How to keep your nonprofit’s new supporters engaged with compelling welcome emails 

Ben Matthews

By Ben Matthews

In Digital Marketing

Reading Time: 5 minutes

First impressions matter most. It’s a daily reality in email marketing, especially in the realm of charities, foundations, and nonprofits, whose mailing lists are composed of subscribers as well as potential donors ready or looking to support a nonprofit for the long haul. 

Since customer acquisition is known to be a costly endeavour, many businesses and brands ensure that they make the right first steps. In email marketing, this means coming up with a welcome email that stands out in a flooded inbox. An effective opening salvo can make or break your email marketing campaign, and determine whether your new subscribers will look forward to your next newsletter or move on to more interesting subject lines. 

And as a nonprofit, you don’t want to be spending precious dollars on customer acquisition only to blow it away. We looked at a couple of excellent welcome emails, and though most may not be from charities or nonprofits, you can study the elements and apply them to your brand’s next email marketing campaign. Implementing these tactics will work wonders and will guide you in your next campaign.

Send a welcome email from your nonprofit’s CEO, founder, or director

We all know how important it is to personalize your email marketing campaign, and this is a type of personalization that has proven useful for nonprofits time and again. Sending an email from an executive is a sure-fire way to build trust among your subscribers. This strategy works best when your CEO or founder is a well-known person in the nonprofit sector, but it also works as a good way to introduce your leaders if they aren’t as well-known.

Here’s an example from Fracture, which includes the CEO’s signature. If you wish, you can also insert a photo somewhere near the name of your executive.

hello from the fracture team

Source: Really Good Emails

Summarise what you have in store

You’re a nonprofit, so your supporters will likely expect emails around donations, volunteering, and fundraising. Let them know the details and fill them in on the importance behind your cause. 

Make them feel that they’re a part of your grand plan and provide them with an array of options. You want to be able to connect with your supporters any way you can and build a strong and lasting community around them. 

Like the example below, you can use your welcome email to educate supporters about your advocacy, invite them to important events (and not just fundraisers), let them know how they can get involved, and share lots of educational resources. 

welcome to creative mornings

Source: Really Good Emails


Be as visual as possible


While email provides plenty enough space, your supporters can only retain so much information. Many nonprofits and businesses choose to go interactive and include games or quizzes, but you can also insert a video for maximum effect. 

Retailer Bellroy came up with a short animation that begins with a famous, modern phrase, “The struggle is real…” and shows the subscriber how Bellroy products address everyday inconveniences.

Wondering how it would work for a nonprofit like yours? Perhaps you can prepare a similar video or an infographic that shares your story and crunches the numbers on how many you’ve helped and where your money goes. Make it as enjoyable for your subscribers as possible.

You're in - welcome to the Bellroy family

Source: Really Good Emails


Welcome with a call-to-action


Before asking your supporters to subscribe to your mailing list, ask them a couple of questions so you know what it is that they’re looking for. This way, you’ll know what type of welcome email to send. 

For instance, many nonprofit supporters subscribe to mailing lists because they want to know how they can be involved. It’s as straightforward as that. Use your welcome email to invite supporters to take a one-time action or be an active part of the work that you do.

This email from Patagonia Action Works provides an instant call-to-action for subscribers who want to join environmental organizations. In the email, Patagonia Action Works includes a compelling photo and a story on how the youth play a big role in environmental advocacy. It’s another strategy to tug at your subscribers’ heartstrings.

Volunteer your skills for our planet

Source: Really Good Emails


Share stories from the ground


If they could, most of your supporters would go straight to your beneficiaries and help them. But maybe they’re busy and maybe it would cost them more to travel, so they joined your nonprofit instead. 

Your supporters and donors choose your nonprofit because they believe in what you do. They also trust you enough that their help will go a long way and will be felt by the individuals and communities that you speak of. In your welcome email, you can share a story or two from the ground and give your email marketing a more human face.

Here’s a sample email from Charity Water, a nonprofit that has mastered the art of email marketing.

A new way of life for Srey

Source: Really Good Emails

How do you keep your nonprofit’s new supporters engaged?

Email marketing is a tried and true method when it comes to acquiring supporters, building their loyalty, and helping them be an active part of a good cause. With the right elements in your welcome email, you don’t have to worry if the next one will be opened or read. 

On top of the five tips we listed, always remember that a personalized email can never go wrong. Address your supporters by name, set up triggers for specific customer segments, and monitor your supporters’ individual journeys—these are some of the things you can do to make your email interactions with your supporters more personal and relevant.

Nonprofit work is tiresome enough, which is why you need to rally a good set of supporters, volunteers, and donors who will stand by you regardless of the circumstances. And what better way to grow your community than to make them feel that they’re welcome

You can also refer to this detailed resource on how to enhance not just your welcome emails, but your entire email marketing strategy. It includes statistics on subscriber engagement, several examples of great nonprofit emails, and more tips on how to develop the different aspects of your email marketing campaign. Check it out.