Zapier for Nonprofits: 14 Ways to Do More on a Limited Budget

Emily Irish
Emily Irish / Published May 4, 2017

A nonprofit that stops human trafficking. A charity that offers free mental healthcare to veterans. An organization that plants trees in Washington, DC. Though their missions might be different, these nonprofit organizations have one thing in common: They use technology to do more with limited resources.

YouthSpark, The Soldier Project, and Casey Trees, for example, use Zapier to automate their daily tasks and get more done even with budget and personnel restraints. Here's how 12 nonprofits use automated workflows to help solve societal and organizational problems.

Budget-Friendly Tech Solutions

"Zapier has completely transformed our ability to support our volunteers and deliver our mission."Action for Happiness

Small, local nonprofits often feel the squeeze of a tight budget dependent on donations or grants. But you don’t need a huge team or the latest and greatest CRM to have a big impact on a small budget—you just need the right workflows.

Build the Systems You Need on the Cheap

Your budget also shouldn’t limit you from using software that will empower your team to do their best work.

Creighton Community Foundation is an inner-city nonprofit in Phoenix, AZ that partners with schools to structure student-to-community engagement and enrichment. For example, one of the organization's projects is the Parent-Teacher Organization Incubator, which equips schools with the initial guidance, talent, and financial resources to start up meaningful PTOs that achieve sustainability and create an impact.

As you might imagine, this entails tracking a lot of information and connections, and top-of-the-line software for this is often outside a nonprofit's budget.

Zapier enables us to leverage cost-effective nonprofit friendly (free or nearly free) tools and still build integrated information systems—from tracking donations to tracking community points of contact—without huge investments in overly complex software.

If we weren't using Zaps, I suspect we'd have pretty fragmented information silos with lots of contacts and interactions falling through the cracks.

Try Creighton Community Foundation's workflows with Insightly, Donately, and Constant Contact!

Manage and Organize Your Events

"Zapier saves us time and lets us get back to what we do best."The Soldiers Project

In the whirlwind of modern life—and especially modern business—I think we all find ourselves wishing for our very own personal assistant to schedule our lives. But since most of us can’t afford that, here’s the next best thing: quick workflows to make your events apps work smarter and harder for you.

Streamline Registrations

Most customer relationship management (CRM) apps don’t have good event registration options, and most event apps don’t have a good way of keeping track of contacts and relationships. For example, Natasha Medina, National Program Director of The Soldiers Project, which provides free mental health services to post-9/11 military veterans and their loved ones, says "Our data was living in three separate platforms and we had to manually enter the information from one platform to another."

This data was mostly for their training registrations, and Natasha and her crew were registering attendees in each separate platform to keep the information accurate and synced.

Now, they use Zaps to connect Eventbrite to Anymeeting and Anymeeting to Salesforce. Their entire registration process now runs automatically.

Zapier allows all the data to be streamlined into Salesforce. It saves staff time because it eliminates the need to manually enter information from one platform to another and lets staff get back to what The Soldiers Project does best - providing free mental health services to post 9/11 veterans through our network of volunteer mental health professionals.

Try the Soldiers Project’s Eventbrite and Anymeeting workflows!

Collaborate with Your Team

Collaborating with team members, volunteers, and vendors is a must for pulling off a successful event. But an event taskforce is only as good as its information and, let’s face it—it’s tough to efficiently keep everyone up to date.

Rick Frye, Director of Finance & Communication at Denver’s North Metro Church, used to spend a lot of time updating event organizers, and they still weren’t getting the data processed quickly enough.

"As a church," Frye says, "we have lots of events and activities for people to register for. I was using two or three different form tools, each with their own way of exporting data, and I had to export form entries to a CSV or Excel spreadsheet, then email that to event organizers, typically once a week until the event was over."

Setting up a simple workflow saved him and his team a lot of time. Rick explains their new process: "I use Zaps to capture form data from Wufoo and populate the results in a Google Sheet. This combination has saved me time because I only have to share a Google Sheet with the event organizers. No longer do I have to download a CSV once a week."

Try North Metro’s Wufoo workflow!

Organize Volunteers and Donors

Casey Trees is a nonprofit in Washington, DC focused on restoring, enhancing, and protecting the tree canopy of the nation's capital. Every year, they organize several tree planting events, tree care events, tree education, advocacy and appreciation events, as well as a "Canopy Awards" event on Arbor Day Eve.

With over 5,000 people volunteering or attending their events each year , Casey Tree has a lot of contacts to track! And as they quickly found out, there is no high-performing application that moves Eventbrite info into Salesforce. So they’re using Zapier to fill the void.

"We would often reconcile event data after an event through a manual data upload," says Casey Trees’ Data Manager/CRM Admin, Vince Drader. "Though this worked, it was not ideal. Employees had to look at Eventbrite for event specifics leading up to the event, and event information was not input into our CRM database until the Monday or Tuesday after the event."

"Now," he says, "Our Zaps allow us to see what contacts are attending what events, and allow us to start interacting with our volunteers and donors immediately and more efficiently. Our constituents appreciate the quick communication and specific content we can provide them, and we’re able to plan our programs more effectively."

Try Casey Trees' Eventbrite to Salesforce workflow!

Cut Out the Busywork

"Zaps are like hired developers for our organization. They save us tremendous time, since we have many apps we need to integrate with."Thrive Ministry

To charity staffers, we want to say a big thank you for dedicating your time and talent to making the world a better place. We also want to remind you to protect yourself from burnout. Just because you’re on a budget doesn’t mean you can’t outsource the work that drains your team resources.

Your human resources, whether staff or volunteers, are too precious to be wasted on busywork. If you find yourself doing a lot of menial tasks, ask yourself—"could a computer be doing this job?" A lot of times, the answer will be yes, and we’re here to help you transfer that busywork to an automated system.

To get you started, here are some ways several different NPOs have created workflows to get rid of busywork and refocus on their mission.

Before Action for Happiness, a small organization that helps people create happier lives and communities, started using Zapier, their process was "time-consuming, prone to errors, and took talented people's time up when they could have been doing more useful and value-adding things."

Now, they tell us, "Zapier is like having 5 extra team members doing all the tasks that we would otherwise have to do manually, like following up bookings, replying to emails, storing survey responses and adding people to mailing campaigns."

Scott Ballard, Technology Director of The Village Church, leads a team that serves all ministry teams across multiple locations with their technology, communications, facilities, finance, and HR needs. Their go-to apps are Formstack, Liquid Planner, Trello, and Slack.

"These Zaps have allowed us to use one form that captures various needs and automatically feeds those request into the various systems our teams use to manage tasks," Scott said. "The person submitting never has to worry about it getting to where it needs to go."

Mina Jones, General Manager at Piper Theatre Productions, uses a Gravity Forms to Google Sheets Zap for friction-free student registration. Before using these Zaps, she told us she would manually download Gravity form data and manually paste into Google Sheets.

"These Zaps have reduced manual entry ten-fold, ensuring accuracy, saving time, and enabling us to keep all our data relating to registration up-to-date."Piper Theatre Productions

As one of only two directors for a growing nonprofit that mentors teen boys, Nicky Wilks, Executive Director of Journeymen, was caught in a cycle of menial tasks, repetitious delegations, and the black hole of his inbox.

"As Executive Director, I don't want to spend all of my time pushing paper and doing admin tasks," Nicky told us. "My passion is and always will be working directly with youth. Zapier's tight and seamless integration of all of our core services allows me to trust that all of our pieces are moving in sync and offers me the time, space and life energy to show up in my most important role: a father and a mentor."

Emmett Harris is the Treasurer for the Free State Project, a nonprofit, educational organization that promotes liberty, free markets, and the state of New Hampshire. They use Zapier to automate thank-you replies to their donors, track details for independent contractor invoice submissions, and other tasks that help them add additional details to expenses and event ticket sales.

Spend Less Time on Your Marketing and More Time on Your Mission

"We would try to update our databases once a year, but that meant we were missing out on valuable contacts and the context of those contacts most of the year."Mixed Remixed Festival

Palm Beach Tech Association has the mission of uniting and building the innovation, entrepreneurial, and technology industries throughout Palm Beach County. One of the ways they do this is by offering a local career board to engage with the community.

This was a tedious process, with staff or volunteers manually updating Palm Beach Tech’s many social networks. Now, if someone submits a job to their career board, they automatically send an update over to their Palm Beach Tech Facebook Page, Facebook Group, Twitter, Slack, and LinkedIn Accounts, in addition to their director’s personal social media—all at once!.

"Social media was very hands on, all managed by staff, interns, and volunteers. Now we can do literally 8 things with one click, saving time and effort."Palm Beach Tech Association

Social media, and marketing in general, can easily become a huge time sink for NPOs who rely on volunteers (often untrained) to manage accounts. And while you won’t be able to hand all your marketing duties over to the robots, you can find the smart shortcuts that free your mind to focus on the content of your marketing.

Email Marketing

Cut out the middleman between your leads and your email marketing system. Import your leads instantly from your lead generation source, whether it's a form, a scheduling app, an event… you name it.

Facebook Lead Ads

Many advertisers find that Facebook Lead Ads offer the best cost per acquisition (CPA) in their advertising arsenal. However, since only a very few CRMs provide native integrations with Facebook Lead Ads, most advertisers have to manually download and import their leads before they become useable.

Luckily, there is another way. Zapier's Facebook Lead Ads integration allows you to automatically retrieve leads directly from Facebook Ad Manager and add them to your favorite CRM apps, email lists, and more.

Share New Content on Social Media

One of the best ways to impact your community and attract volunteers and donors is to share content that your followers will find interesting. Here's how you can automatically post more content and help grow your following (with less effort on your part):

Promote Upcoming Events

Whether you’re promoting community activities or your annual fundraising event, just create a new event in your calendar or a meeting app like Meetup or Eventbrite, and Zapier will take care of the rest by sharing your events on your social networks.

Monitor Your Brand Online

Interacting with your followers is an important way to build a community around your cause. But sifting through pages and pages of links to find legitimate brand mentions isn’t an option when you’re a small team. Tools like Mention, along with Zapier's social media integrations, can help monitor social networks for you automatically.

Changing "the way we’ve always done things" is never easy, but if the status quo is slowing down your team or burning out your staff, you know change is necessary. Hopefully these stories of organizations like yours have shown you that change also doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. It can actually save you time and money.

And from the whole Zapier team—thank you for all your hard work to better your community, society, and the world.

Learn More: the Best Free or Inexpensive Business Apps

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