Welcoming New Donors with an Email Series

First donations are opportunity to cultivate a long-term relationship. While not all donors will contribute regularly, it is hard to know by a first contribution who will be there in the long run. Some small donors turn out to be your largest donors years later. No donor should be treated as an after-thought, regardless of how small their contribution. They could also potentially become great community allies or volunteers. Value varies, but all are important. So how can you nurture that new donor to put your best foot forward in fostering a long-term relationship?

Create a Welcome Email Series

The first step is to send a welcome email series. The momentum is strong at the start of the relationship. Does this need to be time intensive? Not necessarily. There are many automated options available to businesses and nonprofits alike. Should it be cold and distant? Absolutely not. Should it be overwhelmingly love-bomby? I wouldn’t recommend it. Think of it like a romantic relationship. There are many people telling people to play manipulative games to get behaviors out of their potential partner, only to drop the ball and fail miserably once the target invests in the relationship. Be sure you can deliver on your promises and also demonstrate ways in which they can continue to help you accomplish these goals. People seek partnership in the healthiest relationships and in order to have a healthy donor base, you need to remember these relationships.

Welcome email series can be set up in programs such as Constant Contact or MailChimp. These are mail programs, however you can use more robust programs like what many Donor Management Systems offer to do more like CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system needs (invoices, tracking appointments, emails, and more). There, you can find a scheduler, automated forms that they can complete, which can trigger workflows with various pre-written emails depending upon what they select. For marketing, some prefer a program like Salsa Engage, but for relationship management, we prefer Salsa CRM. We use both. We send weekly emails through Salsa Engage to a larger email list of interested, yet not invested parties, and then direct workflow emails to those who have chosen to engage in the campaign through Salsa CRM. These two programs work together, so your campaigns are simultaneously updating your CRM system. Salsa CRM can also track donation history for each donor. If you run a donation campaign where people make donations, Salsa CRM can manage this through their donation system. It can even send reminders on a schedule for you.

What is a Welcome Email Series?

A welcome email series is a pre-written email response sent to the donor automatically after their first donation is received. Emails can then be send at pre-scheduled periods over several weeks or months to keep your donor engaged. Regular, but not too frequent communications builds a consistent relationship without overwhelming your donor. This also sets the tone for what they can expect from your organization. Consistency is a key component of donor retention. 

Goals and Objectives

Any successful campaign requires clear goals and objectives. Ensure your email series fulfills a consistent pattern to support specific goal and objectives. Your goals and objectives for having the series include donor retention, developing relationships, increasing active volunteer numbers, and improved monthly giving program growth. These are just a few examples that you can use. Use the goals and objectives most suitable to your organization’s objectives. Below is a sample:

Email #1: Thank You and Relationship Engagement

Thank the donor for their generous donation and interest in your organization. Reaffirm their decision to contribute to your nonprofit organization’s efforts. Encourage engagement opportunities where they can actively participate by visiting your organization’s events, fundraisers, and office. You can also invite them to connect through social media, email, your web page, or your blog.

Email #2: Invitation

Donors like to feel that they are included and involved. Ask them to join your mission by attending your events, volunteering for your programs or events, or participating in a current giving campaign.

Email #3: Build Your Donor Relationship

This is when you learn more about what interests your donors. Invite them to share more about themselves and if they would be interested in volunteer opportunities. Find out what it is about your nonprofit that drew their support. Find out if they have personal connections to your cause or your organization. You can use this opportunity to send them a survey to complete. Make sure to include a welcoming link to the survey form that you have previously set up. You can use programs like Salsa Engage or Survey Monkey to complete this task. Use survey data for future planning and additional email campaigns to target niche groups in your support system.

Email #4: Invite Monthly Giving

Monthly giving is frequently the easiest way for some donors to support your cause. Perhaps they want to do more, but cannot do it all at once. Invite them to join your monthly giving program to increase their contributions and support of your organization’s efforts. Include stories about how their support matters.

This was an example email series campaign. You can customize this to fit your organization’s goals and use this in other ways to promote other activities that your nonprofit is engaged with. Make sure that your emails work for the donors as much as they work for you.