Part 2 – 18 ways to build your nonprofit email list

in Email,Integrated Multichannel Fundraising & Marketing

You’ll find the first nine (9) ways to build your nonprofit email list in my last post. Below are numbers ten through eighteen plus links to other helpful related posts.

Building your nonprofit email list (Cartoon used with permission)

10 – Whenever a donor, member or supporter calls your nonprofit, have your call center invite them to share their email address. (Refer to method #1 in previous post to have better success with this.)

11 – Include an email sign-up on search landing pages and make it very visible.

If someone has searched on a topic and ends up on your nonprofit website, there’s a good chance they’ll be receptive to receiving more info via email on that topic.

12 – Utilize third party resources such as Care2 and

13 – Your email service provider should have a way for subscribers to easily share (the email they just received from you) on social networks and by forwarding your email with a single click. Enable this “share” feature on every email sent. And from time-to-time add ad line or two within the email encouraging subscribers to share.

Perhaps there’s even a way you can give subscribers an incentive to share (e.g., a special report or sneak preview).

14 – Format your email to be mobile friendly (i.e., readable on smartphones and tablets).

15 – Integrate with other channels. For example:

> Support direct mail with email follow-ups

> Post social media updates that link to same landing page as the email but with separate trackable links.

> Send text messages to your nonprofit supporters that link to same landing page as the email but with separate trackable links.

16 – Analyze your email data to monitor trends; what’s working and what isn’t in terms of messaging, days of the week you mail, etc.; why subscribers are leaving and how can you minimize this; what they respond to the most; and periodically encourage subscribers to give you feedback and update their preferences.

17 – Keep subscribers engaged. The secret here is to get them engaged with one of the first two or three emails you send them. Optimize their front-end experience and then move them up to the next tier of engagement over time.

18 – Deliver quality content that’s relevant, personalized, and of value to your subscribers. In this case THEIR opinion on what is relevant and of value is the opinion that counts … not yours. Number 18 is as fundamental and crucial as method number 1 of how to build an email subscriber list.

Nothing earth-shattering in that list; and probably not anything new. But it’s important enough to warrant a reminder.

How are you building your nonprofit email list? What else can we add to this list? Please share in the comment box below.

{ 2 trackbacks }

18 Ways To Build Your Nonprofit Email List | The Agitator - Fundraising, Direct Marketing and Advocacy Strategies for Nonprofits
February 14, 2012 at 12:01 am
3 Critical Factors of Nonprofit Email — Karen Zapp - Nonprofit Copywriter
March 15, 2012 at 2:15 pm

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

claire axelrad February 22, 2012 at 3:09 am

Great post on an important topic. I’ve used list-building quizzes online. It works best when you make the quiz fun/quirky/amusing and eminently shareable. When folks answer the first question, they get their answer and are asked to enter in their email to continue. Added quite a few emails this way! It’s also a great opportunity for a sponsor (e.g., a business that would like to get their name out. You can say “for everyone who takes the quiz, SYTRY business will donate $10 up to $5K”)

Karen Zapp, copywriter February 22, 2012 at 11:37 am


Great idea about building a list with quizzes. Thanks for sharing.

Caroline M March 7, 2012 at 6:34 am

This blog has really given me food for thought, I’d be curious to know Karen what you feel are Darn Good Reasons for me to give my email! The service that my charity provides is largely accessed through our website. We don’t create any barriers (ie data capture) to people accessing the information though there are levels that I am looking at – free downloads etc. As the fundraising manager I want to build our database and ask those that we have helped to pay it forward. They’re the ones who best understand the impact of the problems that we address! It’s capturing that information and communicating back to people with disparate issues that’s a challenge – and intriguing too!
Claire, I loved your quiz idea too.

Karen Zapp, copywriter March 7, 2012 at 11:51 am

Hi Caroline,

To answer your question … “darn good reasons” can vary from nonprofit to nonprofit. But they center on what the subscriber gets out of the deal. What valuable information (from their perspective) will you be sharing? How does it make their life better? And are you sharing stories about the people donors are helping, tips, videos, progress updates on a major project, stories from the news, etc.?

Here’s another post I wrote on this subject:

Your other comment about asking “…those that we have helped to pay it forward,” is another topic. I offer to cover that in another post or perhaps in my newsletter. If you would send me a bit more information on this communication challenge I’d be happy to respond.

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