Skip to Content

Donor Engagement with Pardot: Part 1 – The Welcome Email

By March 2, 2018’s report on the State of The Connected Nonprofit found that 90% of donors felt it important to know exactly where their money is going and revealed that donors would donate 67% more funds annually if they received personalised communications from the nonprofits they donate to.

In this 3 part blog series I’ll be walking you through some essential Pardot programs to increase donor engagement, provide more personalised communications to donors and ultimately boost your fundraising performance. In this first blog I’ll be showing you how to build and automate a segmented welcome journey to build a strong first engagement with new donors.

Making your welcome personal

So you’ve worked really hard to secure that donation but now you want to convert your donor into a recurring donor! Your welcome/thank you email is a really important first touch and opens the lines of engagement. If you’re planning on tailoring content for specific donors this is a great place to start – maybe your donor specified a particular program that they want their donation to go towards – e.g. Rhino Conservation in Sub-Saharan Africa or Education Programs in Nepal. If they did specify, you can use this thank you/welcome email to inform them more about that particular program, and you can also use it as a platform to educate them on how to get more involved.

Tailoring messages for individual donors without a marketing automation tool can be tough on your team’s time. Let me show you how to use Pardot to do the heavy lifting so your team can focus on strategy, creative and process!

Automating your donor welcome email in 5 easy steps

Note: we refer to all contacts in Pardot as prospects

1. Setting up segmentation lists

First things first, you want to create a fresh segmentation list that new prospects can get added to. Segmentation lists are basically buckets where prospects get added to. You use forms, rules, completion actions, or imports to add prospects to these lists.

I would suggest calling your new list something like ‘New Donor Welcome’. Or if you’re tailoring your welcome messages and have separate Pardot forms for each cause you collect for, you can tailor this welcome journey by creating additional lists for the specific programs, e.g. ‘New Donor Welcome – Rhino Conservation’ or ‘New Donor Welcome – Education Nepal’. If you don’t distinguish between program donations, skip step 2.


2. Adding a completion action on your forms

Completion actions allow you to do many things like adding prospects to a Salesforce campaign or adding to lists like in this example. When building your form, the last stage allows you to add this completion action. When doing this, depending on what the campaign is around – select either: ‘New Donor Welcome – Rhino Conservation’ or ‘New Donor Welcome – Education Nepal’. Later, you’ll be using these lists to run your automations.

3. Creating an email template

Next, use the drag and drop email builder or add your own custom html email and publish to a Pardot template. You can make a tailored version of this for each of your programs and a generic email for other new donors that don’t fall into Rhino Conservation or Education Nepal campaigns. Learn more about emails here.

4. Setting your automation rules

OK, now to make sure we’re just targeting “New Donors”. Pardot’s automation rules allow you to be really specific around who gets sent what and when they get sent it. It’s a really handy time-saving feature for emails and campaigns/nurture programs. For your new donor welcome, you want to filter prospects that are newly created in Pardot.

Consider the following automation rules (these will be unique to each organisation)
  • Prospect was created –  less than – 1 day(s) ago
  • Prospect email status – isn’t – Do Not Email
  • Prospect’s email status – isn’t – Opted Out

Then set the action:

  • Add to list ‘New Donor Welcome”

5. Setting up an Engagement Studio Program

Engagement studio programs are a great way to automate the sending of emails over a period of time with wait time intervals. We’ve chosen to use engagement studio as it allows you to add additional emails to your donor journey, and gives you the ability to keep all your tailored journeys in one place!

Let’s take a look what instructions you might outline:

  • Use list – ‘New Donor Welcome’
  • Prospect list  – is –  ‘New Donor Welcome – Education Nepal’
    • Yes?
    • Select send email and select your Education Nepal Template
  • No?
  • Prospect list  – is –  ‘New Donor Welcome – Rhino Conservation’
    • Yes?
    • Select send email and select your Rhino Conservation Template
  • No?
  • Select send email and select your Generic Welcome Template
  • Remove from list ‘New Donor Welcome’

Please note: This is also possible with drip programs.

And don’t forget to test!

This might be the most important part! Pardot has great email report functionality showing you opens, clicks and opt-out rate so you know whether your welcome emails are resonating with your donors. Click reports also show you what CTAs in your email are performing well so this could guide your welcome email evolution.

So there we have it, an automated welcome email for new donors, or anyone really, depending on the use case! The next post in the series will look at newsletter best practices – keep an eye out for it 🙂

Interested in learning more about how marketing automation can help increase donor engagement? 


watch webinar