Woman on her laptop reviewing nonprofit email list tips

While email marketing is a very powerful part of any digital marketing strategy, it’s especially important for nonprofits. It keeps people informed about the work your organization does, advertises volunteer or fundraising events, and drives donations. In this article, we’ll discuss how to grow your nonprofit email list.

In 2017, email drove nearly 1/3 of all online fundraising revenue.

There are also proven ways to turn your email subscribers into donors. So whether you’re looking to increase engagement or drive donations, email marketing is proven to get results.

But what if your nonprofit email list is small, leaving you with a limited audience? How do you get more email subscribers? We have 10 time-tested methods to help build mailing lists for nonprofits.

How to Get More Email Subscribers

1. Make it Easy to Join Your List

When asking readers to do something, it’s important to make it as easy as possible. Make sure your email signup box is visible on your homepage and on your website’s footer. You can also add it to the call-to-action in your blog posts.

If you have social media channels, make sure to regularly include links to your nonprofit email list that prompt your followers to sign up. Certain channels such as Facebook allow you to add a “Signup” option on your Business Page. You can easily boost new sign-ups to your nonprofit email list by adding this option to your social platforms.

2. Offer a Lead Magnet

Getting people to sign up for your nonprofit email list can be difficult. Most people are hesitant to give out their email addresses, especially if there is nothing in it for them. However, they’re much less hesitant if you provide something of value in return for their email address, like a lead magnet, also known as a freebie.

Reports, eBooks, and PDFs like checklists and cheat sheets are common, effective lead magnets. The lead magnet you offer will depend on your organization and what you can provide your readers. Ideas for nonprofit lead magnets:

  • For an education nonprofit: a list of the best age-appropriate books for each grade
  • For a museum: a scavenger hunt for your museum
  • For an animal welfare nonprofit: a list of ways to help animals without spending any money

3. Provide Clear Value

It’s important to tell people why they should sign up for your nonprofit email list. What kind of emails do you send? How often do your emails go out? This information can make or break someone’s decision to sign up, and if you don’t tell them about the value in your emails, they’ll likely pass on giving you their email address.

To do this, you don’t have to write a long lead-in to the signup box. Simply phrase your ask so it’s clear there is value in the emails you send. Examples:

  • Sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date with the fight against poaching.
  • Want to learn more about how you can help fight hunger in the Triangle? Sign up for our newsletter!
  • Join our email list to get the latest news on community cleanups in Raleigh!

4. Collect Email Addresses at Events

Sometimes low-tech is one of the most effective ways to get a job done! Face-to-face networking is still one of the most impactful ways of making a connection. Every time you host, speak at or attend an event, you need to be ready to connect.

You should always have a way for people to sign up for your nonprofit email list at events. This can be as simple as a clipboard and pen or as high-tech as a tablet for people to type in their own emails. You can make it completely voluntary or require it for event registration, just make sure people understand that by giving you their email address, they will be added to your mailing list.

5. Create a Subscribe Graphic to Share on Social Media

Social media can also help boost your newsletter subscriber count – and it may even drive donations or peer-to-peer fundraising! So how can you use your social media platforms to build your nonprofit email list? Make and share an image with a clear call to action!

It’s easy for your message to get lost in the shuffle on social media but an eye-catching graphic like the example below reduces the chances someone will scroll by without reading. Post your graphic with an enticing message about your newsletter and a link to your signup page. And don’t forget to pin the tweet or post to the top of your profile!

example of graphic for email subscribers

6. Require an Email Address as Part of Membership

If your organization has a membership program, make proving sure an email address is part of becoming a member. This makes it easy for you to keep in touch, but also gives you plenty of subscribers for your newsletter.

7. Update Your Email Signature

You send dozens of emails every week and each one can be turned into an opportunity to gain more subscribers. Your email signature should have a link to your organization’s homepage, but it’s also wise to add a link to your email newsletter signup page. For people that aren’t already subscribed, this provides an easy way for them to sign up to hear from your organization on a regular basis.

8. Encourage Forwarding and Sharing

This is a simple, time-tested method to get more eyes on your content and ultimately, more subscribers. Just include a short sentence toward the end of your emails encouraging readers to forward the newsletter to a friend or colleague that would be interested.

9. Hold a Contest or Giveaway

Having a contest and requiring an email address as part of entry is a great way to get more email subscribers and overall publicity for your organization. You don’t have to give away anything major, either. T-shirts and other swag with your nonprofit’s logo are great giveaway prizes! Just ensure that people understand they’ll be added to your email list when they enter. No one likes getting unwanted mail.

10. Add a Popup Window to Your Site

An opt-in popup window on your website can be a very effective way to get more subscribers. A number of case studies show that sites that use popups see a huge increase in subscribers, some seeing as high as a 1000% increase! The key to effective popups is making sure they only appear on a few pages of your website (never put a popup on every page), are visually appealing, and are easy to close out.

Nonprofit Email List Best Practices

If you’ve built even a small nonprofit email list, you’ll eventually need to start sending content. So, how do you know what types of content to send to your subscribers, how to manage it, and how much information to pack into the newsletter? These quick best practices should help you get a better grasp on how to create content that your subscribers will love.

  • Ensure your newsletter is mobile-friendly.
  • Keep it brief & use images wisely.
  • Develop a layout template.
  • Stay on-brand, in terms of voice & designs.
  • Make it easy to read!
  • Include donation buttons & sign-up links.

Nonprofit Newsletter Content Creation

You’ve collected your leads and now it’s time to actually create the content for your newsletter. Here are a few more useful tips to keep in mind when crafting copy that your users will stay subscribed to:

  • Optimize your subject line. Your subject line can increase open rates! Highlight the point of the newsletter and emphasize urgency using powerful, emotion-packed verbs.
  • Build trust with branding. Include your organization’s name in each email subject, or choose an appointed point of contact for a more personal touch.
  • Tell a story! This is the most powerful way of getting subscribers to take action. Keep it short and sweet, but be descriptive. It’s time to tug on heartstrings!
  • Have a clear call to action. Without a clear ask, your reader won’t take action. Make sure to prompt donations, sign-ups, or RSPVs in each newsletter. Highlight these action items with eye-catching buttons.

Nonprofit Email List FAQs

How many emails should my nonprofit send each month?

According to the Nonprofit Communications Trends Report for 2018, nonprofits are sending an average of three email newsletters and two fundraising or advocacy appeals each month. The frequency at which you send content to your subscribers depends on your audience and how often you have relevant, quality content to send to your mailing list.

What types of content should I send to my nonprofit email list?

Your email newsletter should contain relevant content that either informs or inspires. Subscribers will likely want to learn about recent company updates, any major events, or volunteer and donation opportunities.

Improve the Way Your Organization Handles Donations

Growing an email list typically means an increase in members and donations. Our nonprofit accounting software solutions can improve the way you manage donors and your entire accounting process. To learn more, call us at  (843) 971-9061 or fill out the form below!

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