Does Your Nonprofit Need Marketing Automation in 2024?

As a nonprofit marketer, you wear many hats. You‘re tasked with raising brand awareness, recruiting volunteers, driving donations, and stewarding relationships with your supporters. And you‘re likely doing it all with a lean team and a limited budget.

Enter marketing automation – the secret weapon that more and more nonprofits are using to scale their impact and engagement. By 2024, it‘s estimated that 76% of nonprofit marketers will be using some form of marketing automation, up from 68% in 2022. (Source)

What is Nonprofit Marketing Automation?

In a nutshell, marketing automation refers to software and technology that allows you to automate, streamline, and measure your marketing tasks and campaigns. For nonprofits, this can include:

  • Sending targeted, personalized emails to segmented lists
  • Serving up relevant website content based on user behavior
  • Qualifying and scoring leads based on their actions
  • Triggering messages across channels (email, social, text, etc.)
  • Reporting on campaign performance and ROI

The key benefit is the ability to deliver the right message to the right supporter at the right time, all while saving your team precious hours and energy.

The Power of Marketing Automation for Nonprofits

Still not convinced? Consider these compelling statistics:

  • Nonprofits that use marketing automation to nurture prospects experience a 451% increase in qualified leads. (Source)
  • Automated email messages average 70.5% higher open rates and 152% higher click-through rates than standard marketing messages. (Source)
  • 80% of marketers report an increase in leads due to automation, and 77% report an increase in conversions. (Source)

But beyond these high-level metrics, marketing automation can offer nonprofits a host of specific benefits:

1. Save time and resources

By automating repetitive tasks like email sends, social media posts, and data entry, your team can focus on more strategic, high-impact work. And with many automation platforms offering nonprofit discounts or free plans, it can be a cost-effective solution as well.

2. Increase donor engagement and retention

Automated welcome series, birthday messages, and impact updates can help new donors feel appreciated and involved from the start. And by segmenting your lists based on giving history and engagement level, you can tailor your appeals and cultivation efforts to each donor‘s unique needs and interests.

3. Boost event attendance and participation

Automated event registration confirmations, reminders, and follow-ups can help drive attendance and reduce no-shows. Plus, you can easily segment your invite lists based on past event attendance, volunteer history, or location to increase relevancy and response rates.

4. Improve data management and analysis

Most marketing automation platforms include robust CRM capabilities, allowing you to store and track vital donor data like contact information, giving history, and engagement activity. With all your data in one centralized location, it‘s easier to glean insights, identify trends, and make data-driven decisions.

Is Your Nonprofit Ready for Marketing Automation?

As powerful as marketing automation can be, it‘s not a magic bullet. To see the best results, there are certain foundational elements your nonprofit should have in place first:

1. A steady stream of leads

Marketing automation works best when you have a growing, engaged base of supporters to communicate with. If your email list has gone stale or your social following has plateaued, focus on lead generation tactics like online petitions, gated content, social media advertising, and search engine optimization first.

2. A multi-channel engagement strategy

The more data you can collect on your supporters‘ interests and preferences, the better you can tailor your automated communications. So if you‘re only engaging via email right now, consider adding additional touchpoints like social media, SMS messaging, direct mail, and phone calls to your mix.

3. Content for every stage of the supporter journey

To keep supporters engaged over time, you‘ll need a library of content that educates, inspires, and motivates action at each stage of their journey with your organization. This could include blog posts, impact stories, annual reports, event invitations, advocacy alerts, and donation appeals. Map out your content calendar to ensure you have enough fuel for your automation engine.

4. Clear conversion goals and data tracking

To measure the success of your automation efforts, you‘ll need to define your key performance indicators (KPIs) upfront and ensure you‘re tracking the necessary data points. This might include email open and click-through rates, form completions, event registrations, volunteer sign-ups, or donation amounts. Make sure your CRM and marketing automation platform are integrated and that you‘re consistently monitoring and analyzing your results.

5. Proven email templates and workflows

Before investing in a full-fledged automation platform, test the waters with a few targeted email drip campaigns. This will give you a chance to refine your messaging, get feedback from your supporters, and establish a benchmark for your KPIs. Once you have a winning formula, you can use marketing automation to replicate and scale your efforts.

Getting Started with Marketing Automation

If you‘ve checked all the boxes above and feel ready to take the plunge, here are a few tips for getting started with marketing automation:

  1. Define your goals and target audience. What do you hope to achieve with marketing automation? More donations, more volunteers, more advocacy actions? And who are the key segments of supporters you want to reach? Get specific and strategic from the outset.

  2. Choose the right automation platform. There are dozens of marketing automation tools on the market, each with different features, integrations, and pricing models. Do your research and select a platform that fits your nonprofit‘s unique needs and budget. (Some popular options include HubSpot, Marketo, Pardot, and Mailchimp.)

  3. Start with a pilot campaign. Rather than automating your entire marketing strategy at once, start small with a targeted welcome series or re-engagement campaign. This will give you a chance to test your content, workflows, and data tracking before scaling up.

  4. Monitor, measure, and optimize. Keep a close eye on your campaign metrics and supporter feedback. What‘s working well? What could be improved? Don‘t be afraid to experiment with different subject lines, calls-to-action, or segmentation criteria to see what resonates best with your audience.

  5. Invest in training and support. Make sure your team has the skills and resources they need to use your automation platform effectively. Take advantage of online tutorials, user communities, and customer support to troubleshoot issues and discover new features.

Marketing Automation Success Stories

Need some inspiration? Check out these real-world examples of nonprofits using marketing automation to great effect:

  • The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) used marketing automation to send targeted, personalized emails to their supporters based on their interests and past donation history. As a result, they saw a 15% increase in email open rates and a 10% increase in donation conversions. (Source)

  • The American Red Cross used marketing automation to streamline their event registration process and improve attendance. By automating event reminders and follow-ups, they were able to increase event registrations by 20% and reduce no-shows by 15%. (Source)

  • The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) used marketing automation to re-engage lapsed donors and win back their support. By segmenting their list based on past giving history and sending targeted, personalized appeals, they were able to recapture 25% of their lapsed donors and increase overall donation revenue by 15%. (Source)


Marketing automation is a powerful tool that can help nonprofits of all sizes and causes engage more supporters, drive more conversions, and make a bigger impact. But it‘s not a one-size-fits-all solution.

To see the best results, you need to have a solid foundation in place first, including a growing email list, a multi-channel engagement strategy, compelling content, clear goals and metrics, and proven email campaigns.

If you‘re just getting started with nonprofit marketing, focus on building those foundational elements first. Then, when you‘re ready to take your efforts to the next level, consider investing in a marketing automation platform that can help you scale your reach and impact.

With the right strategy, tools, and mindset, marketing automation can be a game-changer for your nonprofit in 2024 and beyond. So don‘t be afraid to experiment, iterate, and learn as you go. Your mission (and your supporters) will thank you for it.

Looking for more nonprofit marketing automation tips and resources? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Nonprofit Marketing Automation in 2024.