Daily Buzz: What the Best Onboarding Programs Have in Common

A solid onboarding strategy can improve member retention rates. Successful programs include three key elements. Also: how reminders can hurt your team.

New-member onboarding doesn’t stop once they’ve received a welcome letter in the mail. To prove your association’s value—and increase the chance of renewal in the future—your organization needs a solid onboarding program.

The problem: Once dues are paid, associations often don’t do enough to make new members feel welcome.

“Associations tend to have very robust renewal programs, but meager new-member onboarding programs,” says Amanda Kaiser on the Wild Apricot blog. Those organizations that do prioritize onboarding, she says, have three elements in common:

Start early. “Organizations have a three-day to three-week window of opportunity to first engage each new member,” Kaiser says. “That’s because new members want to know as soon as possible how the organization can help them, what the value is, and most importantly, they want to confirm they did not make a mistake in joining.”

Plan out messaging and make a timeline. Kaiser says that onboarding plans with scripted and dated communications have higher success rates than those whose emails are impromptu. So, know what you’re going to say and when to say it.

Revisit your program regularly and make changes as needed. “New member onboarding programs should perform better each year,” Kaiser says. “Why? Because program managers measure the success of each message and re-create the ones that perform poorly.” Audit your program twice a year, making tweaks as needed, and see how it affects your new-member renewal rate.

Reminder: Send fewer Reminders

We’re all human, and sometimes we forget things. In the workplace, it’s common to send out reminders to avoid any such mishaps. But these types of notices can also cause tension among employees.

“Even if a reminder is well-intentioned, the underlying connotation can be, ‘I don’t quite trust you to handle this like an adult, so I’m going to hold your hand to make sure you don’t screw this up,’” says Wanda Thibodeaux on Inc. “It’s pretty dang hard for someone to return trust if you won’t hand it out first, and when you passive-aggressively communicate that you think someone has a lack of capability, it can do a real number on a person’s self-esteem.”

Instead of sending reminders, Thibodeaux recommends aggregating all critical reminders and sending to the whole team. You can also empower employees with the training or tools they need to remember deadlines or tasks on their own.

Other Links of Note

Get a GRPI! That’s no typo—the Bloomerang blog explains how goals, roles, processes and interpersonal relationships can take your nonprofit team to the next level.

What’s in a name? CMSWire outlines why words matter in branding.

All good things come to an end. Nonprofit Hub breaks down how to know when to dissolve your organization.

(FTiare/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Jeff Hsin

By Jeff Hsin


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