Your Guide to Nonprofit Welcome Emails – Synico Solutions

Your Guide to Nonprofit Welcome Emails

Kendra Circle Email
Micaylah Rose
Posted on March 13, 2020

Getting new donors for your nonprofit is hard work. You have to be in many places at once, reaching the heart of a variety of people.

  • Some are first-time donors.
  • Some are attendees at a sponsored event.
  • Some are third-party donors giving to a friend or family member’s personal fund-raising efforts.

Studies have shown that only about 27% of new donors actually stick around for the future.

SO the question is…

How do you keep them involved with your organization?

We must change this percentage!

One of the best things you can do to “keep new donors in the fold”, is to launch a welcome email series that 1) thanks them for getting on board, 2) helps them get to know your organization better and 3) affirms the value of the work you do.

This guide will help you understand how to care for the three types of donors.  It discusses the purpose of a welcome email series and the “how to’s” of designing targeted communication strategies to best reach and nurture your donors.

First-Time Donors

These donors were interested enough in your organization and its mission to make a direct gift; however, they may not yet feel very committed. Before adding them to your regular communication cycle, it’s important that you make a proper introduction. You should highlight the value of your organization and work it does. AND, you need to gently nurture them into deepening their involvement.

Tips for Creating First-Time Donor Welcome Emails:

  1. Inform them about your cause and inspire them to adopt your mission as their own.
    Share important facts and details about your organization and how it’s making an impact. Make sure to use lots of visual content such as photos and videos. These are easily understood and create an instant connection.
  2. Include a call to action at the end of each email.
    Each email should give your donor a next step to take. Make softer asks at the end, such as a request to follow you on social media, watch a video, or read a short report/article.
  3. Keep each message short and sweet.
    While it is important to educate new donors about your organization, don’t dump tons of information on them. They don’t want extensive letters in their inbox, especially from someone they’re just getting to know. However, you can provide links to blog posts or other content to provide more information.
  4. Timing and Frequency
    Start out with just one email per week. You don’t want to spam your new donors, but you do want to make sure you’re “on their radar”. Within a month or so of making their first gift, you’ll graduate them from welcome emails to your regular communication cycle.

Here’s an example of what this First-Time Donor series could look like:

  • 1st message: Say Thank You.
    Express your genuine appreciation for their gift and how it will make a difference.
  • 2nd message: Show readers how your organization is making progress on its mission.
    Keep your copy short and simple. Include high-quality images to keep your readers engaged and include a call to action (e.g. check out a photoblog, watch a filmed testimonial from someone who has benefited from our work, etc.).
    Display social media share buttons and invite them to follow you.
  • 3rd message: Inspire donors to take further action.
    Provide examples of how supporters have a direct hand in your nonprofit’s results (e.g. before and after images of your impact, how one person’s life has changed, demonstrate the impact of a single gift, etc.).
    Ask them to subscribe to your blog and/or newsletter or to join an upcoming event. You could ask them to volunteer or start a fund-raising page.
    Again, make sure to display social media buttons.

Third-Party Donors

Peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns tend to bring in a lot of first-time donors. These kinds of campaigns give you access to your supporter’s networks, providing the opportunity for supporters to ask their friends and family members for donations. Many will eventually make gifts to your organization because of a personal connection to the individual asking for a gift.

HOWEVER, there is a challenge. These donors usually give to support their friends and family, not because they were interested in your mission. Therefore, you can’t treat them the same as first-time donors who responded to your direct appeals.

Tips for Creating Third-Party Donor Welcome Emails:
The goal of an email series with third-party donors should be to slowly build trust and rapport with them while they begin to understand the unique value of your organization.

  1. Wait until the fund-raising campaign is over to send your first message.
    Thank the donor for giving to your organization and refer to the fundraiser he or she donated to. This reminds them that someone they trust is already confident in your organization.
  2. Offer information and resources on your organization’s cause.
    Provide links to blog posts, videos, infographics, reports, testimonials of people who have benefited from your organization’s work, etc.
  3. Gradually weave in “soft asks”.
    Don’t push too much. Simply nudge them gently to take a small step such as following you on social media, sharing a blog post with friends, or sharing a video on their social profile.
  4. Brand your emails consistently.
    In order to become recognizable, remembered, and prove your value, make sure your logo, graphics, colors, fonts, voice, and message are included in every email.
  5. Don’t send another donation appeal until you’ve gotten several positive responses.

Consider adding them to your newsletter cycle ONLY after you have built initial rapport and trust. Wait for responses such as following your Facebook page, regularly opening and clicking through your emails, signing up for your newsletter, etc.

Here’s an example of what this Third-Party Donor series could look like:

  • 1st message: Personalized Thanks for the gift.
    Refer to the fundraiser the person donated to and offer valuable information to help them learn more about your organization.
  • 2nd message: Show donors the impact of their gift.
    Connect the dollar amount of their gift to a tangible outcome or translate the campaign’s total results into its concrete results. This can be done most effectively through photos and other visuals showing the impact their gift is having.
    Include a “soft ask” such as reading a blog post, watching a short video, or checking out a picture gallery.
  • 3rd message: Educate them about your organization.
    Provide descriptions and/or updates about your most recent activities and initiatives.
    Include a “soft ask” such as following you on social media sites, sharing an impact report, sharing testimonials of people how have benefited from your work, etc.
  • 4th message: Thank them for being part of your online community.
    Mention the impact their gift has had and mention anything new that your organization is doing.
    Let them know you’ll be sharing a monthly newsletter with them and, based on how their engagement, consider asking them to take another step, such as signing up for your blog, join you at a special event, or volunteering.

Event Attendees
These are the people who have first interacted with your nonprofit by attending one of your fundraising events. You’ll want to send them a series of emails to solidify and deepen their relationship with your organization after the event is over. The goal is to retain these donors.

Tips for Creating Third-Party Donor Welcome Emails:

  1. Create a welcome email series for every event.

In order to keep the conversation going with these people, you need to mention their interests. Be sure to reference the specific event they attended. You have a better chance of keeping donors interested by offering content based on the fundraiser they attended. This allows you to take advantage of the emotional momentum that got donors to participate in the first place.

  1. Schedule your first email to go out within a day of the event.

Thank people for attending and showing an interest in your mission. Prepare this message ahead of time and schedule it to go out right after the event. Save any fundraising details and totals for your second email.

  1. Create and send out a survey.

Surveys are a great way to keep your first-time donors engaged. It gives you valuable feedback on what your participants did and didn’t enjoy. You can include it with your thank-you email or add it to your second email. Just make sure they get it early on when their memory of the event is still fresh.

Here’s an example of what this Third-Party Donor series could look like:

  • 1st message: Thank them for coming to the event.
    Emphasize the cause and purpose of the event.

Include a call to action such as an invitation to follow you on social media or to donate and get involved (NOTE: Don’t make this the main point of the message!)

  • 2nd message: Report on event success.
    Give a synopsis of your event and its success. Share and celebrate your fundraising totals.
    Explain how the funds raised will be used to support your cause.
    Include photos or a video of the event.
    Let them know you’ll keep in touch occasionally with updates.
    Include a call to action such as taking a survey about the event or invite them to view a larger photo gallery.
  • 3rd message: Offer other mission or event-specific updates
    Provide mission-related content or news. After conducting a survey, mention the results and your future plans to act on the feedback.
    Include the main call to action: announce any upcoming events and encourage them to register for it and/or fundraise for the upcoming event.

This is your basic rundown of the three types of welcome email series for the three different kinds of donors.  It will take time, testing, and effort. It may seem a bit overwhelming at first. You don’t need to try to do it all at once. Just take one step at a time.

Nonetheless, you’re probably asking, “How do I get started?”

You may already have some kind of a welcome email. If so, start there and use the ideas in this article to refine and develop it further.

If you don’t have any welcome communication, simply choose one of the three audiences and focus on them first. Ask yourself who your warmest leads are and which group of donors would be most valuable for your organization at the present time.

Ultimately, you want to create a targeted series of emails for every new donor, but you need to start by creating your first welcome series.  Gather that “low-hanging fruit”, and then move on to the next.

Remember what was mentioned at the beginning of this article:

>> Only about 27% of new donors actually stick around

  for the future.

Your goal should be keeping your donors involved with your organization, whether they are first-time donors, third-party donors, or event attendees.

An effective welcome email series is an invaluable tool. It gives you a  serious leg up on donor retention and allows you to put your best foot forward, gradually deepening every donor’s connection to your mission.


COVID-19: Digital Crisis Response Platform Available Now

Scroll to Top