Donor Retention 101: Master Donor Email Marketing

So someone just donated to your cause, that’s great! But now what? Email marketing is a great way to meet donors where they’re at and keep them connected. Once someone donates, you have to communicate with them quickly, and often times the quickest thing you can do is send an email.

Email marketing is a critical tool in maintaining a good relationship with your donors. It’s not the only thing you need to have in place, but it’s a must-have as a point of contact. You likely have something set up already (if you don’t, start today), but we’re here to help you master the art of donor communication emails after someone’s first donation.

Your first touch.

First, send an email letting them know you received their donation and how much you appreciate their involvement. In this email, you’ll want to keep it personal and include their name, the amount they donated (it’s a good confirmation practice) and a couple sentences showing how much their donation impacted your organization’s pursuit of the mission.

Most fundraising software will have an automated option that checks all of those boxes, and will allow you to include everything listed above. The problem with automated emails is that you can usually tell when they’re automated, so if you go this route for the first email post-donation, make sure the verbiage conversational and not robotic. Consider a second follow-up email, handcrafted from someone on staff—details below. Another option would be to make a phone call or write a handwritten letter instead, but we’re just covering email communication in this post. 

Give them a receipt. 

Next, send out a donation receipt. This can be attached to your first email if you prefer but works just fine as a standalone email. If your first email was automated and didn’t include a receipt, consider having someone on staff personally send this one with the receipt attached. Don’t wait too long since you both need this—the receipt will summarize all of the pertinent information for their financial records and income tax purposes.

Pro tip: make sure all of your emails are in line with your organization’s style, fonts, graphics, etc. You want all of your communications to be cohesive and professional.

Get engaged. 

Now it’s time to get them engaged. Give donors a quick-hitting list of ways they can get involved with your organization and your cause. We’ve found that 4-6 days after the initial donation is a good jumping off point to get started, but try out some timelines of your own and see what works for you.

It’s important that you take the time to make this piece engaging and compelling. It might seem obvious, but if they’ve donated once, and you do a good job of engaging them, they’re more likely to donate again or get engaged in other ways. This email might just be the nudge a donor needed to volunteer, donate again or apply for a position on your board—among other ways to get involved.

Keep donors in the loop. 

From here, you’re essentially creating a donor e-newsletter. This will be the first time they have the opportunity to either keep getting your emails or opt out. These emails will give those who choose to continue getting your emails updates on how the organization is doing as a whole and where donors’ funds are going.

These updates will show periodic updates on how donor contributions got you closer to achieving your mission. You can do this through infographics, storytelling and general updates. Keep these emails hitting inboxes on a regular schedule; we recommend either on a monthly or quarterly basis. It will keep your team accountable for tracking success and failures and help donors expect when they’ll hear from you.

Donor newsletters are about the donor and the impact they helped create, not necessarily about you or your organization. Share personal anecdotes that show how important their role is to the success of fighting for the cause at hand.

Email marketing can be confusing, but when it comes to donation follow-up emails, keep it personal. Ultimately the first (and potential second) email post-donation is the most personalized. From there, send updates to keep donors engaged over time. The better your communication is with the donor (even beyond just email marketing), the better the chances of another donation again or further involvement.

email marketing

Sydny Boyd

Sydny is a senior studying sports journalism and broadcasting with minors in English and theatre. She works on the Hubcast, Hubbub, web and magazine content and social media. She’s excited to be working at Nonprofit Hub, where she’ll be able to help nonprofits of all shapes and sizes. Sydny's addicted to fruit snacks and binge watching shows on Hulu and Netflix. Yes, she has both.

July 21, 2017

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