Donors who give online are a special class of people. By definition, you know that they are savvy and comfortable with technology; appreciate the immediacy and convenience of making that donation happen right now (while it’s on their minds); and feel trust in your organization and its systems. Perhaps they also appreciate how an online gift reduces the hassle factor—both for you and for them.
Your response needs to take these factors into account.
Respond quickly—within the hour you might even catch them during the same online session! (Imagine how impressive and gratifying that would be!)
Use technology to respond—not merely return email. As with any donor, personalize that response in some way. Don’t send the equivalent of the fill-in-the-blanks form letter/tax receipt (generated by a robot). Call them by name, make a comment, refer to what triggered their gift if you know (“So glad to meet you at the gala on Thursday.”)
Use technology to add value to your response. Show “thermometer” graph of the progress of your campaign, tell a fresh client story, attach a short video of a client expressing thanks, photo/photo montage of happy consumers, a relevant cartoon, or a pithy quotation in clever graphic form. You can easily put together a small library to have on hand for this (and other) uses.
Acknowledging a gift promptly is always good form. Use what you know about online donors to customize your online response to hit their hot buttons!