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3 Tips to Build the Perfect Email Welcome Series


By Bryan Caplan

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Reading Time: 3 minutes

You’ve provided enough value to persuade a potential donor to give you his or her email address. Now what?

It’s time to build the perfect email welcome series. To help you get started, here are three tips for driving donations.

1. Strike the Right Balance

Two common errors with email welcome series reside at opposite ends of the “selling” spectrum.

If your emails focus solely on requesting donations, you’ll come across as pushy and overbearing. If your email list experiences a high percentage of unsubscribers, you may be guilty of too many donor pitches and not enough value.

If, however, your emails often contain content without specific calls to action, you’ll train your list to enjoy the musings of your organization without getting involved. Remember, the purpose of email marketing is to convert your readers into donors (and volunteers).  By giving readers endless content without a clear next step, you take away any sense of urgency and even risk frustrating potential contributors.

The key to strike the right balance between passive readers and unsubscribers is to provide value and a next step in your follow-up emails. For example, if your first email introduces your organization, let them know there are other great ways to stay in touch. Ask them to follow you on social media to give them a next step that further builds the relationship.

2. Keep It Human

An obvious goal of any development team is to drive donations. This desire for additional revenue, however, must not appear to obscure the greater goal of impact. To create a sense of trust and transparency with your audience, connect a donor’s gift to impact by providing updates and examples.

It also pays to remember that email subscribers prefer emails from actual human beings. Your tone dictates whether the subscriber categorizes you as a human or a robot. Personal touches such as the subscriber’s name instead of “dear donor” help subscribers know you’re human.

Another personal touch is to write how you would speak. If you want your emails to be conversational, use a conversational tone. Whatever you do, don’t throw in arcane expressions or business jargon to impress the reader. Read the email aloud. If it doesn’t sound like a human wrote it, try again.

Lastly, before you hit send, ask yourself if your message conveys “care.” Is the message personal? Do you address the reader’s need or desire to give? Do you add value or point to a solution to their need?

3. Don’t Lose Sight of Your Goal

Getting someone to subscribe to your email list is a necessary first step for email marketing. It is not, however, the goal of email marketing. You engage in email marketing to turn readers into donors. When you create an email welcome series, that is the purpose.

With this in mind, carefully consider your call to action for every email. It should serve as a natural continuation of the value you’ve created in your content and feel like a logical next step. To nudge the reader along, make sure the benefit of taking action are clear and concise.

Creating an effective email welcome series is an involved process, but if you implement these three tips, you can see an uptick in engagement and donations. Of course, if you need help, considering working with a professional email marketing agency to determine your strategy and develop your content.


Bryan Caplan helps businesses elevate their digital marketing. CEO of BJC Branding and professional speaker, Bryan travels the country, presenting on a wide range of digital marketing topics. Bryan is a guest lecturer at the Sawyer School of Business and a contributing columnist to several publications including GoDaddy, BlueHost, and Constant Contact.

A Comprehensive Guide to Nonprofit Welcome Emails

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