How to Write a Nonprofit Welcome Email (With Examples!)

Ryan Jones • Jul 21, 2020
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First impressions matter. 

When you’ve put in countless hours attracting an audience and convincing them to share their contact information with you, it’s important that your first email to them represents your organization well and solidifies the relationship you’re building with your new supporters. 

Why are welcome emails so critical? A quick look at some welcome email stats is a revelation:

  • The average open rate for welcome emails is 50%, which is way more than your standard email communication is likely to get, so this is a great opportunity to reach a lot of eyeballs.
  • 74% of new subscribers expect to get a welcome email; when you deliver on that expectation, it builds trust.
  • Long-term engagement gets a bump—33% on average—when subscribers receive a welcome email, so it’s not just about the here and now, you’re also doing a good thing for the there and then.

So considering the importance of a welcome email, make sure your content is in tip-top condition with the following guidelines and examples.

4 Elements that Make a Welcome Email Effective 

It’s not enough to send a welcome email to new subscribers that just says WELCOME, BUH-BYE. 

You have to write something that both embodies and represents your organization’s brand and offers the reader something—a call to action, a benefit, etc—in order to lay the foundation for a productive relationship into the future. Here are four things to keep in mind as you compose your welcome emails.

1. Supporter-centric tone

In many of your wider communications, such as on social media or in your more general nonprofit email marketing, you may refer to the organization as “we.” When welcoming new subscribers, it’s a great practice to change the perspective to “you.”

Addressing supporters directly in the second person helps them to feel as though they are already a part of your movement and that they haven’t just given their email address to a monolithic organization.

So, for example, instead of:

In 2020, we rose up to defend nature’s gifts—our wildlife, our waterways, our treasured lands—for now and for generations to come.

Write:

In 2020, friends like you joined together to defend nature’s gifts—our wildlife, our waterways, our treasured lands—for now and for generations to come.

As you can see, one is inclusive and the other makes it seem like the nonprofit did all the work without any help from donors.

2. Contact Segmentation

Dividing a giant email list into targetable segments should already be part of your marketing plan. It helps you to tailor communication to specific groups and the practice applies equally to longtime supporters and new email subscribers.

There are lots of different ways that someone may find their way into your database, such as:

  • First-time donors 
  • First-time volunteers
  • New members 
  • New blog subscribers
  • New premium content downloaders
  • Event attendees

For each of these groups, make sure that your welcome email speaks to them in a way that is relevant. For example, you can’t write a welcome email thanking recipients for a donation if some of the people on that list didn’t donate.

3. Timing

Like your welcome email should be, this is a quick one. Send your welcome email right after someone signs up. Like right away. 

A quick welcome email lets your supporters know that you’re paying attention, and that the action they performed (signing up for a newsletter, subscribing to your blog, etc.) was successful.

4. Reporting

Pretty much every post you read here is going to tell you to track what happens with your marketing efforts. Collecting and analyzing data provides concrete insights that will help you revise and iterate more efficiently and effectively. 

But reporting doesn’t start after the welcome email has been sent. Write your welcome emails in a way that will generate data that can help you. Want to test two different subject lines? Try an A/B test. Interested in whether or not a welcome email can generate donations from event attendees? You better write an ask into your message.

Aside from these types of tests, be sure to track metrics like open rates, click-through rates, conversion, and so on. The more numbers you have, the better your welcome emails will be in the future.

7 Nonprofit Welcome Email Examples to Inspire You

If your imagination needs a push in the right direction, here are some excellent examples of welcome emails from around the web.

Have a look and then put your own spin on these tried and true themes.

1. Introduce your organization

Just because someone subscribed to your email list doesn’t mean they know everything about your organization. Maybe they attended an event or donated as part of a P2P campaign and didn’t take the time to fully learn about what you do. Send a welcome email that introduces your nonprofit, your mission, and mention some of the important things you do for the world.

2. Put the boss in front of the camera

People love to feel that they are connecting with real people rather than brands. Additionally, video has proven to be particularly good at engagement.

So book some time with your CEO or executive director and have them record a welcome message for new subscribers. Attaching a face to your mission will help to endear your organization to new supporters.

3. Say thank you

It doesn’t matter why a new subscriber signed up to receive your emails; whether they’re a new donor, an event attendee, or just someone looking for more information about your organization, thank them. Say it upfront and make it obvious.

If you have the ability to segment your lists (see above) include a specific expression of gratitude for whatever it is that the recipient did for you—even just for signing up to receive email communications!

4. Set expectations

A great way to build trust with your audience is to tell them what to expect from you and then deliver on it. In your welcome email, if you promise monthly updates, don’t expect to be able to send an email every week or only once every six months and get away with it.

Furthermore, your email should tell them what types of content to expect in the future. And lastly, your welcome email should look pretty similar to the types of emails you’re going to send out in the months to come so that the experience is smooth and readers start getting used to your communications right away.

5. Share helpful resources

In most cases, new subscribers want to help you in some way. Return the favor by supplying them with relevant and information resources. Blog posts, video links, profiles on other supporters, etc. are all great ways to show your impact and get new readers on board.

6. Ask for donations

While you don’t want to hit new subscribers with a full-court press for donations straight away, a welcome email is a good opportunity to slide in a subtle ask. After all, your goal is always to boost your bottom line.

So don’t hesitate to include a DONATE button in a sidebar or at the bottom of your email, or work a donation link into your content in a way that is contextual to the story you’re telling. If your new audience happens to be moved to give, the means are there to make it happen.

7. Stay connected

The more touchpoints you have with your new supporters, the better it is for audience engagement and participation in your events and campaigns. And you’d be hard-pressed to find an opportunity for more touchpoints than social media.

A welcome email is a great place to get connected on social media, plus people are already primed to recognize social links to Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and more, so go ahead and drop in those links and keep your audience up to date using your feeds.

Now that you’re a welcome email expert, it’s time to get out there and start connecting with the newest members of your organization. And don’t be afraid to get creative—maybe your new welcome email will be featured here in the future!

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