Expert Tips: How and when to engage with first-time donors

As the year wraps up, nonprofits need to switch gears to think about how to engage their new donors, and recurring ones, into next year to create the optimal donor experience. Hear from one of our nonprofit industry experts, Nancy Schwartz as she shares a best-practice timeline of how and when to interact with first-time donors to ensure they stay engaged.

Receiving an online gift: Show your gratitude.

Share your appreciation via a follow-up page as soon as your first-time donor finishes the transaction.

Same day: Get all donor and gift data into your donor management system.

Many data points, from the time of day the gift was made to your donor’s zip code, can help you customize upcoming donor communications and increase the probability of future gifts. Don’t delay in inputting that data into your system.

Within one day: Thank your donor in a brief, but compelling, email.

Use your donor management system to automate this initial email after the first-time gift. Mention the campaign or specific project your donor is supporting. Include a receipt (online gifts should get an auto-generated receipt the same day the gift was made). Send it from your executive director or star program staffer (if that staffer is well known).

Within four to seven days: Reinforce your thanks with a warm, heartfelt follow-up email or letter.

Reiterate your appreciation for this first-time gift. Welcome your new donor to the cause. Share a specific impact story—photo or video op! — that donations made possible to show the importance of the donor’s gift. This person gave to your organization because they found something you said appealing, so reinforce that!

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