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Many nonprofit organizations offer memberships, allowing supporters to engage more deeply with their work. Just think of an art museum or zoo membership. Your members represent an important group of dedicated donors who are invested in your nonprofit’s success.

To keep members invested in their work, many nonprofits stress the importance of member appreciation. However, it’s also important to know how to properly welcome new members. This guide will help you step up your efforts by covering the following topics:

Membership programs have many benefits for nonprofits, as they help to secure future revenue and lead to greater stability. Let’s make sure you start on the right foot and dive into why it’s important to welcome new members!

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Why is it important to welcome new members?

This image shows why it’s important to welcome new members, also detailed in the text below.
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It’s crucial to ensure new members feel welcome when they join your nonprofit’s membership program. Doing so allows your nonprofit to:

  1. Make a good first impression. Wow new members with the thought you’ve put into your welcome message and show them the effort that you’re making to ensure they have a positive experience.
  2. Build a stronger relationship. With a stellar first impression, members will be more likely to form a stronger connection with your nonprofit.
  3. Boost engagement. Since your members will have started with positive feelings towards your organization, they’ll want to engage more with your events and other programs. They might even volunteer for you or make additional gifts.
  4. Increase members retention. Members provide you with steady revenue to continue fulfilling your mission, so it’s crucial that you retain their interest in your nonprofit. Because of their increased engagement with your programs and events, members are more likely to continue supporting your organization in the future.

Making a good first impression creates a waterfall effect that results in more donations and support for your nonprofit in the future. Put a considerable amount of thought into how you welcome new members. This will ensure that they’re impressed with your professionalism and increase the likelihood that they form stronger relationships and engage more with your nonprofit.

6 ways to welcome new members

To help you get started, we’ve gathered six ideas for welcoming new members that you can implement for your nonprofit. These suggestions can also be applied to members of organizations that aren’t nonprofits, such as associations or clubs.

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1. Write a heartfelt welcome letter.

One of the best ways to welcome new members to your nonprofit’s program is by sending them a heartfelt welcome letter. Here are some tips for writing your welcome letter:

  • Address each member by their preferred name. If your donor’s name has a prefix such as “Dr.” or they have a nickname that they usually go by, address them with their preferred name to show them that you care about their preferences.
  • Acknowledge your member’s reason for joining. Different members will have different reasons for joining your program. Acknowledge their unique reason in their letter to form a stronger connection.
  • Mention their dues payment schedule. Make sure to add necessary information about your membership program in your letter—your members will want to know when their membership fees are due each month.
  • Provide instructions for accessing their benefits. Aside from the engagement opportunities, another major reason supporters join nonprofit membership programs is because of the benefits they offer. So make sure that your welcome message includes instructions for how they can access these benefits.
  • Highlight upcoming member events. To help members get started with your nonprofit, highlight upcoming events that they can attend.
  • Share more about your nonprofit. When a supporter becomes a member, they’re showing their investment in your nonprofit. Take the opportunity to share a little bit more about your organization, such as a behind-the-scenes sneak peek.

Make sure that you also show your gratitude in your welcome letter. Acknowledge the investment members are making in your nonprofit and recognize the support they’re lending you. One way to do this is by connecting the annual total of their membership dues with a tangible impact on your beneficiaries. For example, if the membership dues for your animal shelter come out to $1,200 annually, you could let your new member know that this amount will cover the medical bills of 50 dogs.

2. Create a welcome eCard.

This image shows the benefits of using eCards for welcoming new members.
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To make your new member welcome even more eye-catching, create an eCard and include your welcome letter inside it. eCards are essentially digital greeting cards, and they are a creative way to connect with your members. Using them as a form of communication has many benefits, as eCards are:

  • Convenient. With the click of a button, you’ll be able to send eCards to your new members. You can even automate the process so members instantly receive the eCard when they sign up.
  • Cost-effective. With eCards, you’ll be able to save on printing and mailing fees associated with sending physical welcome letters to each member.
  • Eco-friendly. Due to the digital nature of eCards, your nonprofit will be one step closer to a paperless and eco-friendly system.
  • Customizable. eCards are extremely customizable—you can pick the image or graphic on the card itself, the message on and in the card, the fonts, and even the colors.
  • Interactive. Many eCards have interactive elements that help simulate the feeling of opening a physical greeting card. You can also add animated details like Teremana did for its Valentine’s Day cards.

Sending new members an eCard is a unique way to connect with them and make them feel welcome and special. These cards show the effort you’re making to get to know your members and they’ll feel appreciated. When coupled with a heartfelt welcome letter, your nonprofit will make a stellar first impression.

3. Send a welcome gift.

This image shows some of the different types of gifts you can send to welcome new members, also detailed in the text below.
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For some members, a physical trinket is more meaningful than a letter. That’s why it’s a good idea to send your new members a welcome gift. These gifts don’t need to break the bank—you can choose something small and budget-friendly. Some gift ideas include:

  • Branded merchandise. Allow your members to proudly show their support for your nonprofit by gifting them branded items such as t-shirts, water bottles, towels, phone cases, and more.
  • Gift cards. Send gift cards to stores your new members frequent to show that you’re taking their interests into consideration.
  • Trinkets. Trinkets are inoffensive and small gifts that most people, including your new members, would enjoy. This type of gift includes stationery, succulents, keychains, and magnets.

Regardless of which gift you choose, make sure that it relates to your nonprofit in some way. For example, if your nonprofit is focused on environmental conservation, a small plant or succulent is a relevant gift. Or, if your nonprofit is a soup kitchen, you could send magnets that look like food.

4. Add them to your online member community.

Online member communities are fairly self-explanatory—nonprofits set up these communities to allow members to form relationships and engage with one another. As part of your new member’s welcome, add them to your nonprofit’s member community. Encourage them to share their reasons for supporting your organization and to network with other members.

Not only will this make new members feel like a part of your nonprofit’s greater community, but it will also show them the value of being a part of your member program. They’ll be able to see why other members joined your program, which will reinforce that their decision to join was a good one.

5. Spotlight new members in your communications.

As an extra gesture of appreciation and to encourage other supporters to become members, spotlight new members in your communications to your community at large. Feature new members in your:

  • Email newsletter. At the bottom of your email newsletter, include the names of new members. You might even consider sending an email specifically about your new members and their stories to further highlight their contributions.
  • Social media posts. Some nonprofits will feature key volunteers or staff members on their social media pages. Why not do the same with new members?
  • Website. Dedicate a portion of your membership page to your new members.

Although many new members will appreciate this gesture, some individuals are more private and prefer to stay out of the limelight. On your membership sign-up form, consider adding a field asking if the new member would prefer to not be mentioned in your communications. That way, you’ll be able to respect your supporter’s wishes and show your appreciation for their contribution.

6. Host a welcome event.

This image shows several types of events you can host to welcome new members, also detailed in the text below.
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The best way to illustrate the value your nonprofit can bring to its members is by letting them dive headfirst into your activities. One way to do that is by inviting them to a welcome event for new members. Some ideas for welcome events include:

  • Member orientation. Similar to a job orientation but much more fun, you’ll gather a group of new members for this event and walk them through how they access their member benefits and access your online member community.
  • Welcome tour. For members that are local to your nonprofit’s operations, give them a tour of your office or workspace to give them a behind-the-scenes peek at your work.
  • Happy hour. A happy hour event is a casual social gathering where your new members can mingle and meet each other while enjoying drinks, food, and conversation. 
  • Trivia tournament. Trivia tournaments are a fun and engaging way to kick off a member’s journey with your nonprofit. Write trivia questions about your nonprofit so that attendees learn more about your organization.
  • Leadership meet-and-greet. As a special welcome event for new members, host a gathering with some important or key leaders from your nonprofit. Allow attendees to ask questions to get insight into the inner workings of the organization.

Ensure that all your new members are included in your welcome events by offering virtual options. That way, supporters that aren’t local to your organization’s headquarters will be able to attend and see what your nonprofit has to offer them.

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27 welcome messages to send to new members

To help you get started with drafting welcome communications to new members, we’ve prepared a list of 27 messages to help jumpstart the process. Feel free to customize and adjust these messages to better fit your nonprofit’s image and needs.

Welcome letter sentiments

  1. Thank you for joining [name of nonprofit]’s membership program! On behalf of our nonprofit’s staff and beneficiaries, we would like to extend our warmest welcome!
  2. Welcome to [name of nonprofit]’s membership program. Thank you for becoming one of our most trusted supporters.
  3. We’re thrilled to welcome you to [name of nonprofit]’s membership program. We hope that through your experience with us, we’ll come to learn more about each other.
  4. [Name of nonprofit] would like to extend you a heartfelt welcome to our membership program. We are incredibly grateful for your support.
  5. Congratulations on becoming a member of [name of nonprofit]’s program! We’re so excited to have you join us and learn more about what we do.
  6. Welcome aboard [name of nonprofit]’s membership program! With the support of members such as yourself, we’re able to continue working towards fulfilling our mission.
  7. The staff of [name of nonprofit] want to thank you for joining our pawsome membership program! We’re delighted to have you join us and are wagging our tails excitedly at your support of our mission!

Welcome eCard slogans

  1. Welcome!
  2. Excited to have you!
  3. Welcome to the team!
  4. Thanks for your support!
  5. Let’s make a difference together!
  6. Your generosity inspires us.
  7. Welcome to the family!
  8. Together, we can do great things.

Welcome gift snippets

  1. As a welcome present, we’ve included [gift] for you to enjoy!
  2. Please accept this [gift] to welcome you to our membership program.
  3. To show our gratitude for your support, we’ve enclosed [gift] as a token of our appreciation.
  4. To congratulate you on becoming a member of [name of nonprofit]’s membership program, we’ve sent a gift for you!
  5. Please enjoy some of [name of nonprofit]’s swag to welcome you as a member!

Welcome event invitations

  1. You are cordially invited to [name of nonprofit]’s member welcome gala.
  2. Come to [name of nonprofit]’s happy hour at [location and time]. Let’s get to know each other over good food and yummy drinks!
  3. To kick off your membership onboarding process, we’re hosting a virtual onboarding call at [date and time]! Click here to sign up and get the link to the Zoom meeting.
  4. Ready to get a behind-the-scenes peek at [name of nonprofit]’s work? Join us on [date and time] for a meeting with [name of key leader and their title]!
  5. Join us on an exclusive welcome tour of [name of nonprofit]’s facilities on [date and time].
  6. Let’s celebrate your membership to [name of nonprofit] with a trivia tournament!
  7. Mingle with other members at our exclusive get-together at [location, date, and time]. We hope to see you there!

When deciding on which message to send your new members, consider your nonprofit’s voice and brand. Do your communications usually have a formal tone or a casual tone? What kind of voice would you like to use for your membership program? On one hand, using a more formal writing style will make your nonprofit seem more professional. On the other hand, a casual writing style will seem more friendly, helping you build rapport more effectively.

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Additional Resources

Having a strong welcome strategy for new members will go a long way toward building rapport and forming positive relationships. When your nonprofit implements its membership program, consider how you can make your welcome special. Ask yourself, what can you offer your members that no other organization can? What do they want from their membership? And use the answers to those questions as a jumping-off point.

If you’d like to learn more about engaging your members and donors, take a look at these resources:

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