Why a valid email address is crucial for donor communication
Our inboxes are always full and often there are ‘from’ email addresses that we don’t recognize. Is your nonprofit one of them?
Too often a ‘do not reply’ email address is used for auto-generated receipts, email confirmations and e-mail notices. Doing so can hurt your credibility as an organization and discourages donors from engaging with you or asking questions.
In fact, many email providers will mark ‘no-reply’ email addresses as spam which can cause donor receipts and other communications to end up in spam folders instead of inboxes. Likewise, it’s difficult to add these ‘no-reply’ email addresses to white list or ‘safe’ lists so that donors ensure they’re receiving notifications and receipts. This could cause problems come tax time or in general if they assume that because they’re not getting your emails you’ve stopped communicating with them.
The #1 rule of an email donation receipt is to start with a valid ‘from’ email address. If you are a current 4aGoodCause platform user, you can configure the email address your online donation receipts come from. This ensures you receive replies that come from these receipts and likewise, receive any notifications about bounces or invalid email addresses (in which case you can then reach out to the donor(s) another way and ensure your donor database is also updated).
Additional tips when sending donor email receipts and confirmations:
Use an email address from your organization’s domain.
Stay away from gmail.com, yahoo.com, etc. Using an email address that it outside of your organization’s website domain lessens your credibility and can make you appear unprofessional.
Use an email address from a real person.
Instead of using email addresses such as firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com set up those automatic emails to come from a live person within your organization. Want to make your donors feel special? Send those emails from your president or executive director’s email. If that’s not possible, use an email string that you can set up to forward to a real person so that there is still someone behind the scenes monitoring the account.
Make your donors feel included and appreciated by encouraging them to reply to the email if they have questions. This shows them that you care, that someone is monitoring communication and that they can come to you with suggestions, questions or other needs. Ask for feedback and reply quickly; ensure you have a system for who will answer the emails and a rule-of-thumb for how quickly those emails should be answered.
Use autoresponders or filters.
If you are short on time and resources, you can still use a valid email address which then sends out automatic replies that either provide an update on when a donor can expect a valid reply OR that directs them to an FAQs page on your website. You can also set up filters if you have multiple members of your organization charged with monitoring the same inbox to ensure you’re not doing double-duty or answering the same message twice. Filters can also help with automated responses you may receive from those who are out of the office.
In addition to providing your donors with a valid way to communicate with you, it’s important to ensure your thank you emails and donor receipts have all of the information they may be looking for. Check out these examples for inspiration:
- 7 tips to acknowledge your donors
- Anatomy of a great email thank you
- 7 creative ways to thank your donors
- 8 elements every online donation email receipt needs
The bottom line: Using a valid email address any time you communicate with donors ensures that they feel heard and always have the ability to reach out to you, no matter their question or needs. Continue to offer two-way communication with your donors by showing them that your emails always come from a real person on staff. It continues to put the human in your brand.