Online Giving – Updating Your Method and Message–Part 2

Confirming and Recognizing the Donor and Online Gift

After a donor has made a gift online, a number of thank you processes kick in automatically. Just cause it’s automatic doesn’t make it good or appropriate!

You have the ability to control and manage the message a donor receives.  Perhaps you set these up when you arrived or your predecessor set it up. Unfortunately, in many cases these communications are templates provided by the online donation service you are using. 

Take the time to manage and update these messages regularly. It will start your donor stewardship in the right direction.


Online donors usually receive two immediate responses for their gift.  The first is a confirmation of the gift. This is your opportunity to make a great first impression to a donor. How did you respond and what message did you send when they made their gift?

Be sure to reiterate your thanks (duh!) but add more about what a difference their gift will make.  Update this information monthly to reflect changes or updates for your organization. Remember, think about it as a virtual conversation.

 Post Donation Landing Page

After the confirmation, they are sent to another web page of your choice. You can decide where that may be. The page usually says “Close window” or “Next” etc.  You can decide where the donor goes from there. You can set up a separate page on your site for online donors or take them to a program or information page you have already.

This page can include:

  • A thank you – never miss an opportunity to say thank you!
  • Let the donor know they will receive an email and mail thank you, both can be used for tax purposes
  • Social media information inviting the donor to follow your blog, Tweets, Facebook page, cause or fan page
  • Call to action – to volunteer, engage others

Auto-Reply Email

Most programs include an automatic thank you email they send to the donor after their donation has been received. You can and should manage this message. Again, an opportunity to connect with a donor and start your stewardship.  How can you make yours stand out and engage the donor?

Every month you can update the thank you and message about what your organization is doing.

Since these donors are “online” be sure to include social media invitations and information on this thank you letter. Include links if you can and a call to action.  You can:

  • Ask them to invite friends to join them in their support
  • Join your Facebook fan page
  • Follow your blog or Tweets
  • Subscribe to your e-newsletter
  • Remember, these donors are already online and using the social media or engaging them via the web will be comfortable for them.
  • If you can include a link to a survey or opportunity to ask them their interests and preferences, this will tell you more about them and engage the donor.
  • Tax information

Old School – Hard copy thank you letter

Contrary to popular belief, this thank you method has NOT been replaced by virtual thank yous! Hard copy thank yous should be mailed within 48 hours of receiving the gift. (See blog post on Thanking Donors! ) This is especially true of online donations. They have already received an instant email thank you. Remember you are still cultivating this donor.  The letter thank you is another opportunity to make a good impression. Don’t wait a long time to send the letter just because they already received an email thank you note. Donors are paying attention!

The hard copy thank you is an opportunity to share more/different information, not necessarily the same information, you already sent.  Think about how you want to engage this donor. The letter can include:

  • Your thanks, again (double duh!)
  • Update on the current and future work/events/happenings
  • Invitation to something if it is within 60 days or a save the date for something farther out
  • Attach a fact sheet about your organization
  • Information about volunteering
  • A client story
  • Photo collage
  • Tax information

Special Touches

Some organizations ask their clients to prepare thank you cards or notes. This is a great way to bring the mission to the donor. You can print the tax information on the back of the card before the client starts writing or drawing and/or include it on an insert with required tax information.

How are you engaging online donors after they make their gift? Start your stewardship off right!

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