How to Create an Effective New Donor Welcome Series

Last updated: March 26, 2020

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Guest Post from CauseMic. 

There’s no better time to prioritize meaningful donor relationships than the first quarter of the new year. Roughly a third of all charitable giving occurs in the month of December, and any new donors acquired during the year-end fundraising campaign should be immediately nurtured to ensure they remain engaged. You can expect open and click-through rates to be among the highest in your email communications, as these new donors are excited to experience your brand. Onboard new supporters by sharing your story, demonstrating impact, and asking for additional investment through a new donor welcome series that both establishes trust and keeps them engaged.

A new donor welcome series is a three to five-part email series that thanks new donors for being a part of your organization and shares valuable info to bring them up to speed on the important work you do. This should be built ahead of time and automated through your email service provider. Aim for a cadence between 4-7 days so you’re respecting supporter inboxes.

Implement the following best practices to maximize your impact while you nurture your newest constituents. 

1. Say thanks.

Start your series off on a high note with a thoughtful thank you. While we also recommend firing off an automatic thank you immediately after a gift is made, this expression of gratitude goes one step further to really let your donors know you care. Your new donor welcome series should be developed and ready to go a couple of days after an initial gift is made (24-48 hours is the sweet spot). In addition to expressing gratitude, set expectations upfront about future communications as you begin to cultivate and guide these new relationships towards deeper levels of involvement.

2. Personalize your outreach.

Not all donors are the same! Depending on how these new donors made their first gift, they may require different content. Consider how you might engage with a first-time donor, versus a donor that gave through a peer-to-peer fundraiser or attended an event. 

First-time donors: While many donors conduct a bit of research before making a gift, don’t assume they know everything about your organization or impact. This is a great space to share visual content – powerful imagery or video – to give new supporters a clear idea of who you are and what problem you’re solving. Depending on giving level, this may not be the best segment to ask for another gift right away. Consider getting first-time donors involved and ingrained in your organization in other ways, as an event participant or volunteer. Assess your desired outcome based on your organization’s needs and supporter’s interests. 

Third-party donors: are individuals who may have made a gift through a friend or family member’s peer-to-peer fundraising page or perhaps through a corporate partner. The retention rate of these donors is fairly low (estimated under 20%), considering these donors are often giving through a person they know, rather than the organization. Help these supporters get to know you a bit better by sharing high-level information about your impact.

Event attendees: are donors that have made a gift after attending one of your events or fundraisers. These supporters have a leg-up on first-time and third-party donors because they’ve already seen your work in action, and were inspired enough to make a gift. These new donors are primed to share stories and outline plans for the future, as they’ve already demonstrated buy-in. 

3. Establish credibility and trust.

Donors have many choices when it comes to giving their dollars to worthy nonprofits. Don’t lose the opportunity to let them know they’ve made a wise choice by making a gift to your organization. Highlight what sets you apart and makes your organization unique! Showcase how you bring the mission of your organization to life and establish credibility by sharing relevant news stories, social proof, and any guide star or charity navigator badges of honor on your website. Consider highlighting quantitative data around work accomplished, and goals for the future. 

4. Make another ask.

Now that you’ve shared the sweet sauce of your mission with new constituents, they’re primed to continue to support your organization. The final email of your series should revolve around a strong call-to-action depending on the greatest need of your organization – either monthly giving, fundraising volunteering, or an additional one-time gift. 

5. Evaluate your results.

New donor welcome series emails can boast an open rate as high as 50% – a statistic that makes digital marketer’s mouths water. Keep track of open, click-through, and unsubscribe rates and adjust fire as needed. 

Founded in 2013, CauseMic is a Portland-based digital marketing agency that empowers nonprofits to leverage technology, storytelling, and design to raise money and awareness online. In short, CauseMic helps nonprofits do the most good.

Written by Guest

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