Imagine you’re a donor who has a question to ask, feedback to share, or even a large gift to make.

You fire up your email and send a message to the fundraiser or someone you know at the organization, only to receive one of the automatic response types below:

  • My email address has changed from to Please resend your message and change this in your contact information so that I may receive your correspondence.
  • is no longer employed. Please email
  • I will be on vacation from Sept. 1st to Sept. 12th. I will reply to your message as soon as possible.
  • ##- Please type your reply above this line -## We’re working on your request (35076). We will be in touch soon. To add additional comments, reply to this email.

You’ve likely received an automatic email reply like one of the above from a for-profit, particularly before or after a transaction.

These emails are the equivalent of Ned Ryerson mocking you until the end of time.

Luckily, the solution is simple:

Set up email forwarding

No matter what service you use for email, whether it’s through your website hosting, GMail, whatever, you likely have the ability to set up email forwarding.

If you change your email address, forward the old email address to the new. Don’t make you donor jump through hoops because you made a change.

If an employee leaves, forward their emails to another employee. That employee can respond to any issues personally.

If you are going on vacation for an extended amount of time, consider forwarding your emails to another employee (if in a similar role) or at least give them the contact info for someone who can help them immediately.

If you are using a generic, role-based email address to collect inquires or make broad announcements, STOP! Humans give to humans, not robots. Give your email recipients the ability to reply to another human immediately.

In his book Retention Fundraising, Roger Craver found that the #4 reason why donors stay loyal is that they “receive opportunities to make his or her views known.”

If you are not giving them this ability, their loyalty may diminish or never even get established.

There are far too many robots involved in fundraising, from role-based email addresses to automated receipts that make donors feel like an ATM rather than a partner in your cause.

Don’t make things worse.

The Art & Science of Digital Donor Retention

Steven Shattuck

Steven Shattuck

Chief Engagement Officer at Bloomerang
Steven Shattuck is Chief Engagement Officer at Bloomerang. 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, is an AFP Center for Fundraising Innovation (CFI) committee member, and sits on the faculty of the Institute for Charitable Giving. He is the author of Robots Make Bad Fundraisers - How Nonprofits Can Maintain the Heart in the Digital Age, published by Bold and Bright Media.