3 Things Your Nonprofit Must Do Well After An Online Donation

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An online donation is magical, especially from a new donor that you don’t yet know. How you communicate after the donation may be the first interactions you have with the donor, and it’s absolutely critical that you make a positive first impression.

Here are the three things your nonprofit must do exceptionally well after a donor completes their online donation:

1. Confirmation Page

The confirmation page is the page that a donor is directed to after completing the form on your donation page. The mechanics of this can vary based on your individual website. For example, your donation form may simply disappear and be replaced by a confirmation message, or the user may be redirected to an entirely new page.

Either way, your confirmation page should do three things:

  • communicate that the donation was processed successfully
  • thank the donor
  • keep them on your website

The first point is all about trust. When someone makes an online transaction (whether it’s a purchase or a donation) they want to know that they just gave their credit card to a real, trustworthy entity. If after making a donation, the page or form simply disappears or redirects to another page, the donor might think that their donation failed or, worse, their payment information was taken advantage of. You don’t want the donor to be constantly refreshing their inbox hoping for a confirmation email to arrive.

Make sure the confirmation page immediately communicates that the donation was successful. It goes without saying that you should also say thank you here.

Lastly, do what you can to ensure that the donor doesn’t leave or close out of your website after viewing the confirmation page. Often this happens because of a third-party payment processor that navigates the donor away from the nonprofit’s website in order to make a donation. Ideally, the donation form is embedded on a page that has the same navigation and links that the rest of the site has.

Don’t just say “thanks” and leave them hanging! Additional conversions are always good.

2. Email Receipt / Confirmation

The email you send to an online donor represents your first true donor communications test. Will you pass or fail?

Your email receipt should do three things:

  • arrive immediately
  • thank the donor (make them feel super special)
  • give them something to do next

An immediate arrival of the receipt will add to the trust factor of your confirmation page that the transaction completed successfully.

The content of that receipt is often overlooked. Go the extra mile and craft the confirmation in a way that truly delights the donor and makes them feel involved in the mission. The thank you should be personal, heartfelt and communicate the impact of the gift and the difference that the donor makes. You can also encourage another interaction on the part of the donor.

A few ideas for additional actions are:

  • follow on social media
  • survey or solicit feedback
  • visit a webpage (learn about volunteer opportunities, see upcoming events, read a recent blog post, etc.)

There’s no reason why the email receipt can’t keep the donor engaged and begin the process of stewarding the next gift. You can see examples of receipts that do all of these things here and here.

3. Formal Acknowledgement

Your formal acknowledgement should:

  • arrive within 48 hours
  • have a personal touch (handwritten note!)
  • be donor-centered (more “you” than “we” or “I”)
  • not ask for a second gift (avoid the “thask”)
  • be or include a follow-up phone call

Fast is always best for a gift acknowledgement, no matter what the format. If you’re sending snail mail, you want it to hit their mailbox within two days. Be sure to make it about them, not you. Do not include a BRE in a thank you letter. The Agitator has reported that a three-minute thank-you call will boost first-year retention by 30%. So if an online donor gives you their phone number, call them!

All of these things are absolutely critical for a first-time donor, nearly 3/4ths of whom lapse.

If you want to retain online donors, the first few seconds after the donation are the most important – no pressure!

For more tips on how to maximize and acknowledge online donations, download our free eBook The Art & Science of Digital Donor Retention here>>

How do you approach your email receipts and other follow-up touches with online donors? Let me know in the comments below!

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The Art & Science of Digital Donor Retention

Steven Shattuck

Steven Shattuck

Chief Engagement Officer at Bloomerang
Steven Shattuck is Chief Engagement Officer at Bloomerang and Executive Director of Launch Cause. A prolific writer and speaker, Steven is a contributor to "Fundraising Principles and Practice: Second Edition" and volunteers his time on the Project Work Group of the Fundraising Effectiveness Project and is an AFP Center for Fundraising Innovation (CFI) committee member.
Steven Shattuck
By | 2017-06-10T19:04:53+00:00 March 4th, 2015|Donor Communications|

2 Comments

  1. Mike Smith March 5, 2015 at 8:38 am - Reply

    There should be a confirmation letter sent back to the donor that reflex the donation and that they are a 501 C 3 for tax purposes right away.

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