You know that magical time at the beginning of a relationship when things are new and we’re eager to get to know one another? It’s the phase in the relationship when we want (and expect) to be courted — for the welcome mats to be rolled out for us.

We call it the honeymoon phase, but it’s not just reserved for our romantic relationships.

When a new supporter shows an affinity to your cause, they, too, expect you to roll out the welcome mat.

This is your time to woo them. Show them what your organization is all about.

Your welcome series is like that delicate period after the first date when you talk on the telephone, exchange emails, and text, all the while building your connection and relationship. It’s the perfect opportunity to engage someone’s growing interest with a heartfelt message and opportunities to get involved.

The first message should be stewardship focused and casual.

Welcome them to your online community, explain who you are, why your organization’s mission is critical, and where you provide services. Ideally, this message should be a personal communication from the face of your organization, like the CEO or programs director.

Some of the best welcome messages are personal stories about why the writer works at the organization and why the mission is so important to him or her. And since email is casual, this is the time to establish your organization’s online identity and voice. Be relaxed, personable, and warm – not institutional-sounding and formal.

Writing for the web tip: After writing your message, read it aloud. It should sound like you’re talking to the reader.

Welcome series campaigns should be two to“three“ message campaigns that go out to new subscribers.

  • If you’re doing a two-part series, the second message should ask the reader to take action. Ask people to volunteer, donate, become a fan on Facebook®, or learn more by watching videos on YouTube®. The email should offer several ways to get involved and take action, and it could be a continuation of the first message from the CEO or could come from the staff and volunteers, adding a touch of “family” to the series. Either way, the content is about choices and asking the reader to get involved.
  • With a three-part welcome series campaign, remove mention of making a donation in message two (make it all about learning more and getting involved), and then in part three, craft a compelling mission-based story with an ask for support. Again, the tone should be casual, yet earnest and focused on how the reader can make an impact. See your mission through their eyes; the theme shouldn’t focus on the organization’s need, but the community’s need for your services.

Writing for the web tip: Ask yourself when crafting the ask: What are you trying to get someone else to do?

Once you’ve created the welcome series, be sure to set it up as an automated recurring campaign so that every week it refreshes and gets delivered to a new batch of subscribers. Be sure to suppress the new subscribers from other email communications until they get the first message. You want their first stop on this relationship pathway to be the heartfelt welcome message.

Show that you’ve been paying attention.

Over the past few months, you’ve nurtured your relationship and built a level of trust in each another with consistent, targeted ongoing communications. As the journey continues, use your tools and knowledge to personalize and customize interactions with your supporter.

As your relationship evolves, treating donors differently is important to keeping them and increasing their lifetime value. As the latest research shows, the growing preference among all donor age segments is email, website, and social media. Donors want to get their updates in an interactive and immediate fashion. They also prefer to engage in those channels, too.

Stewarding and growing a relationship is about knowing people: considering their interests, understanding their preferences, and acknowledging their history with you.

Using your online tools, create user accounts that enable supporters to log in, update information, indicate preferences, and allow you to present specialized custom content. With the right planning and technology, you can implement donor-only content for ongoing communications, create web content that has exclusive donor news, pictures, and videos, and even customize your website to welcome people back on their next visit.

With any relationship, an important rite of passage is meeting the parents and friends; the same is true online.

A very important engagement tactic is enabling your supporters to express their values by evangelizing your mission through things like social media, pledges to make a difference, and getting friends involved.

Using the donor profiles and the personas you created with that information, plan interactive online campaigns and events that engage your donors and allow them to be your champions.This kind of personalization takes your community to the next level; like the perfect family dinner where everything goes right, your donorswill feel satisfied, fulfilled, and rewarded because they’ve made a difference.

Show them you’ve been paying attention, stay top of mind, and communicate with them so you’ll become their favorite charity. Every point of contact is about building, so make sure your strategy for cultivation and engagement is donor focused with personalized content and opportunities for next steps.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Danielle Johnson-Vermenton, CFRE, is a Principal Consultant at Blackbaud and is often called to present at events like Digital Leap, AFP Planet Philanthropy and BBCON.  Prior to Blackbaud, Danielle worked in the nonprofit industry in roles such as director of individual giving at Boys & Girls Clubs, leadership giving manager at the Red Cross and director of development at HUGS for Kids. Danielle’s passion is inspiring nonprofits to have a plan for today with a grand vision for tomorrow. You can follow Danielle @DJVermenton and find her blogging on npENGAGE.

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