The Nonprofit Marketing Blog

Bring-’Em-Close Welcome Packs

I just donated to your organization for the very first time. So what kind of welcome am I going to get?

Will you respond ASAP with a quick, impersonal email and never be heard from again? Or will I receive that generic email or letter a few weeks or even months later, when I’ve totally moved on, and that’s the last I hear from you—until you ask me for more money?

I think you see what I mean.

There’s nothing I hear more of from you than complaints about donor drain. You’re not alone. Donor attrition is a perennial struggle for most nonprofits, despite the fact that retention rates are slowly rising.

But there is a proven, doable path to plugging this deadly donor drain.

Just imagine your organization welcomes me like this:

  • I receive a brief, warm, conversational thank you email within a few hours of my donation. It’s from an individual, who “signs” it.
  • Within the next week or two, I receive a warm, personalized (beyond just my name in the salutation), and in-depth welcome pack.
    • Format is not set in stone, but hard copy can be effective for baby boomers and beyond.
    • Your executive director or a program staffer tells me how my donation is going to make a difference.
    • You also share a clear, easy to remember and repeat story of one or two of the organization’s clients or beneficiaries, and I get to know them a bit more via their photo.
  • I get your organization and start to feel like part of the family.
  • I’m pleased to be appreciated, respected, and making a difference.

You can do it, too!

No matter how small your new donor’s gift, making this early post-thanks communication warm, personal, and motivational (to do more—volunteer, participate, give again—at least in time) is key. It becomes the first step across the bridge to donor retention.

This welcome pack from the Stickley Museum gets five stars.

Stickley Museum Welcome Pack

Take the welcome pack I received following my family’s recent donation experience to the Stickley Museum. The museum is just 30 minutes away and, as the home and workshop of arts and crafts movement designer Gustav Stickley, a place we’d been meaning to visit for years.

We finally got there, arriving just in time for a walking tour (free with admission). We quickly computed that we could join for the price of family admission plus $10 or so. I have to say that both the place and the folks who ran it—mostly volunteers—took us, and we joined.

I thought that was that. I never expected to hear much again from the museum. It’s a tiny organization with just a couple staff members. So I was delighted to receive a juicy welcome pack in the mail a week later. The pack included:

  • A hand-signed thank you/welcome letter from the acting executive director, telling me the difference my donation is going to make. I’m a sucker for real ink.
  • An overview of member benefits, most of which I wasn’t aware of and generated an “a-ha.”
  • A listing of upcoming walking tours on a range of topics I had no idea the museum would address. Who knew this place was even more interesting than I thought?
  • The most recent newsletter, 12 pages in full color. Don’t get stuck there. Yours can be four pages if that’s more doable. The point is to showcase the range of your organization’s impact via words and graphics, and to put varied opportunities for further engagement in front of your new donor.
  • A brief invitation to volunteer with a couple of specific, ultra-short-term opportunities. Finally, an organization that tries to get me more involved at the moment I’m still paying attention. I’m in love!

Take a hard look at the Stickley Museum’s welcome pack components. What’s relevant to your new donors? What else would you add? What’s not a fit?

Shape your welcome pack to your donors’ wants and habits, including format, contents, tone, look, and feel. Do it right, and it’ll feel like a welcoming hug from a newish friend or family member. There’s nothing better!

Tell us: Does your donor welcome pack—traditional or not—bring new donors close? Please share your tips in the comments section.

More on Welcome Packs


With refreshing practicality, Nancy Schwartz rolls up her sleeves to help nonprofits develop and implement strategies to build strong relationships that inspire key supporters to action. She shares her deep nonprofit marketing insights—and passion—through consulting, speaking, and her popular blog and e-news at GettingAttention.org.

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About This Blog

Liz Ragland
Manager, Content & Community

We’re here to help you win hearts and minds—and donations.

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