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5 Tips for Onboarding New Donors

Cultivating new donors is only half the battle. Here are our recommendations for transitioning first-time donors into your most engaged supporters.


You could be leaving thousands of dollars (or more) on the table if you aren’t actively making an effort to connect with first-time donors. But with everything on your plate, you may not know where to begin. With this in mind, we recommend the following tips to start improving your new donor engagement strategy.


1. Segment

Now more than ever, it's important to think about sending the right message to the right audiences through the right channels. Funnel each new donor into a segment based on the information you gathered when they made their gift. Your future communications with this donor will be tailored to them and others like them. Automate as many steps of this process as possible so communications are going out in a timely fashion.

2. Acknowledge & Welcome

Your very first communication to new donors must be an authentic acknowledgment of their gift. While acknowledging a donor's gift is not new, try pairing it with a welcome email to your organization's inner circle that is tailored specifically to that donor's interests. Send it as close as possible to the time of the donation. This will make a critical first impression on your new donor and maximize their enthusiasm for supporting your organization.

3. Educate

Share original content, impact stories, blog posts, advocacy tips, and anything else related to your core mission through a series of email campaigns. Tell and show your donor how their gift is making a difference to your mission. Monitor email analytics to know which content is more engaging among each donor segment. This will inform future communications, too. Again, automation can be a huge time saver here.



Recurring donations are easy to set up on our Donation form for the Cleveland Zoological Society.

4. Engage

Give your new donors options to get more involved and provide value to your organization in ways other than financial support. Invite them to volunteer, serve on a committee, or share your social media posts with their personal networks. If you've provided ways for them to apply their unique talents to your mission, they'll feel like they are part of your organization and will be more inclined to donate financially again in the future.

5. Convert

It's finally time to ask your new donors to consider becoming a sustained giver. Whatever method you choose to make the ask, your website’s donation form must make it as easy as possible. Be sure to include options to give monthly, annually, or a frequency that makes sense for your organization, like the form that we created for the Cleveland Zoological Society. If you’ve given your donors a fantastic onboarding experience, this last step will be a breeze.

Contact us to learn how we can optimize your website for sustained giving.

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