Donor Relationships at Scale

Chicanos Por La Causa: How Virtuous Automation Helped a Team-of-One Cultivate 1000 Donors Personally

Chicanos Por La Causa

As a team-of-one managing relationships with a file of 1,000 active donors, Veronica Carrillo really can’t waste time on back-office tasks, clunky software, or waiting for customer service to call her back. She needs to create personalized donor experiences, engage her community in generosity, and raise funds so her organization can pursue its mission. With Virtuous, she can.

Veronica is the Donor Relations Manager at Chicanos Por La Causa (CPLC) in Phoenix, Arizona. CPLC believes that all people, without discrimination, should have the power to live a life of dignity. Their programs work to help individuals and families achieve self-sufficiency by providing accessible healthcare, affordable housing, a quality education, access to meaningful work, and political representation.

Before switching to Virtuous, it was impossible to create personalized engagement for every donor. Now, at the start of her third year as a Virtuous customer, things have changed. Veronica creates meaningful donor journeys and gives each donor a personal experience with CPLC, while increasing the effectiveness and impact of her one-person fundraising power.

Veronica’s results aren’t unique; on average, Virtuous customers reduce their administrative time by 20%.

Chicanos Por La Causa uses Virtuous to grow fundraising

Customer Since


Challenges to Solve

Outdated Software

“Our old software, in terms of the user interface, was a little outdated and not very intuitive. There were some basic processes that are commonplace in newer software products that just hadn’t made their way to eTapestry,” Veronica says.

The software’s outdatedness didn’t just make it awkward to use, it made it hard to grow fundraising. “Everything from the donation forms not being very user-friendly to really no marketing automation functionality made it hard to stay on top of people’s minds and people’s inboxes,” she says.

Veronica knew that she needed to make things easy for donors and streamline the donation process, but with her old software, she couldn’t.

Poor Support

When all your fundraising data is in your nonprofit CRM, you need help fast when something goes wrong. You really can’t wait days to fix problems when they arise. But Veronica found getting customer support on her old platform was nearly impossible. Even when she was ready to upgrade, money in hand, finding a real person to talk to was difficult. Her calls weren’t returned and her questions weren’t answered.

Hard to Build Donor Relationships

Without marketing automation, it’s impossible for one person to create personalized donor relationships at scale with every donor, let alone also manage major donor relationships. “You can’t do anything well, you have to do everything half way. It’s constantly frustrating,” says Veronica.

In order to build a strong major donor pipeline, Veronica knew she needed to continue to engage the masses. “You have to stay connected with everybody, so you can work to identify who prospective major donors might be,” she says. “Without automation that was pretty difficult to do.”

CPLC’s Challenges

  • Outdated Donor Management Software
  • No Automation Functionality
  • Poor Customer Support

How Virtuous Helped

“Because we can be responsive with Virtuous, donors feel like there’s transparency, there’s an individual that they know at the organization. People feel like they have someone they can reach out to.”

-Veronica Carrillo, Donor Relations Manager, CPLC


Virtuous Automation makes communication streams easy.

“The marketing automation was the number one selling point for us,” says Veronica “To be able to have responsive email streams that respond to people’s actions and their interests, and automate that to give everyone the impression that we have a one-on-one relationship, that’s really been a game changer.”

Veronica uses automation to exponentially increase the impact of her “team-of-one.” She can now welcome new donors and new email subscribers instantly with automatic email series, while tracking their engagement and interests. She’s working to create program-specific communication streams, to give donors even more of the most relevant stories and information.

Once she’s created these donor journeys, they’re ready to go, leaving her free to do other things. “Automation allows me to focus our very limited resources on developing those face-to-face relationships with major donors and not spend all my time behind a computer screen,” Veronica says.

A Supportive Partner

“The first thing we noticed with Virtuous was the customer service,” Veronica says. “We were able to get a person to answer questions right away, which was a big change that was very nice to see.”

Having a data migration specialist consistently available through the process and going through Virtuous’ one-on-one trainings made a big difference, too. Instead of trying to manage alone or waiting indefinitely for someone to get in touch when she had an issue, she had partners available to answer her questions, who knew her and her organization and were invested in her success.

As she explored Virtuous, Veronica also liked how much help she didn’t need. She found much of its functionality so intuitive that she could quickly figure out how to do things without additional training.

Better Donor Relationships

Virtuous is a responsive nonprofit CRM, and Veronica has used it to make Chicanos Por La Causa a responsive organization, too.

“I think in the past we used to ‘talk at’ our list,” she says. “We’d push out a communication to everybody, whether or not they were interested in it, or if they indicated they were interested in it. I think we’re doing a better job now of segmenting which individuals actually want to receive those communications.”

She uses tags to segment donors to make sure that the communications they receive are relevant. She’s currently working to target communications even more specifically, including by programs that donors have expressed interest in.

All of this relevancy has translated into greater donor engagement. Veronica encourages her donors to respond to communications, making it clear that they can have a conversation and a dialogue.

“People respond,” she says. “They’ll say, ‘Hey, thanks for sharing, this was cool to hear about.’ In the past that didn’t ever really happen. When I respond to those people, a lot of them seem pleasantly surprised that there’s someone on the other end listening and hearing their questions and responding to them. People ask questions, forward messages to their friends, that’s been pretty cool to see.”

“We’ve been really happy with what Virtuous provides, especially at the price point that Virtuous provides it at. I’ve personally recommended the software to other organizations I know that are looking to offload a little bit of the manual work their teams are doing right now. It’s been a great experience.”

-Veronica Carrillo, Donor Relations Manager, CPLC

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