One thing I’ve noticed is that, although every organization wants to get lots of new members… they’re not always sure what to do once they have them.
What does that mean?
Well, joining an association or club is an exciting time for new members. Often, they’re eager to jump in, learn about the organization, and find out how they can contribute.
Unfortunately, though, many organizations don’t have a set new member onboarding method to follow.
This means new members can quickly become overwhelmed with questions like:
Who do I contact for my membership card?
Am I required to fulfill volunteer hours?
When is the annual meeting?
Is there a member website?
...And the list goes on!
If you’re anything like the other organizations we work with, you’re likely operating with limited staff, a tight budget, and possibly even volunteer support — meaning fielding the sheer number of questions isn’t always possible.
And that’s why creating a strong new member welcome packet is so important.
They’re an association or club’s first tool to excite new members and inform them of their commitment.
And putting thought into the creation and execution of the packet doesn’t just ensure happy members. It also makes your job as group leader easier in the long run.
It can take the pressure off your staff and volunteers by giving new members the ability to access key information without needing them to be on call.
Plus, it allows new members to explore more information about your organization at their own pace, so they can come back to it without getting overwhelmed.
In this post, I’ve put together the ultimate list of contents for new member welcome packets to help you prepare your members for their new role in your association or club.
And if you’re looking for more advice on new member onboarding, join our webinar with membership expert Amanda Kaiser on June 24th!
10 Essentials for New Member Welcome Packets
1. Keep it Organized.
Using a table of contents gives members a glimpse at what you included in the new member packet. It also allows for easy navigation so they can flip back and forth between the parts they’re most interested in.
2. Make Them Feel Welcome.
What would you prefer: a generic letter, or one that used your name and thanked you?
Little touches go a long way in making members feel like they’re a vital part of something special.
Make your new members feel welcome with a friendly, personalized greeting. Address them by name, thank them for choosing your organization, give them a broad sense of the perks of membership, and once again outline what’s included in the packet.
3. Help Them Stay in Contact.
Arguably, the single most important thing you provide your members is your association’s contact information.
Otherwise, how will they know who to reach out to when they’re learning the ropes?
While some organizations add this to the welcome letter, I’ve find it’s best to put all vital contacts on one single page so that new members can easily have it on hand to refer to. If possible, add email links for your digital copies for easy navigation.
Some things to include are:
Association’s physical address
Association’s main email address
Names, roles, and contact information for contacts
Other essential volunteers such as committee leads
4. Tell Your Story.
Stories incite emotions and connect us all to the people, places, groups, and other things that matter most.
And guess what? Whether your association is decades old or brand new, it has a story — and that’s something new members love to hear.
Use this section of your packet to get your new members up-to-date on your association or club’s unique story and build a connection. You can include the history of your organization and how it got to where it is today, as well as your mission statement and any values that you follow.
Finally, include a 30-second elevator pitch. That way it’ll be easy for your new members to educate and inspire others if they’re asked about their exciting new organization!
5. What’s the Benefit?
You know your organization provides tons of great perks to members — so why not showcase them loud and clear?
For clarity, use a bulleted list, spreadsheet, or graph to highlight these benefits.
6. Keep Them In Line
New members will naturally want to know: what kind of rules and regulations do they need to follow?
Depending on the kind of organization you manage, regulations will vary. However, your new member welcome packet should include the following:
Membership fees and how to pay (include a payment processing website or dues mailing address)
Relevant laws or member obligations, such as mandatory volunteer hours
Official code of conduct
Conflict of interest information
How to sign up for committees
7. All Filled Out
If there are any forms that your association needs from members, such as an official membership form, conflict of interest document, or volunteer interest survey, include this in the final packet.
8. Membership Card
Many associations use physical membership cards, either paper or plastic, as another benefit to membership. Although it doesn’t seem like much on the surface, membership cards help build your organization’s brand recognition, reminds your members of your group’s value, and even serves as an industry-level identification for conferences and other events.
Although physical cards are easier to keep track of, if you send out a digital new member welcome packet, you can also include a link to print out a membership card.
9. Save the Date
If you’re anything like me, your agenda starts filling up a few months in advance.
That’s why it’s so key to get your events on members’ calendars as soon as possible.
Plus, new members are likely to be gung-ho about attending and getting involved — so the more events you can tell them about, the better!
10. A Little Something Extra
Whatever your personal opinion is, many members love swag with your club’s logo.
(I can personally vouch for this — I’ve definitely worn my writing club’s shirt a few times at the gym!)
Throwing a keychain, t-shirt, or bumper sticker into your new member packet may not seem like the best use of money, but remember that it’s little things like this that help excite your members and also increase your brand exposure.
What Else to Consider When Preparing a New Member Welcome Packet
So you’ve compiled your list and checked it twice as far as the content of your onboarding package goes… but there are still a few questions that might come up as you put it all together.
Before sending out your next new member welcome packet, take a few seconds to review this list and see if you’ve crossed everything off your list.
1. Online or offline?
In the past, new member packets were printed, arranged in a large envelope or folder, and either delivered in-person or through direct mail to members.
However, I’ve recently seen a lot more organizations transitioning to digital ones, with everything included in PDF format.
The method you choose depends on the expectations of your member base and budget — but keep in mind that receiving a physical packet is often more exciting and meaningful. If you do decide to go the digital route, remember that it’s impossible to send some contents, such as “swag” digitally, so save these for your next event or meeting.
2. How often do you need to update it?
This really depends on the information you’re sending along. Keeping your event calendar up-to-date is key, but as long as the other rules and regulations you’re adding aren’t changing, the packet can stay relatively similar.
Still, it’s probably best to designate a specific month for this task on your organizational calendar, and get buy-in from all staff and key volunteers at your association or club for their feedback.
3. What do your current members think?
Your current members were once newbies too — meaning they know better than anyone what you should be including.
So, as you’re fine-tuning your new member packet, don’t hesitate to ask for feedback from them. Better yet, incorporate a question about the new member packet in a member survey.
4. Are there any questions you haven’t thought of?
In an ideal world, your new member packet will answer every single question and motivate your new members at the same time.
But even with all the preparation in the world, there’s sure to be other questions you hadn’t thought of.
So, make note of these extra questions, and be sure to add them to future packet iterations. You could potentially also add an FAQ section to your welcome packet (or your website) if you notice there are a few that come up again and again.
5. Did you say thanks?
Put yourself in your new members’ shoes. What would motivate you more:
On the surface, a new member packet answers questions and gives new members a head start into your organization’s world.
But that doesn’t have to be its only purpose.
Instead, use your new member packet to inspire your members and make them feel invested in the group. Be sure to thank your members for choosing to join and share success stories from other members. Above all, let your members know that you care about them and appreciate their presence!
What do you include in your new members’ welcome packets? Let me know in the comments if there’s anything I missed!