Expand Your Not-for-Profit’s Email List

Emails have become a sweet spot for many not-for-profits that falls between old-fashioned direct mail and today’s ever-so-popular text messages.

Email campaigns are relatively easy to organize and execute. And, because most of your target audience may feel comfortable with emailing, it’s a convenient way to drive up donations and receive insightful feedback.

So what’s the optimal approach for email management? Consider these ten suggestions:

1. Your website: Typically, the first place people turn if they don’t know much about your organization is its website. Ensure yours provides all the information they need and, most important, offers a signup form for emails. You need to collect only the bare essentials: name and email address. Be clear with those who do sign up about what they can expect from your emails.

2. Pop-ups and external links: These are really part and parcel of your website. But they deserve special attention because of their importance. Pop-ups are a fast and easy way to induce website visitors to sign up for emails.

Caveat: Although pop-ups can be effective, they can also be annoying. So limit their usage to just the signup page. Similarly, you can link to an external site for the purpose of registering email addresses. But if you notice traffic decreasing with the use of external links or pop-ups, consider abandoning the strategy.

3. Supporters’ fundraising pages: Online fundraising isn’t limited to not-for-profits. Supporters may pitch in by creating their own fundraising pages for your group and sharing them with friends, family and business associates. This can create a huge multiplier effect. If one supporter reaches out to 10 people who reach out to another 10 people, you can see how this can burgeon into hundreds of email addresses. Make sure you have the technology in place to capture all this information.

4. Social media: Cultivating a presence on social media platforms lets your group continue to build relationships, engage donors in conversations, encourage greater commitments and gather email addresses. You could embed a button on your Facebook page, or on other social media profiles, leading directly to an email signup form.

5. Blogging: Blogging can help to make your name and group’s name more prominent. And it can have a ripple effect: Encouraging comments on your blog can lead to discussions with people who may become significant supporters. The blog should offer a signup form or link to your website so visitors can provide their email addresses.

6. Educational resources: If you produce publications or other educational materials, look for logical tie-ins to obtaining email addresses. For instance, if you run an environmental not-for-profit, you might release a new report on the environment that interested parties can download from your website. To complete the download, however, users must provide their email addresses.

7. Cross-promotions: If you regularly provide content, consider a cross-promotion with another organization. For example, with that environmental report, you could involve local civic groups, religious organizations or other groups that would share the information with their members — or even hold an event related to the report. Should they do so, you can then capture the names of their supporters and expand your email list.

8. Public events: Your not-for-profit may sponsor or host various events during the year that draw attention to your cause. Don’t be shy about collecting email addresses from those who attend, whether they participate in the event (for example, a 5K walk and run) or are merely spectators. If you give away swag, make sure the recipients provide their email addresses to get the goodies.

9. Petitions: This classic grass roots method is still a valuable tool for some organizations. But petitions don’t have to be limited to just signatures. Even on a paper petition, you can include a space for email addresses.

10. Contests: Everyone wants to be a winner. If contests and similar promotions are part of your annual fundraising strategy, be sure to include a space for email addresses on the signup forms.

Note: Some people won’t want to receive information from your organization, so give them a chance to opt out of receiving emails. You’ll likely find, however, that many don’t choose to opt out.

Try to think outside the box when expanding your email list. Don’t leave out ways that rely on advanced technology. Email is still the most viable approach for reaching supporters, so it’s worthwhile to focus efforts on increasing the number of addresses on your list.

Link Snail Mail to Email

Does your organization still conduct the bulk of its fundraising through direct mail?

If so, there’s no real need to change — especially if snail mail has proved successful. But you might want to broaden your horizons.

Take this simple step: On the postcard or other response card you use in your direct-mail campaigns, include an extra line for an email address. Some recipients will ignore it, but many won’t.

Updating good old-fashioned direct mail in this manner can help bring your organization a little further into the realm of high-tech fundraising.

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