As a fundraising professional, you never have enough hours in the day. Connecting with your donors, especially immediately after their first gift, is vital to keep them engaged. However too often this task is handled inconsistently or rushed, risking insincerity. Sometimes it doesn’t happen at all, leading donors to feel undervalued and eventually to fade away.

Sound familiar? Fortunately, there is a solution that, while taking some time to set up, requires minimal effort to maintain once operational. It’s called an email automation series – a collection of emails automatically sent at predefined intervals.

Benefits of Email Automation

Email automation can dramatically streamline your communication process, allowing you to save time while engaging more effectively with donors. Once set up, this system sends out communications on your behalf at optimal times, ensuring consistent contact without further input from you. This consistency helps keep your donors engaged, reminding them of their importance to your organisation and the impact of their contributions. Regular updates about your work can motivate them to donate more frequently, converting one-time donors into recurring supporters.

Common Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them

Setting up email automation is straightforward, but there are a few common pitfalls:

  1. Overgeneralising Content: While it’s efficient to use the same messages for everyone, overly generic emails may seem impersonal. To avoid this, utilise dynamic content that personalises messages based on the donor’s previous interactions and interests.
  2. Neglecting Testing: Before full implementation, test your email series on different devices and email clients to ensure all formatting is correct, links are working, and there are no unexpected errors in the automation logic.
  3. Ignoring Compliance: Always provide an easy option for recipients to unsubscribe to comply with anti-spam laws and respect donor preferences. Failing to do so can damage trust and your organisation’s reputation.

There are numerous ways to set up an automated email series. If your CRM has this functionality built-in, that’s likely your best option. Otherwise most EDM systems, such as MailChimp, allow you to set up automations based on custom triggers like joining your mailing list or specific tags.

Need help connecting your website to your EDM system, or setting up automations? We’re here to help.

Creating Effective Donor Outreach Emails

Details will vary between organisations, but generally, start by thanking the donor for their gift 2-3 days later. Then, send 3-4 more emails, spaced a few days apart, introducing your organisation, the work you do, and the impact of their gift. These should encourage them to consider regular donations.

If you have already been sending these sorts of emails to donors manually, that should give you a really good starting point.

No matter what system you are using to send the emails, you’ll need to make use of merge tags or placeholders to personalise the content – including the recipient’s name in the body of the email is an absolute minimum. The purpose of this is to connect with your donors and show them that you value their support – so you don’t want it to be obvious that it’s an automated email. It needs to feel personal.

How do you engage with your new donors?

1 comment

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