Marketing Automation for Nonprofits and Churches

Churches have successfully used updated, technology-enabled strategies to reach out to members; nonprofits can do the same with these helpful tips!

Marketing Automation for Nonprofits and Churches
8 mins read

Preaching the Gospel of Marketing Automation

Similar to most small nonprofits, churches are based in community. Members of the congregation want to contribute to that community and to their church to keep it strong and able to fulfill its mission. That means the lessons learned by one apply to the other, at least some of the time.

Nowadays, churches are using newer methods of marketing automation to engage their members and encourage “tithing,” or the biblical requirement to donate 10% of one’s income. Leveraging this new technology, churches can easily message their community and share invitations for support.

The same concept applies to nonprofits⁠—especially small ones. To be a community-powered nonprofit, there are a few tips from churches that can be applied to your nonprofit’s work:

  1. Segment Supporters
  2. Boost Your Social Media Presence
  3. Automate Text Messaging
  4. Utilize Giving Best Practices

Marketing automation takes tithing for churches and giving for nonprofits to entirely new levels. Let’s take a look at these tips in more detail.

1. Segment Supporters

With the right tools, churches segment their tithers into groups based on various criteria. This means they communicate with their members in different ways to help them along their giving journey. As donating online has grown in popularity, especially among younger generations, churches have begun to tailor their outreach to distinct groups based on interests and levels of engagement to maximize online giving.

Just as churches segment their members, small nonprofits also have the ability to send the right message to the right individual at the right time, improving fundraising and marketing results.

By segmenting your supporters, your nonprofit can:

  • Personalize your message. Different individuals have different motivations for giving to your cause. Finding commonalities among your community will help you segment your audiences and personalize the different information you send.
  • Improve your emails. By segmenting donors based on their interests and when they first began interacting with you, you can personalize content an increase open, click-through, and donation rates.
  • Increase the gifts you receive. When outreach is personalized, individuals will be more likely to give and continue their generosity. Asking for contributions isn’t always easy, but Double the Donation outlines helpful ways to do this.

Churches and nonprofits both benefit from segmenting their lists and personalizing outreach. As a primary step in establishing a marketing automation strategy, segmentation can’t be overlooked.

2. Boost Your Social Media Presence

Churches typically use social media to post events, interact with members, and highlight projects or mission trips. Just as churches are use social media, your nonprofit can find its voice on these platforms, too!

Although there’s no way to completely eliminate the time needed to establish and maintain your presence, you can cut the amount of time you invest online way back by scheduling posts and targeting your outreach.

Remember these tips when incorporating social media into your strategy:

  • Use a variety of accounts. Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook are great places to start. For example, use Twitter as a “virtual bulletin board” to talk about all of your upcoming events and get your community excited. This is especially useful when attempting to engage Millennials.
  • Post regularly. Take the time to figure out what kind of frequency you can maintain over time, then stick to that schedule instead of posting a ton and then going dark. Use tools like HootSuite and Sprout Social to pre-schedule regular updates and then supplement those automated posts with more timely information as you have news to share.
  • Get personal. Use social media to tag specific people who have made a difference with your cause. Let individuals know the impact they’ve made!

Social media is a great platform for posting about your cause, starting meaningful conversations, and interacting with your community. The financial cost will be low, but the time and energy you put into maintaining your social media accounts can make a huge impact in your community.

3. Automate Text Messaging

Many churches engage their congregations through text messaging. Automating text messages is an impactful way to reach out to donors and prospects and meet them where they’re at: on their mobile phones!

Beyond simple text messaging, text-to-give services allow members to give whenever they feel motivated to do so. Your nonprofit can also incorporate text-to-give.

Offering text-to-give offers these advantages:

  • Flexibility in giving. Donors may feel inspired to give following a Sunday service or a great talk at your gala but may not have any cash on them. By offering text-to-give, they can still contribute! Text-to-give enables people to give on their own time whenever generosity strikes. Using this type of software also makes payment processing easier, sending contributions directly to your nonprofit.
  • Easy acknowledgment. Using text-to-give software automatically acknowledges your donors individually for their generosity. You can thank them via text, or whatever their preferred communication channel is, and acknowledge their contributions toward specific projects.

Text messaging is a great marketing automation tool that churches use to get the word out and share updates and a range of opportunities for engagement. Adding the ability to give via text takes this engagement a step further.

4. Utilize Giving Best Practices

Choosing a strategy to encourage giving is a feat on its own, but marketing automation will make fundraising easier if you:

  • Create interesting and relevant content. Not only should you post content regularly, such as on social media, but your content should be relevant, engaging, and interesting. It should also be designed to speak to a variety of audiences and appeal to multiple members of your community.
  • Look at your data. Analyzing the results of past campaigns and emails enables you to see what’s working and what’s not. For example, look at email click-through rates and run experiments to figure out what resonates best with your audience. If you notice recipients of your outreach aren’t interacting with your messages, modify your approach and take another look at how you’ve segmented your audience.
  • Recognize and encourage. For first-time donors and recurring donors, as well as with lapsed donors who have stopped giving, use email automation features that allow you to set up custom messages for outreach for each of these scenarios. Thank and acknowledge your givers for their contribution and encourage re-engagement for those who have stopped giving. For even more ways to show your appreciation, check out Bonfire’s list of thank-you gift ideas.
  • Plan for success. Schedule campaigns that use automated, conditional communication rules and sequences to send out a series of messages that adjust based on recipients’ responses. With the right marketing automation tools, this is quite simple to do.

When nonprofits create relevant content, analyze their data, recognize, encourage, and engage, they come that much closer to reaching their goals. By following a similar path that churches take to gather contributions, reach out to their members, and form a close-knit community, nonprofits can flourish.

There are many opportunities for small nonprofits to take advantage of marketing automation. From following segmentation best practices, to posting regularly on social media and inspiring giving through text, your nonprofit can meet and surpass its goals.

About the Author

Kingsley Allen has been involved in designing, developing, and operating software for over 25 years. Much of his recent career has been invested in helping churches leverage technology to grow and reach people. Kingsley worked with the Fellowship One church management system for 10 years, leading the product and development teams from startup mode through the acquisition by ACTIVE Network. Post-acquisition, he served as general manager of the Faith business unit and and strategy and partnerships for ACTIVE’s Communities division. As VP of Product Development at Vision2, he helps guide the continued development of Vision2 into a world-class giving engagement platform.

Articles on Blue Avocado do not provide legal representation or legal advice and should not be used as a substitute for advice or legal counsel. Blue Avocado provides space for the nonprofit sector to express new ideas. Views represented in Blue Avocado do not necessarily express the opinion of the publication or its publisher.

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