While every lead that converts into a customer is a win for a startup, growth teams know that conversion is just the beginning. Flounder or hesitate at the next step: onboarding; and you are missing a key opportunity to prevent churn and encourage stickiness. The onboarding process, which is meant to help new customers get acclimated to their new service, is an essential feature in and of itself, and it can make or break the customer’s relationship with the business. A poor onboarding process leaves startup customers or clients in the dark, making them feel confused, frustrated, and disappointed; not a great impression. Creating an excellent onboarding experience is critical because it helps clients feel heard and valued, boosts client satisfaction, and makes sure both parties are on the same page.

As a a software startup ourselves, Civic Champs is working on implementing many of the Onboarding best practices you will read about below to bolster trust and satisfaction in our new customers. If you are a customer and you are reading this blog-- let us know how can make your onboarding better! We are in the process of building out the very best introduction to our product we can so customers feel supported and excited to create more impact with a great volunteer management platform. In the same way that a comprehensive onboarding experience can lead to repeat business for startups, onboarding allows nonprofits to cultivate loyal volunteers that repeatedly give their time and/or money.

In this article we will discuss how to create a strong volunteer and donor onboarding process that strengthen loyalty, build trust, and decrease constituent fall-off. Here's what we will cover: 

  1. Providing a strong first impression
  2. Following up with new donors and volunteers
  3. Demonstrating organizational value

1. Providing a strong first impression

First impressions matter. If your nonprofit doesn’t make a good first impression, chances are you will struggle to retain volunteers or gain consistent donors.

Your organization will leave a negative impression on prospective volunteers and donors if they are:

  • Confused about where to look to find information about signing up for events
  • Unaware of your mission and vision
  • Unsure of how to take the first steps toward becoming a volunteer
  • Unclear on how to donate money to your nonprofit organization
  • Confused about how to set up recurring donations and receive information about how their donations support your organization
  • Unsure of who to contact to receive information they need to contact to fill out background checks and other necessary paperwork

The first impression and how you make a volunteer or donor feel when they first engage with your organization is critical. 

Think about what a prospective donor or volunteer will see when they first visit your organization’s website. If there are no clear steps guiding them from your landing page to exactly where on your site they need to go to volunteer or to donate money, you will lose them- possibly forever.

You don’t have to jump through hoops to make a strong first impression. Take a page from the startup playbook and make every step your donors and volunteers need to take as clear as possible. 

Anyone who is interested in serving or donating to your organization should never have to ask “Where do I go from here?” They aren’t experts on using your scheduling system or any other platforms you may utilize, and they won’t know the steps they need to take until you show them the way.

2. Follow-up with new donors and volunteers

Far too often, donors will sign up to give money to a nonprofit and volunteers will sign up to serve with a nonprofit, and then…..radio silence.

If you are only communicating with your volunteers and donors when it’s time for them to help with an event or contribute money, you are going to have a difficult time keeping them engaged with your organization.

As a part of your onboarding process, invest in a system where you can send frequent communication to keep volunteers and donors engaged and bolster your outreach. 

Sending messages with next steps or key information about your nonprofit will help volunteers stay connected with your organization. Sending newsletters that provide updates about events and the impact your nonprofit is making in the community can help donors feel like they are a vital part of your organization, increasing the likelihood that they will donate again in the future.

3. Demonstrate value

When you are engaging with new volunteers and donors, remember that helping your organization is completely new to them:

  • They don’t know the ins and outs of your organization
  • They haven’t fully bought into your mission and vision
  • They don’t know exactly how their time and volunteer hours make a difference in the community

That’s where your thorough onboarding strategy comes into play.

It’s essential that you demonstrate the value of your organization by welcoming your volunteers and donors in a way that encourages them to become lifelong “customers.”

On every landing page of your website, your donors and volunteers should be able to clearly see exactly what makes your organization so great.

Try incorporating the following features into your onboarding process:

  • Integrated walkthroughs- walking your volunteers and donors through one feature at a time as they fill out their profile so they have a better understanding of their role within your organization
  • Sample data and tooltips- provide them with pre-filled sample data to play with in places where their data will be stored. What does volunteering 12 hours do for the life of an at risk youth or for an abused animal? Show them explicitly how much impact they can have. Explain visually exactly how their dollars and/or volunteer hours are able to make an impact. 
  • Video- offer a short and sweet video that highlights why volunteers and donors are integral to your organization

In this way, you are showing these individuals how their valued contributions to your meaningful organization can have a positive impact in the community.

By demonstrating value, you are not only helping volunteers and donors recognize the benefits of continuing to support your organization, but you are also giving them incentives to complete all of the steps necessary to get started with their volunteer work and monetary contributions.

There are going to be steps that are boring to complete, from watching training videos to filling out essential paperwork. Previewing the value of completing these tasks will help you get the best results with your volunteer and donor onboarding.

When you are able to create a great first impression, follow-up with your new donors and volunteers, and demonstrate value using your onboarding flow, it will be easier for you to recruit and retain lifelong volunteers and donors for your nonprofit.

Learn more about onboarding and how you can simplify the onboarding process using a volunteer management solution when you request a demo with Civic Champs.

About the Author:
Geng Wang

As CEO of Civic Champs, I lead our team of passionate change leaders to create technology solutions to create a seamless and rewarding volunteering experience for both volunteers and service organizations.

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