How to build an effective automation strategy for gift processing

Everyone these days is trying to automate as much as they can. It saves time and effort and streamlines work processes, freeing you and your team to work on problems that need real human ingenuity.

But many small- and medium-sized nonprofits still think affordable automation solutions are out of their reach, technically and fiscally — that advanced automation is only for big players.

This isn’t the case. In fact, much of these tools wind up making you money. There are tasks you’re probably still regularly performing manually that can easily and affordably be automated, regardless of the size of your organization or budget. Read on to find out more.

Gift acknowledgement and receipting

For successful fundraising campaigns, what your company does after a gift is given is crucial. Automating the creation and distribution of thank you notes and compliant tax receipts not only takes a repetitive task off your plate, but it speeds up the process and avoids delays, keeping donors happy and feeling that their gift is appreciated.

What’s more, studies have shown that the quicker a donor receives acknowledgement, the more likely they are to donate again in the future. Email automation tools built into software like MailChimp and Constant Contact bring this all within reach of your organization.

Task management and digital nudges

Nonprofit workers often juggle many roles. The amount and diversity of tasks these jobs require can easily get out of hand. PaperSave’s workflow automation tools can help you manage it all, and preset reminders coordinated with approaching deadlines and third-party schedules can make certain you never forget an important task again — and that goes for your whole team too.

Sometimes it’s as simple as a digital nudge reminding you to follow up with a volunteer or gift prospect, but these little reminders go a long way in ensuring the successful stewardship of important donor relations.

A good first step is to call a brainstorming session with your team and create a list of every repetitive, scheduled task that’s part of your process. Once there is a clear picture of all these tasks, you can program workflows that minimize human intervention.

Create “smart” systems that learn your clients

Here, things get very interesting. Automation can also be aided by the powerful new consumer uses of AI and machine learning. If you have data on specific volunteers and supporters, you can feed this into a fundraising and relationship management solution like Raiser’s Edge, which can then self-generate lists of potential groups of people across available databases for you to focus your efforts on.

These AI-enhanced tools essentially do market research for you, allowing you to focus your time and effort on connecting with and convincing potential collaborators.
Characteristic actions taken by people about to cancel a recurring gift can be targeted as a group for an automated email blast. Are there measurable things differentiating one-time and recurring donors from one another? Your automation solution can separate these among lists and help you craft more effective campaigns.

Autopay options

How are you currently processing payments? Is the system you use properly integrated with your fundraising software?

Once these two essential processes are synced, payment and receipts can be tied together into an automated process you never have to touch again. Otherwise, you’re stuck recording all this information manually into whatever customer relationship management system you’re using, leaving your operation prone to human error at several points along the way.

Additionally, these transactions and the metadata surrounding them can now be tracked, opening opportunities for further automation in the future. Building your data ecosystem this way also creates new opportunities for getting more out of the rapidly advancing technology at your disposal.

Getting started

It’s time to get your team together and begin brainstorming. For any additional assistance getting everything together and selecting the right automation solutions for your nonprofit, reach out to a PaperSave representative now. Or, if you want to learn more about PaperSave’s robust features, schedule a free personalized demo.

It’s really easy now for employees to create their expense reports. From the app or their computer, they just select the expense lines they want to include on the report and submit it. It then starts routing automatically through the approval process we’ve set up.

— Joe Crupper, CPA, Director of General and Trust Accounting at Free Methodist Foundation

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