How to Build an Email List for Nonprofit Organizations in 2021

Looking for ways to grow your email list? Here are 7 ways on how to build an email list for your nonprofit organization.

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How to build an email list

Video transcript ↓

Here’s the deal: Email marketing is not dead. It’s still one of the most effective ways to attract, retain, and build relationships with your donors! You just need to know how to properly leverage it.

This can be achieved by building a solid email list. But, it can also be challenging.

So in this video, you will learn 7 ways on how to build an email list for your nonprofit organization.

Also, I will talk about some bonus tips on how to leverage email marketing for your nonprofit. So stay tuned for that at the end of this video!

I’m Joseph with Anedot, and let’s get started!

As mentioned earlier, email marketing is one of the most cost-effective and reliable tools for nonprofits.

You can ask for donations, bring people to your website, maintain donor relationships, and so much more. It’s a great tactic that we cover more ground in our post, Nonprofit Fundraising in 2021: 4 Tactics You Need To Implement Today.

So yeah, email is an awesome way to grow your nonprofit because it can help you race past all of your fundraising goals.

But just like how a race car needs maintenance to perform at its full potential, your email list needs to be maintained. So therefore, the success of email communication will depend largely on the quality and the size of your email lists.

Now, before talking about growing it, let’s talk about something you shouldn’t do - especially to maintain the quality of your email list.

Do not buy email lists.

Sure, buying it can help you grow it, but it’s a terrible way of getting qualified contacts and it can also increase the chances of getting your emails marked as spam.

It’s very similar to door-to-door sales. Just like how you don’t want a stranger to approach your home and how you wouldn’t open your door for this stranger, emailing people from a purchased email list has the same effect.

Seriously, it has the potential to damage your brand (as one who constantly clogs inboxes with unwanted emails) and if enough people start marking your emails as spam, email clients like Gmail will automatically move your emails to the spam folder.

So, instead of purchasing email lists, you need to grow them organically. This will contribute to its overall quality.

All right, let’s get on with how to build an email list for your nonprofit organization!

1. Offer valuable freebies in exchange for email addresses

How to build an email list by offering valuable freebies

The first tip I have for you is to offer freebies in exchange for email addresses.

If someone came up to you and said “hey, give me your email,” you probably wouldn’t immediately say “all right! Here you go!”

But if they offered some sort of value to you in exchange for your email, there might be a higher chance that you would give out your email address.

So, offer freebies like ebooks or guides or one page PDFs. The best way to set this up is to create a signup landing page on a platform like Wordpress, Squarespace, Wix, Leadpages, or Unbounce.

Then, identify and create a resource that would be valuable to your audience. After that, get set up on an email service provider like Mailchimp or Campaign Monitor. Then, start collecting those emails!

Another great freebie to offer is to send additional blog post content.

For example, you can write a blog post about a certain topic. At the end of the post, you can add a call to action that says something like “Interested in learning more about this? Enter your email here and receive bonus content straight to your inbox!”

2. Provide company updates in your email communication

How to build an email list by providing company updates

Another way to grow your email list is to provide company updates.

This is probably one of the most common ways many organizations collect email addresses. Once someone opts in to receive updates from your nonprofit, you can send them emails that notify them about your new blog posts, new volunteer opportunities, or other noteworthy updates.

These update emails can also be a great way to show off how your organization is constantly improving and staying proactive in your community.

So, when you create a call to action for this type of strategy, try to be creative with your copy.

For example, instead of the call to action being something generic like “Join the newsletter” write something more specific like, “Sign up to receive email updates on our work and ways to get involved.”

Or something more captivating like, “Join the fight and receive updates on how you can create change.”

The goal is to make your CTA more compelling, so that people will be more likely to sign up.

3. Use social media to build your email list

How to build an email list by using social media

Use your social media channels to build your email list.

On your social channels, be sure to make a plug about joining your email list. One of the perfect ways to do this is to make a plug about your freebies on your social media channels.

For example, if I had a freebie that is a guide on email marketing - within this video, that’s hosted on YouTube, I would say something like: “hey guys, if you want to learn more about email marketing, I have a guide all about it. Click the link the description below to get access to that guide for free!”

You can make a plug about your freebie anywhere, like your Facebook page. You can use your Facebook cover photo to promote your freebie by adding some engaging copy and a link to your freebie landing page directly in the cover photo.

You can also promote your freebie or just your standard email signup form or landing page on Instagram. You can use a service like Linktree to add your email signup landing page to your Instagram bio. Or, you can include a CTA at the end of your Instagram carousel posts.

The possibilities are endless with social media marketing. The goal here is to add your email signup landing page wherever you can.

The more opportunities you provide for people to sign up, the more people will sign up!

4. Utilize a simple contact us form

How to build an email list with a contact form

If you have a contact us form somewhere on your website, include a little checkbox on the bottom of your form that says something like “subscribe to our newsletter” or “get monthly updates on our nonprofit.”

This is a simple and great way to grab emails from qualified people.

It’s simple because all they have to do is click on a checkmark to opt in to your email list, and it’s a great way to grab emails from qualified people because these people are already contacting your nonprofit to learn more about it or to get in touch with you.

Now, make sure this action stays simple. One click should be all it takes to get this done.

5. Host events to collect email addresses

How to build an email list by hosting events

Now let’s talk about hosting events, online or in-person. Online events are probably the most cost-effective, and there are a lot of virtual fundraising ideas to consider.

For example, you can offer a free webinar or some sort of online event that will provide people with valuable, free information. To sign up for the event, you can create a simple form that includes a field to enter their email address.

You can even try to host webinars with other like-minded people or organizations as well. This will help you grab quality emails from people that are following the other organization.

If you want to ask for donations during these online events, you can definitely do that as well. This way, you are killing two birds with one stone! You are offering a free webinar, and in exchange you will receive email addresses and online donations.

And if you hold an in-person event, try testing out this tactic to grab more email addresses. Bring a glass bowl or some sort of container where folks can drop in their business cards.

These business cards will contain email addresses which you can later manually enter into your email database.

→ Check out our YouTube video on important things to consider when hosting a virtual fundraiser

6. Create lead generation ads

How to build an email list with lead generation ads

Another way to grow your email list is to create lead generation ads. This is typically done on Facebook or LinkedIn.

A perk to this is that you don’t even need to create a landing page for these types of ads. All people have to do is click on the ad and within the platform itself, whether it’s Facebook or LinkedIn, they’ll be able to leave their contact information.

You can target specific demographics and interests with digital ads, which will help you collect email addresses from qualified people.

Lead generation ads are also a great way to reach new audiences and build more awareness with those who haven’t met you yet.

7. Offer discounts in exchange for email addresses

How to build an email list with discounts

Does your nonprofit have a storefront?

If your organization sells apparel or has some sort of retail operation, include offers where people can get a discount of their first order in exchange for their email address.

This is a great incentive because they will save money.

By utilizing this tactic, you may be able to increase sales, which will help you raise more money at the end of the day.

Bonus tips: 4 ways to leverage email marketing

How to build an email list with effective email marketing

Well, those are the 7 tips on how to build an email list!

It’s important to note that you need to have patience when building your list. It will take time. And some of the strategies that I mentioned will not work for every organization.

So, test out a couple of these strategies and utilize the ones that work best for your organization.

All right, so as I mentioned in the beginning of this video, I have some bonus tips to help your nonprofit leverage email marketing to the fullest potential.

Before I get to that, be sure to like this video, and for more tips on how to build your organization’s donor base, subscribe to Anedot on YouTube and follow us on social media.

Now, let’s get to it. Here are 4 ways you can leverage email marketing!

1. Welcome new email subscribers

First off, make sure your first email is welcoming.

Never have the first contact be about donating to your organization.

To make your life easier, you can also automate this email so that you don’t have to manually send emails to every single person who gave out their email address.

You can do that through most email service providers, like Mailchimp!

2. Ask for donations in your emails

Second, ask for donations. Once you establish a relationship with multiple emails, then you can ask for a donation by writing a fundraising letter.

Include a compelling reason to support your cause, a summary of what you’ll do with the donations, and a clear call-to-action.

As a word of caution, make sure these types of emails are not the only kind you’re sending. Also, make sure you’re not overwhelming your email list with donation requests.

Not sure how to get started with asking for donation requests? Learn how to ask for donations!

3. Use email segmentation

Third, make sure you use email segmentation.

Should everyone receive the same type of emails? Probably not right? Your emails need to be targeted so that you can see better results and so that subscribers can have a better email experience.

You can organize your subscribers into different lists like: major donors, non-donors, event attendees, volunteers, and more.

The point is to make sure that your emails are personalized as possible because personalized emails can increase click-through rates.

4. Send a thank you email after a donation

Fourth, send thank you emails to those who donate to your organization.

Gratitude is a great attitude to have if you desire to maintain strong donor relationships.

So, after someone makes a gift, no matter how big or small, make sure you send them a message of appreciation.

Closing thoughts

How to build an email list closing

Well, that’s it!

Be sure to check out our videos on How To Build a Monthly Membership Program and Nonprofit Fundraising in 2021: 4 Tactics You Need To Implement Today to learn how to take your nonprofit fundraising to the next level.

Once again, I am Joseph with Anedot and I’ll see you in the next one!

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