Finding a nonprofit website that tells us WHY it’s a good deal for us to share our email address is rare . . . about as rare as finding a perfect gemstone.

A statement such as, Sign-Up Here, sounds more like a parental command than an invitation:

 “But why should I sign-up?” … web visitor
 “Because I said so.  Besides, it should be obvious.” … tone of nonprofit website

Here are 3 examples from nonprofit websites that do NOT give intriguing reasons or benefits for signing up:

Enter your email address below
Click here to receive periodic emails and updates
Get newsletters and e-alerts

None of those examples have a benefit to the prospect, donor, or member.  What type of information will they receive?  Why will it be interesting?  How will it help them (donors) to help your mission?  Etc.

Here is a positive example from Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation, (and yes, I wrote it for them).  In the statement below the phrase, “Join our email list” is a hyperlink to their newsletter sign-up form.  I just wish this copy was “above the fold” (visible without any scrolling):

Join our email list to receive occasional updates, photos and stories about the joy and fulfillment you bring to students across the country.  

It doesn’t have to be long.  A short sentence; a few phrases are all that’s needed.  This simple edit to your website will encourage more people to share their email address with you.  And that’s important because it’s another opportunity to raise funds, cultivate, keep people engaged, build loyalty and retention, and on it goes.

Few more tips regarding your email / e-newsletter sign-up box on your website:

1 – Again, give a good reason WHY we ought to sign-up.  What do WE get out of the deal?

2 – Have it on every page of your website (a special landing page for a major campaign is one possible exception).

3 – Locate it ABOVE the fold so web visitors see it without scrolling down.

4 – Ideally it’s a one-step process.  They type in their email address and hit “subscribe” or something like it.  With some email service providers this isn’t possible.  You may need to send them to another page with the vendor’s sign-up form.  That’s two steps and it shouldn’t be any more than that!

Remember: Donors, prospects, members and other supporters of your nonprofit don’t know your organization inside out like you do.  They don’t have your history.  They don’t know what you’ve been sharing in past emails. 

Tell web visitors why it’s a good deal for THEM to sign-up for your nonprofit newsletter.  Then make certain you do provide useful, donor-centric content in your email communications.  Be a gem.

{ 7 trackbacks }

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Jocelyn Harmon January 25, 2011 at 12:37 pm


I am SOOO with you! Most npos sign-ups are just awful! Where’s the benefit exchange? Why, why, why, why, why (that’s 5 whys) should I care? Ugh!


Karen Zapp, copywriter January 25, 2011 at 1:44 pm


It’s obvious you’re passionate about the point I made in today’s post. 🙂

When they work with it day in and day out, npo’s can’t see the forest for the trees. It’s just so hard to have an outsider’s perspective … to recognize what’s important to us and why we deserve a good incentive for signing up, giving, or doing anything else. The incentive might be simply explaining how we’ll make a difference.

This dilemma prevails in sign-up boxes, emails, web copy, direct mail letters, Tweets, everywhere. (Sigh.)

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