All Aboard! Five Tips for Onboarding New Supporters

Over the past few years, we’ve worked with hundreds of nonprofits here at big, small, national, local, brand-new, a hundred years old. You name it, we’ve seen it. So what’s our number one tip for any organization looking to connect with new supporters? A well-designed, thoroughly tested, and delightfully executed welcome series.

That’s right - just a handful of emails can make or break your chances at turning new supporters into advocates, donors, or both. It’s pretty intuitive when you think about it, yet we often work with organizations who have yet to set up a welcome series.

Here are five tips to get those critical first impression emails up and running and keep them optimized for your audience.

Tip 1: Make sure your welcome series exists

In theory, welcome series are great; in practice, many organizations haven’t yet gotten around to setting them up. The most important thing you can do to ensure long-term success with a new person on your list is to welcome them. Not only does it show good manners (your mother will be proud!), but it also sets expectations for your communication going forward. And that means fewer unsubscribes from people who didn’t realize you were going to be emailing them.

Tip 2: Find the right number

We often recommend that our clients include at least 2-3 emails in their welcome series, but that number may vary for your organization. Ideally, you’ll keep new people out of your regular email stream for the duration of their welcome series, and then add them once they’ve received their final welcome email. The best way to figure out the right number for your list is to test, test, and test some more to see what kind of response each different email gets.

Tip 3: Connect the dots

People have short attention spans, and sometimes they don’t remember signing up for your list. At the very beginning of your very first welcome email, thank your new supporter for joining, and remind them where they found you. It might have been through a petition, an advocacy campaign on your site, a Facebook ad, or a dozen other ways. But make some reference to that introduction point to ensure that your supporters make the connection about why you’re emailing them.

Tip 4: Give them something to do

The best way to keep new supporters engaged is to have really engaging content. New additions to your list are some of the people most interested in your work, and they want to know more about what you do. Include one action in each email (multiple actions can lead to a lower click-through rate, when people can’t decide which link to click), and make that action meaningful. Here’s what an engaging welcome series might look like:

  • Email 1: Thanks for joining, find us on social media
  • Email 2: Watch a video about the organization and share it with their friends
  • Email 3: Donation ask, or if you’re purely advocacy-focused, another petition for them to sign

Tip 5: Timing is of the essence

Remember how your parents made you write thank you cards right after your birthday party? Well, turns out they were on to something. The sooner you can send that first welcome email, the better chances you’ll have of cultivating that relationship. Remember, these are all people who have shown an interest in your organization, so start things off on the right foot and get that relationship going as soon as you can!

Feeling inspired to get your welcome series off the ground? Or maybe you’ve already found the perfect combination of actions and timing to convert your new supporters? Either way, we want to hear your favorite welcome series tip! Share it with us at @ChangeOrgs.


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