How To: Fundraising Automation in NeonCRM [Webinar]
With automation, common fundraising tasks that require manual data review, entry, and clean up, can take up less of your time or even be eliminated from your to-do list.
Think of the tasks your team tackles frequently, like:
- sending acknowledgements,
- collecting and keying in new data,
- moving data between various tools,
- sending renewal emails,
- managing event registrations,
- and processing volunteer applications.
Modern tools like NeonCRM and Zapier help you set up automated procedures that save fundraisers time on tasks like these so you can spend more time focused on the tasks that are highest value to your organization.
NeonCRM has invested heavily in integrated solutions that provide you with modern, automated functionality for the most common tasks. For the situations in which their extensive suite of tools and pre-built integrations can’t meet your needs, they’ve even developed a connection with Zapier to allow you to connect your preferred 3rd party tool and automate the flow of data between all your systems, including tools for accounting, event coordination, email management, or more.
In this webinar, we will explore how you can get started with fundraising automation using your NeonCRM system.
Specifically, this webinar will cover:
- How systems automation and integrations can support your day-to-day work and help you scale your organization;
- What the top NeonCRM tools for automation are and how to use them;
- Which automations and integrations are most common; and
- How to get started with automation at your organization.
Webinar transcript (not including Q&A):
Hello all, and welcome to today’s webinar, “How To: Fundraising Automation in NeonCRM.” Thank you for joining us.
My name is Ally Seidel. I am a NeonCRM consultant at Sidekick Solutions.
Sidekick Solutions is a Certified NeonOne Partner, specializing in NeonCRM. We help new and existing NeonCRM users make the most of the platform. A key part of that work, is identifying and developing automated integration systems for NeonCRM users using an integrated tool called Zapier.
We have a strong focus on automation in our consulting work because we believe that automated tools and integrations are essential to your experience in NeonCRM; or any donor database for that matter.
With automation, common fundraising tasks that require manual data review, entry, or clean up, can take less time or even be eliminated from your to-do list.
Recurring tasks, in particular, are good candidates for automation.
Think of the tasks your team tackles frequently, like sending acknowledgements, collecting and keying in new data, sending renewal emails, managing event registrations, and processing volunteer applications. If these tasks start from the same prompt (like, how you’d send a thank you after receiving a new online gift), you likely can save time by setting up automated procedures with modern tools.
NeonCRM offers a variety of tools to help you automate recurring tasks, so you can spend less time managing your data and more time focused on the tasks that are of the highest value to your organization.
Automation can also replace the time you’d otherwise spend integrating data between various tools.
There isn’t a perfect all-in-one fundraising and accounting tool for every organization, and NeonCRM is no exception.
We believe that you should be able to choose the right tool for your specific needs and have it integrate with your CRM.
Because if your tools aren’t integrated, you’re left spending hours every month managing data between multiple systems. This means dealing with spreadsheet imports or entering data manually one at a time, both of which are a waste of time when modern technology makes integrated solutions so accessible.
NeonCRM has invested heavily in integrated solutions that provide you with modern tools for the most common tasks and also allow you to connect your other tools, automating the flow of data between your systems, including those for accounting, event coordination, email management, and more.
Bottom line, whether you need integration or automating recurring tasks, NeonCRM has a suite of tools that you can use to save time, get more done, manage larger amounts of data, and scale your organization.
In this webinar, we will explore how you can take steps into fundraising automation powered by your NeonCRM system.
Specifically we’ll cover:
- Popular NeonCRM tools and…
- How to use them to automate the top 5 most common fundraising workflows
- The most common automations and integrations that you could implement to support your day-to-day work; and,
- How to get started with automation at your organization.
Then, we’ll wrap with Q&A at the end. If you have questions during the presentation, you can send them through the questions panel. I’ll stay after the presentation to make sure all questions are answered.
Alright, let’s dive in.
NeonCRM is an automation-enabled platform designed to simplify development tasks and processes.
Of its many features, NeonCRM’s most popular tools used for automation include…
- System emails & letters
- Online forms
- The Constituent login portal
- The Workflows tool
- Built-in integrations with 3rd party tools like Quickbooks Online, EventBrite, Rallybound, and more; and
- Zapier-enabled integrations for fully customizable automations with over 1,500 3rd party applications.
Neon’s system emails and letters allow users to automate transactional communications for more than 25 different events, including…
- Sending receipts for new transactions,
- Sending pledge reminders,
- Mailing membership renewal requests,
- And more…
By modifying the System Email & Letter Defaults under Global Settings, you can set up automated emails and add letters automatically to a mail merge queue for bulk letter generation every time an event occurs.
You can even go one step further and customize automated email and letter preferences based on whether the event was triggered by online vs. staff-entered data, or even based on whether the online event was from a public access vs. constituent login web forms.
On top of that, NeonCRM allows you to set up tailored versions of letters and emails that generate based on custom criteria.
Here’s an example of using conditional logic to send a separate email to thank tribute donors from general donors. But this same tool can be used to generate custom emails or letters based on gift size, account type, campaign, and more.
Setting up your system emails and letters to match your communication strategy can be a huge time-saver. If you’re currently generating event-based communications manually, I strongly recommend taking a closer look at this key NeonCRM feature to see if you’re getting the most from it.
Online forms is another key NeonCRM feature that can save you time by automating data collection and entry tasks.
NeonCRM offers integrated online forms for a wide variety of uses, including collecting:
- event registrations,
- membership payments,
- online store purchases,
- peer to peer fundraising donations,
- volunteer applications and project sign ups,
- email subscriptions,
- new/updated account information,
- and more with custom forms.
All these forms add data directly to your NeonCRM system without requiring additional data entry. Forms can be customized to look like your website, to collect data in custom fields, and to allow individual vs. corporate form submissions.
If Neon’s suite of online forms do not meet your needs, they also offer custom forms that can be built from scratch to collect data online, with or without payment processing.
NeonCRM allows you to go one step further in automating online data collection with their Constituent Login Portal.
The Constituent Login Portal allows constituents to log into their own NeonCRM account to:
- Manage their own donations
- Update their account information
- View their transaction history, and
- Access and submit any forms or web pages you’ve made available to them.
If you use online forms and haven’t yet turned on NeonCRM’s ‘Encouraged Login’ feature, I’d encourage you to consider it. This feature helps reduce duplicate account creation when constituents complete online forms by prompting all online form visitors to login before submitting the form. If you find you’re having to clean up a high number of duplicate accounts in your database, you might give it a try — you can turn on this feature in Global Settings.
Beyond offering automated data management and transparency to your donors, the Constituent Login Portal is perfect for tailoring online content to specific segments of your constituents. For example, if you want members to have a discounted event registration price, or board members to access board-specific information online, you can do so with NeonCRM web tools and the Constituent Login Portal.
Next up is one of my personal favorites: NeonCRM’s Workflows tool.
Workflows is a tool specifically designed to automate recurring tasks in your NeonCRM system.
This tool allows you to define an action you’d like the system to take each time a specific condition is met, allowing you to automate actions based on data-driven events in your database.
You can trigger automated actions off of…
- Events, like a new donation created,
- Dates, like birthday or pledge due; or
- New accounts matching other, custom criteria
For example, you could use the Workflows tool to automatically:
- Send a welcome email 1 day after a donor’s 1st gift
- Create an activity record to call a donor after a major gift
- Update accounts to correct data entry gaps
- And much more…
There are a wide number of actions Workflows can help you automate, including sending emails, updating account fields, emailing reports, and more.
Try setting up your own Workflow for a full list of available triggers and actions.
For automating data sharing between NeonCRM and your other fundraising tools, NeonCRM offers a long list of certified, built-in integrations to automate data sharing between common fundraising tools and your CRM.
The most popular built-in integrations used by NeonCRM users include:
- Integrated payment processing with NeonPay or other 3rd party processors
- Quickbooks for accounting data entry and reconciliation
- EventBrite for event coordination
- NeonOne’s RallyBound for modern peer to peer fundraising
- DonorSearch and iWave for prospect research
- MailChimp and Constant Contact for bulk emails
- And many more…
If you’re looking for robust integration options for accounting, data enrichment, analytics, event, advocacy, and other tools, take a look at NeonCRM’s integration partners and their certified pre-built integrations available in Global Settings.
Now, one of the integrations you’ll find in NeonCRM’s certified integration listing is for an automation tool called Zapier.
NeonCRM’s Zapier integration offers users who do not find what they need in NeonCRM tools and built-in integrations to build their own automated integrations with over 1,500 applications, including Shopify, MailChimp, Emma, Eventbrite, Google Forms, and many more.
Zapier is a separate application from NeonCRM that will allow you to enhance your productivity by automating procedures with workflows across multiple applications.
With Zapier, you have…
- The ability to build and manage integrations with over 1,500 applications in a single platform, with no coding required.
- Zapier also provides visibility to integration performance, so you know what data has gone through the integration and when. And,
- Zapier’s workflow builder provides custom mapping and unique design options.
Zapier operates in a similar way to NeonCRM’s Workflow tool and has the same basic building blocks. Just as with the Workflow tool, automations with Zapier start with a “Trigger”.
In Zapier, a trigger is an event in one app that starts a workflow.
Once you have a trigger, you can then add action steps to complete the workflow.
Actions in Zapier are tasks completed following the trigger. These can include actions in another app (like creating or updating records), formatting steps for custom data mapping, or filters so that you can design each workflow to only run for the specific data you have in mind.
Take a look at NeonCRM’s application listing on Zapier.com for information on the pre-built triggers and actions available for building custom integrations with NeonCRM. You can also find ideas for automated workflows with other apps to spark some inspiration on how you might use Zapier to meet your automation goals.
There is likely an unlimited number of ways to use NeonCRM tools for automation, because they are designed to be customizable to each organization.
Even so, there is a lot of overlap between fundraising offices, development tasks, and automation goals.
With that in mind, let’s explore some of the most common ways to use these tools to automate fundraising tasks.
The 5 most popular use cases for automation with NeonCRM tools include:
- Online data collection or streamlined data entry,
- Event-triggered emails, like acknowledgements & reminders,
- Segmented mass communications,
- Integrated accounting; and,
- Task management.
NeonCRM is ahead of the market on what it offers for online features.
Most commonly, users choose to automate their online data collection by using NeonCRM’s integrated web forms designed to match your website and collect donations, event registrations, memberships, store purchases, and more.
If you’re looking to go further, you can tailor your online content to individual constituents using the constituent login portal and compatible forms and webpages. Or, you can use built-in integrations to connect with 3rd party applications like EventBrite and RallyBound which sync data added to their platform into NeonCRM without requiring manual entry.
With NeonCRM’s Zapier app, you now have even more options.
You can use your preferred online form platform, like Classy, Gravity Forms, Wufoo, Shopify, etc., and build your own workflow with custom mapping to automatically write form submissions received in that platform over to NeonCRM via Zapier.
With Zapier you can create any workflow as long as the trigger you need is available in the source application. If we’re looking to add form submissions to NeonCRM, we need a Zapier trigger for “New Form Submission” from the source application, in this case Gravity Forms. We also need actions allowing us to write data to the target application, in this case, NeonCRM.
Since New Form Submission is available as a trigger event for Gravity Forms, we can build a workflow in Zapier to add form submissions received via a Gravity Form directly to NeonCRM. In this example, we could write each form submission to NeonCRM as an account and a donation, matching to an existing account if one is found.
NeonCRM automation can also significantly reduce the time you spend processing acknowledgements and other event-based communications.
To get started with automated thank yous, set your System Email & Letter defaults in NeonCRM for each event you want to trigger automated emails or letters for. Then set up tailored email and letter versions per event and use conditional logic to tell NeonCRM which email or letter you want automatically generated when new donations, event registrations, memberships, and more occur.
To go further with NeonCRM tools, use the same functionality to automate retention tasks as well so that you never miss a renewal opportunity again.
By setting up defaults, letter and email versions, and conditions for transaction “pay later” and “anniversary” events, you can automatically generate reminders for pledge payments and renewals.
If NeonCRM’s built-in tools for system emails and letters don’t offer you the experience or depth of customization you’re looking for, you also have the option to turn to Zapier integrations.
As long as your your preferred email application is connected to Zapier, you can use Zapier workflows to generate emails or letters in an application like Mandrill each time a new donation is added in NeonCRM.
Here’s what a workflow like that would look like.
NeonCRM’s Zapier application allows us to trigger workflows on “New Donation”. In this example, we use that trigger and a filter step to complete a workflow that sends an email from Mandrill using the data that comes through the workflow from NeonCRM as merge tokens in an email template created in Mandrill.
Being able to automatically segment email audiences for tailored communications is a critical feature for development offices. When you’re looking to email your individual donors, your lapsed donors, or some other segment of your constituency, your CRM and email systems should make segmenting your list easy, otherwise you’re spending time manually cleaning up mailing lists and creating new audiences each time you send an email.
NeonCRM’s Campaign Email tool allows you to generate and send emails to any segment of your database without having to leave the platform.
The best way to automate your communication segments in NeonCRM is to build Dynamic Audiences. This feature allows you to search NeonCRM with custom criteria and create a dynamic list of accounts that will update as NeonCRM accounts are modified and fall on and off the list.
To start, you might create dynamic audiences for all donors this year, all major donors this year, and all lapsed donors allowing you to segment your next appeal mailing.
To go one step further, consider using NeonCRM’s Workflows tool to send one or more new donor welcome emails after an account’s first gift.
If you use a 3rd party email tool, NeonCRM offers built-in integrations for MailChimp and Constant Contact so that each time you want to send an email you can easily push over your segmented audience from NeonCRM to your email platform.
With Zapier you can go one step further and automatically add or remove subscribers from your 3rd party email tool when an event occurs in NeonCRM. Essentially you can set it and forget it, so they each time you send an email through tools like MailChimp, Mad Mimi, or Constant Contact, you don’t have to take any action to ensure your email list is up to date.
Zapier also gives you the ability to automatically sync account and giving data for your subscribers in a 3rd party email tool, so that you have the ability to automatically segment your subscriber list based on donor information and don’t have to recreate the wheel each time you send out an appeal.
Here’s an example workflow that would allow us to automatically add and remove subscribers in MailChimp whenever an account is updated in NeonCRM with Email Opt In or Email Opt Out statuses.
Automating accounting data entry and reconciliation is one of the most common challenges I encounter with nonprofit database users.
If your accounting and donor database systems are not integrated, you end up spending double the time logging new transactions because you have to key them in separately into both tools.
For Quickbooks users, be sure you’re using NeonCRM’s robust built-in Quickbooks integration tool.
This tool queues up new transactions for your review and approval in NeonCRM and then allows you to push all approved transactions directly to Quickbooks using custom mapping without requiring duplicate data entry.
If you need more advanced custom mapping, use an alternate accounting tool, or simply want your transactions to automatically be logged in your accounting software without requiring review in NeonCRM, Zapier may be a good solution for you.
NeonCRM’s Zapier application allows you to build a workflow and custom mapping that automatically adds transactions created in NeonCRM to accounting systems like QuickBooks Online, Xero, Zoho Books, and more.
You can even use Zapier to solve other accounting-related challenges, like sending automated invoices to prompt payment on pledges.
When building a workflow in Zapier to automate data entry into an accounting tool like Xero, you can use action steps to customize how your NeonCRM data will match your chart of accounts and other transaction categories in your accounting software.
When it comes to task management, every development office is doing something different. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to making sure work gets done and opportunities for donor cultivation don’t go unattended.
NeonCRM’s tools for tracking donor stewardship activities and helping you get them done center around the Activity record.
Staff can create activity records to track donor stewardship actions and assign next steps to system users. Each activity record can be set to send reminder emails to the assigned staff member and will also show on that user’s activity dashboard to ensure work gets done.
To truly automate task management with Neon Activity records, however, you’ll want to explore the Workflows tool.
Workflows can be used to prompt cultivation action by automatically creating activities assigned to a user, sending emails or reports, and more based on event, date, or conditional triggers in Neon.
Say, you want to personally call anyone who gives over $500. You can use Workflows and Activity records in Neon to automatically create an activity assigned to you when a $500 gift comes in.
If you prefer to use a separate task management system, like Asana, Basecamp, or a calendar, you can use Zapier to automate reminders or create tasks in your preferred tool so that all of your tasks are managed in one place without requiring manual entry. You can even go one step further, and set up Zapier to update or log activity records in NeonCRM when your task is marked complete.
Zapier offers users who are comfortable with code the ability to make custom triggers and actions using modern API technology.
In this example workflow, we use a code step to find and update an activity record in NeonCRM once an associated task is completed in Asana.
As these examples illustrate, NeonCRM offers a suite of automation tools to help you get more done, including Zapier-enabled automations, which offer users fully customizable solutions between NeonCRM and your preferred tools. With Zapier, there is little need to manually move data between different systems again.
If you’re still feeling uninspired, here are some other ways you could use automation in your daily fundraising tasks…
- Flag someone as a prospect upon large first-time gift
- Notify Board members of gifts made by their contacts
- Sync activities in NeonCRM with a Google calendar
- Run real-time dashboards in a spreadsheet; or
- Log activities via BCC email or web form entry
- Collect & respond to form responses in 3rd party app
- Set tasks & reminders based on activity in NeonCRM
- Create & send email invoices for pledges in 3rd party app
- Subscribe new donors to a welcome email series; or
- Send automated pledge payment reminders
- Send automated lapsed donor/member renewals
- Schedule automatic duplicate scans to identify clean up
- Set automated email notices of data quality gaps
- Sync up a Shopify store with NeonCRM store products & purchases; or
- Add transactions to NeonCRM from 3rd party platforms
And many more. With NeonCRM tools and Zapier, the ways in which you can use automation to help you get more done are really only limited by your creativity.
So how can you get started with automation at your organization?
If you’re looking to set up more automation in your development office, there are five steps we recommend.
First off, while it can be tempting to jump straight into creating an automation wish list, we recommend first taking the time to complete an assessment to identify where investing in automation will be the most impactful for your organization.
Depending on the tools and configuration required to set up the workflows you need, you may encounter additional technology costs. With your assessment in hand, you can create a prioritized wish list of automations, each with a case for support based on how much time you will save on manual work that can be refocused on higher-value tasks.
Once you’re ready to get new automations in place, we recommend diagramming the workflow you’d like in detail. Specifically, what “event” will trigger the workflow? And what “actions” need to happen to complete the workflow?
With the workflow diagrammed, you’ll have the information you need to review and select the tools needed to get the automation setup, and only then, to build and test your integration until it’s functioning the way you envisioned.
If you’re looking for support in identifying and building out automations in your NeonCRM platform, get in touch.
We’d be happy to discuss your goals and explore ways we can help you get the most out of your suite of fundraising tools.
With that, thank you for joining us today!
You’ll be receiving a follow up email with today’s recording and slides.
At this point, I’m happy to take any questions you have.
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