posts:

>> The case for marketing automation: Why nonprofit fundraising operations should automate tasks to optimize staff performance

>> How marketing automation helps nonprofits raise more major gifts, planned gifts and mid-level gifts at lower cost

>> Can your nonprofit organization afford to invest in marketing automation?

>> Do you really need MORE gift officers to raise more money?

>> Top 10 ways marketing automation helps nonprofits raise more money for less

>> How to put marketing automation to work for your nonprofit’s fundraising

 

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