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5 Things you need to achieve with your nonprofit email welcome series

Nonprofit Email Marketing

First impressions matter.

That’s why your nonprofit email welcome series is so important.

It will lay the foundation for your entire relationship with your new subscribers.

Do you want your new subscriber to become an active member of your community of support?

Do you want them to become a donor? Or a volunteer? Or a member?

Do you want them to become a raving fan that spreads the news of your good work on social media?

Then let’s make sure you get started on the right foot.

I’ve identified 5 things all nonprofits should aim to achieve with their nonprofit email welcome series. I’ll explain them all below.

Let’s get into it…

Build a genuine relationship with them

I cannot overstress this point.

Too often a nonprofit’s email welcomes series is written with the mindset that it’s all about what the nonprofit needs from their readers.

Which is usually money…

And this is apparent in their email marketing because before they’ve even tried to establish a relationship with their subscriber they are asking them to make a donation.

Now, I know that some people do make a donation when approached in this way, but those are your warm prospects.

They’re going to make a donation regardless of what you say. Maybe even in spite of what you say.

You don’t need to worry about losing the donations of these subscribers. You earned their donation before you even asked.

But what about everyone else? What about those who aren’t ready to make a donation? How do you get them warmed up?

It all starts with how you treat them.

You see, it’s not about you or your mission. It’s about them and what they need.

You should approach new subscribers from the perspective that you want to build a long-term, genuine relationship with them.

How do you do this?

Start by putting yourself in their shoes. See things from their perspective.

Why is it that they signed up for your email list?

What did they want to get out of it?

What are they hoping for?

What do they want from you?

This is your starting point.

Understand what they want from you and give it to them.

Always give first. That is how you show them you care about them and you appreciate their interest in your organization.

When you approach cold subscribers in this way they will be much more interested in continuing to engage with your organization.

And you’ll be inching them toward taking their first action in support of your cause.

Answer their most pressing questions

Now that we are approaching this welcome series from the correct email marketing mindset, let’s look at what you can do to start giving them what they want.

They’ve given you permission to email them for quite a few reasons, but one of them is definitely so that they can learn more about your nonprofit.

They want to know more about…

  • what you do
  • who you help
  • the impact you have
  • how you use donations, and
  • how you hold yourself accountable

Make sure you are answering these questions in your email welcome series.

Make them FEEL something

Of course, sending an email with your mission statement and a description of your technical approach might answer the above questions, but if that is all you do, then you are missing a key element in your email welcome series.

You need to make your subscribers FEEL something.

You need to make them care about your success, not just because you’ve logically explained the need, but because you’ve engaged them emotionally.

Emotion drives action.

If you never make them feel anything then you will never get them to take action.

Give them opportunities to help

If you’ve shown your new subscribers that you want to build a genuine relationship with them…

If you’ve done a good job answering their questions…

And if you’ve engaged them emotionally in your work…

Then your new subscribers will want to know how they can get involved.

Now they are ready for your call to action.

But don’t ask them to do ten different things in the same email. Your subscribers will only take one action, regardless of how many options you give them.

You can better control what actions people take and build more engagement momentum by limiting the number of options you give people in each email.

Segment your subscribers based on their actions

The final task of your nonprofit email welcome series is to segment your subscribers.

Segmenting your subscribers will allow you to tailor your future communications with them based on how they interact with your email welcome series.

Did they do nothing? Keep them in the prospect list.

Did they make a donation? Move them into the first time donor list.

Did they sign up to volunteer? Move them to the volunteer list.

You get the idea. Now you can continue to build your relationship with them based on how they’ve chosen to engage with your organization.

This is an important step often overlooked, but without it, you lose out on the full power of email automation.


These are the 5 things you should achieve with your nonprofit email welcome series:

  1. Build a genuine relationship
  2. Answer their most pressing questions
  3. Make them FEEL something
  4. Give them opportunities to help
  5. Segment your subscribers based on their actions

Keep doing good work,
Jeremy Signature



4 comments… add one
  • Great post Jeremy! #5, segmenting subscribers, is unbelievably crucial for building relationships. The difference between an email that resonates with a prospect and one that completely turns them off can be as little as one sentence. Considering the whole idea of email marketing is to build and facilitate relationship building it only makes sense to create fine-tuned segments based on subscriber actions. Thanks for the reminder to remember it is all about the donor!

    • Jeremy

      Thanks, Zach. I’m glad this resonated with you. Segmenting can seem intimidating at first, but today’s email automation software makes it so much easier.

  • The information you have provided is very useful. I have been trying to reach out to potential donors but with no success. I definitely need your advice to promote my non-profit organization. My organization, Afghan Rural Schools, supports three schools in Afghanistan. So far, we have provided electricity to three schools, one for girls and two for boys, and office of the Director of Education in the district of Khas Kunar, Kunar, Afghanistan. Our next project is to establish a computer center in a central location accessible to all the three schools. I must have sent over 100 letters to potential donors during 2015 but have not been able to raise any money.

    It seems you have good experience and expertise and I will certainly benefit if from them if you are willing to share them with me.

    I thank you in advance and look forward to hearing from you.


    Abdul Qayum Safi, President
    Afghan Rural Schools

    • Jeremy

      Dr. Abdul Qayum – Thanks for all the good work you are doing to help children in rural Afghanistan. I know it is a challenging mission.
      My first suggestion would be to start telling stories about specific children that benefit from the work of your organization. Your website provides a lot of information about your background, but you don’t need people to connect with you so much as you need them to connect to the children who benefit from your work and their donations.
      Also, be sure to include lots of social proof of your work. The YouTube video is a good start, but you’ll need more.
      Email me if you want to discuss in greater detail.
      Best of luck!

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