Does your nonprofit have a few new members? New member onboarding isn’t merely another paperwork-oriented process. Instead, it’s your first opportunity to make a positive and lasting impression.
When you incorporate novel ideas into your orientation procedures, everyone benefits. We’ll explore the importance of onboarding and reveal some of the best new member orientation ideas that you could employ to successfully bring members into the fold.
New member orientation
When you’re hiring staff or accepting new members, it’s crucial to provide an orientation event to help them learn more about your mission, your organization’s policies and what tasks need to be completed. As such, onboarding is a necessary process for any nonprofit, charity or association.
However, orientation events are also an excellent chance to make a fantastic impression. Though new members have already decided to become a part of your organization, they may still have a few questions and concerns. A successful orientation event will answer all questions while also keeping energy and positivity levels high.
Why are new member orientations important?
If you think about orientations in a work environment, they’re an important part of welcoming new employees. For example, employers or team leaders may require additional information from their members, including identification or completed paperwork. Orientation can also help managers introduce new members or employees to organization policies and procedures. Generally, new member orientation is crucial for membership-based organizations because it:
- Encourages new members to get involved by showing them pathways for engagement such as volunteering
- Acts as an ice breaker for members to meet fellow members (even if they are just other new members)
- Serves as the first step in retaining a member at renewal time by introducing them to member only benefits
- Helps new members become familiar with policies
- Ensures proper paperwork or online form completion
With the combination of MembershipWorks all-in-one membership management software, some personal touches and this list of orientation ideas, your team should be ready to onboard new members in a stress-free manner.
1. Welcome email
Sending out a welcome email full of helpful information is a fast and easy way offer a basic orientation. This message can be automatically sent by membership software. You can relay all of the essential and necessary information you need to share in one neat package. Any PDF file links, digital documents, or additional information can be sent to new members as they join so that they can start taking advantage of their membership right away. See our sample new member welcome email for ideas.
In this way, you and your organization could save time and resources while increasing overall communication. Any questions or concerns can be handled via personal replies and responses. Email replies from members can also be saved to build a new member FAQ page on your website. This can help eliminate repetitive questions from new members.
2. Host a breakfast to welcome new members
Once the pandemic is over, many will be eager to gather in person again. One of the best ways to keep new members excited, positive and ready to take on the world is to feed them. Providing a hearty breakfast buffet for new members during orientation may help keep everyone awake and energetic. In fact, food is a great way for new members to meet each other. Knowing that there are lots of other new members may help ease their nervousness and provide for an easy way to network as well.
Plus, the last thing you want is to see new members dozing off during your onboarding event. When you provide food and beverages, you’re reducing the chance of this happening. Some organizations may not have the space to host such an event, so a separate event space may need to be reserved.
3. Welcome new members on social media, your newsletter and/or email
Consider welcoming new members via social media accounts, like Facebook groups and LinkedIn groups, your blog or your organization’s newsletter. It’s good to ask permission before posting about them, so you may want to add a question confirming assent to your member intake form. Ask your members to upload their headshots or logos to their directory profile so you can then use an image when you welcome them online. If you get many new members at once, you can instead do a group introduction/welcome and each tag member or member business in a group photo. You can use image editing software to create a grid style layout of new member headshots or logos for this purpose. Announcing new members on your various platforms provides a good networking opportunity for both the new member as well as established members who may want to make new connections.
4. Create a welcome committee or mentor program
Being the new person can be a nerve-wracking experience. It can be easy to feel overwhelmed, especially if they’re not familiar with how to use your membership website or where to start engaging with other members. Often these new members may have questions in their mind and are excited to get involved.
Don’t suffer member attrition because you didn’t get new members engaged. Pair current members with new members as a mentor. Create a mentor and a mentee questionnaire to help make good matches. Additionally, you could institute a “new member meetup” either virtually or in person that is solely comprised of new members. This way, members can connect with one another and have a positive association with their membership.
5. Find out who they want to meet or the type of connections they want to make
Do you remember the types of assignments and questions you received on your first days of school? Likely, your teacher handed out a sheet of paper with several common problems. You may have answered about your favorite color, television show or meal.
Though that information might have seemed odd to share with your teacher, it may have helped them understand you better and create assignments geared toward your personal experiences. Membership groups can also follow suit by asking similar questions of their new members during orientation.
But instead of inquiring about their most beloved pet or novel, you’ll want to ask about passions, their goals and anything that is related to your organization’s mission. What do they hope to gain from their affiliation? What issues are they most passionate about? Are they looking to connect with fellow members who have a certain specialty or certification?
By asking these questions, you’re exhibiting interest in your members’ goals and desires. Additionally, the answers you receive could help you ensure that your organization moves in the right direction. For example, do you need to establish one or more special interest groups (SIGs) to help members drill down to the content and people that matter most to them?
6. Welcome with a card or email from the board
Feeling welcomed and appreciated is a great feeling, but many workplaces and organizations overlook it. Put a greater emphasis and focus on widespread welcoming with a full board welcome. Instead of having a single person welcoming the new members, board members could sign a card for each new member at the end of a board meeting or could write a brief email to the member introducing themselves.
7. Create a welcome bag or new member swag
Everyone loves free stuff. Creating a new member swag box or welcome bag is one of many ways you could create a positive impression on new team members. You don’t have to fill these gift baggies with expensive goodies, making this option a cost-effective one. Current members may want to contribute goods or coupons to the bags to promote their own businesses.
Sending a swag bag can be a great way to promote your organization as well. Branded water bottles, stationery supplies, clothing and snacks are all fair game. Consider having your company or organization’s name or logo printed on the merchandise.
Not only will your new members appreciate the handy gifts, but they’ll also be providing free advertising. When those new members are out and about, they may sport their new gear or merchandise. If your company’s logo is printed on those items, others may see it and become interested in learning more.
8. Put together a welcome packet
If you’re running an orientation in-person, some of the above options might not be ideal. For example, a welcome card might be overkill when you’re already planning on speaking with new members in-person. However, if you’ve reserved an event space for your onboarding session, you could opt for several ideas.
For example, if you’re going to host a welcome breakfast, create a welcome packet for each seat. New members can look through any membership policies and regulations at their own pace, and they can also take that info home with them for further study.
9. Create a wow video
If you’ve been longing to get creative with your orientation process, now might be the right time to go ahead and get a little wild. Orientation videos tend to be dry, a little boring and they’re often dated. However, filmmaking technology has come a long way and it’s easier than ever to create a fun video
Your nonprofit can create impressive, wow-inducing videos using their smartphones, laptops, tablets or desktop computers. Essential video editing software is now a standard for most devices, as are cameras.
You could film a short video to highlight the history of the nonprofit, the mission for the club and all the great things that the new member can get out of the organization. Board members or other key volunteers can be recruited to appear with their own short message that can be strung together. The creative choice is ultimately yours, but you’ll want to make sure that the final product makes your new members say, “Wow!”
10. Look into member matchmaking
If you’re accepting more than a couple of new members, it might be worthwhile to look into member matchmaking. You don’t need to create a dating app where members can swipe right or left to find a match — a simple questionnaire can be used to gauge each new members’ personalities, likes and dislikes.
After sorting through member responses, you’ll manually pair the new members with their most compatible match. The partners can then navigate the organization together and can consider attending events as a pair.
11. Create “welcome new member” videos
You could choose to create a personalized welcome video for your new members. You can do a shoutout in the video to address each and every single new member that has joined. Instead of a generic video that everyone receives, this will have a more personal touch. Alternatively, you can record a personal video on your phone for each new member and email it to them.
Keeping the attention of new members is one of the most significant challenges team leaders face when onboarding. Extended emails with tons of attachments are a practical solution, but they can be tedious. When you convert that information into an audio or visual format, you might be able to make things slightly more entertaining. If you’re starting a podcast, you can also consider sharing a few useful episodes that keep your new members engaged.
Orientation is a unique opportunity to express your creativity while also sharing crucial organizational background. When you combine these new member orientation ideas, a solid membership platform and your own talent, you can craft a positive, energizing feeling that new members are bound to gravitate toward.