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Onboarding New Fundraising Ambassadors: 3 Strategies for Nonprofits

Managing your nonprofit is a massive undertaking. Between fundraising, event planning, donor relationships, and funding your mission, there are several strategic projects to manage

Don’t worry! There are several ways that you can lessen the load while expanding your network. One of the best strategies nonprofits can use to lighten their workload is an ambassador program. 

An ambassador program is a fundraising and/or outreach program in which a nonprofit recruits ambassadors to represent their organization, lead peer-to-peer fundraising initiatives, and generate greater awareness for your nonprofit. 

Ambassadors can play a big role in increasing visibility and revenue. According to The Giving Experience study by OneCause, 56% of donors heard about a potential giving opportunity through a friend or family member. With ambassadors, you can strategically expand your network and connect your cause to a large segment of net new donors.

Creating your own ambassador program can seem daunting. But to make it easy, we’ve put together this brief guide to help you get started. A great ambassador program starts with a great onboarding process. This is key to empowering your ambassadors and giving them the skills they need to fundraise with success. 

Here’s three tips to master your onboarding process: 

1. Plan an onboarding event. 

2. Create a mentor program. 

3. Schedule regular check-ins.

We’ll also cover the ambassador selection process so that you select the most qualified candidates. With enthusiastic ambassadors, your onboarding process will run smoothly and your new team members will be ready to represent your nonprofit in no time!

The selection process.

Depending on how you’ve designed your program, ambassadors could be doing anything from conducting peer-to-peer fundraising to securing RSVPs for your upcoming event. Remember, your ambassadors will be the face of your organization, so choose them carefully. 

There are several traits to target in your ambassadors. Here’s what you should look for when selecting your ambassadors: 

  • Previous engagement: The best ambassadors have familiarity with your organization and the work you do. Look for individuals who have previously donated or volunteered with your organization. Past giving behavior and dedication are great indicators of future engagement.
  • Involvement in your community: Ambassadors have the potential to expand your network, so look for individuals who are well-connected in the community. 
  • Passion and free time: Most importantly, find people who are passionate about your cause. In your application or interview, ask the candidate why they want to get involved to determine if they truly care about your mission. You should also assess how much free time that a candidate will have to devote to your cause. 

It’s easy to overlook the selection process and dive right into onboarding your ambassadors, but take the time to be intentional in how and who you select. Then once you find candidates that exemplify what you’re looking for, offer them the role! Thank them, celebrate, and welcome them to your ambassador family.

1. Plan an onboarding event. 

Next up, bringing your ambassadors on board. Your onboarding event is an ideal opportunity to get them excited about the team and fundraising. 

Be sure to outline the goals of the ambassador program early on. If your main goal is to raise awareness about your nonprofit, then each ambassador’s task list will look different than if you were trying to fundraise. 

To run a successful onboarding event, you should: 

  • Create an agenda: An agenda is a helpful way to keep organized and ensure you cover everything with your ambassadors. Agendas can be especially helpful for virtual onboarding because they can reduce video fatigue
  • Get to know your ambassadors: Use the onboarding event to get to know your ambassadors and build relationships. You can also use the onboarding event as an opportunity to gather other helpful information. For example, ask where your ambassadors work to determine if they qualify for any workplace giving programs to maximize impact.
  • Provide materials for the event and beyond: Provide guidebooks, marketing materials, templates, and other helpful resources to help educate and train your ambassadors. This helps them hit the ground running and reduces support time needed to get your ambassadors up to speed.

Your onboarding event is the jumping off point for your ambassadors, so make sure it’s organized, enjoyable, and informative. 

2. Create a mentor program. 

With a mentor program, you can help your ambassadors get up and running as soon as possible. Ideally, experienced ambassadors can help newer ambassadors better understand their roles, leverage proven fundraising strategies, and answer basic program questions.

It’s best to familiarize your new ambassadors with the mentor program during your onboarding event. When launching your mentor program, be sure to: 

  • Connect mentors and mentees based on common interests: When pairing up mentors and mentees, select them based on common interests or characteristics. Shared connections help new ambassadors feel more comfortable asking questions, opening up, and getting familiar with their roles.
  • Have mentors host a tech session: Your ambassadors will likely need to engage with your tech stack. Whether it’s your donation pages, website, donor data, or event registration system, your ambassadors will need to be familiar with this tech. Mentors can host a one-on-one session to walk mentees through the tech they’ll be using.
  • Encourage teamwork: Your mentor program can be a launching pad for your fundraising teams. Your mentor and mentee can share the fundraising responsibilities, and you can even introduce a competition element to motivate each pair!

Effective mentorship means you won’t have to spend time answering minor questions that experienced ambassadors could handle. If a new ambassador has a question about branding, for example, then an experienced ambassador could easily answer them without having to get you involved. 

The mentor program will also give your ambassadors a chance to bond with one another, strengthening your ambassador program overall. It’s a win-win!

3. Schedule regular check-ins.

Even when you’ve completed the onboarding there’s still fine tuning left to do. You should regularly interact with your ambassadors through scheduled check-ins to ensure that everything is going smoothly. Go over these items in your check-ins:

  • Review progress: Discuss ongoing ambassador initiatives and progress. Reviewing progress frequently ensures that ambassadors feel supported and continue to work towards their goals.
  • Provide tips: Check-ins also provide an opportunity for ambassadors to learn. Share tips and strategies that might help ambassadors prepare for upcoming campaigns or activities. Remember to share your expertise!
  • Assess retention: While you won’t need to assess retention at every check-in, it’s important to evaluate how your ambassador is feeling about their commitment and the program. Taking time to ask them how it’s going, and how they are doing, helps show you care about them beyond the fundraising results.

These tips can help you build a lasting relationship with your ambassadors and provide them with useful resources to hit key milestones and drive results. Take advantage of check-ins to get to know your ambassadors better and help make their experience amazing!

The onboarding process for new ambassadors has a lot of moving parts, but a little preparation and the right support system can help your new team members feel welcomed and ready to work. Be sure to thank your ambassadors for all their hard work and dedication when the process ends!


Kelly Velasquez-Hague

Kelly Velasquez-Hague

Kelly Velasquez-Hague brings over 20 years of fundraising, nonprofit management, and sales/marketing experience to her role as the Director of Content Marketing for OneCause. As a member of the OneCause sales and marketing team, Kelly manages all of the company’s content strategy and execution. She is passionate about empowering great missions and loves that her current role allows her to continue to help nonprofits reach new donors raise more funds for their cause. 


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