5 Tips to Build Your NonProfit Email List

To turn a supporter into and advocate, and then eventually a donor, you need to have multiple points of contact with that person. Of course there will always be the family member or close friend who looks at your site once and makes a donation, but for the most part, you can plan on “kissing” potential donors at least 4 to 6 times before they open their wallet for your cause. That’s why having an email marketing mailing list is so important to your nonprofit.

You can use any analytics package (we recommend Google Analytics) to track visits to your site, find out where those readers are coming from, and even who stays there the longest. But what your analytics package doesn’t do is get that viewer to come back for more. That’s where the email marketing list comes in.

By capturing the email address of your visitors (online and offline) you gain the opportunity to send that person a message long after they’ve left your website or place of business. Some “experts” will tell you the more people on your list the more donations you can expect – guaranteed. At OrgSpring, we don’t think of email marketing as a pure numbers game. You still need to produce quality content and educate and inform your readers on a consistent basis.

If you can combine content creation and quality advocacy with the five email list generating tips below, you should be able to grow your email list dynamically, and see a solid increase in online engagement and donations.

 

1) Incentivize Your Readers

Thing incentives and contests are just for big brands? Not by a long shot. One OrgSpring client ran an online contest with a popular family blog, giving away an HD Video Camera in exchange for an email signup and Tweet about the nonprofit. The camera was donated by a local business, so the net cost was zero to the nonprofit. The blog received over 200 entrants in just a few days, and between the post and the social media exposure the nonprofit grew its list by over 300 members in under one week.

2) Social Media

If you’re not taking advantage of social media yet, you are missing out on potential supporters. With over 800 million people on Facebook (and an adoption rate of nearly 90% for adults aged 18-29), 400 million users on Twitter, and 100 million users Google +, your future advocates are waiting to discover your message.

There are 3 main things to consider when using social media to build your email list.

  1. When you link back to your site from a social media post, make sure there is an email signup form on that first page the viewer will see. Chances are they’ll visit just to read the post highlighted in the tweet or Facebook share, so you need to get your form in front of the reader right away.
  2. In every email you currently send out, make sure to include a way for readers to share that email, or the posts within it. Most email marketing programs do this for you. For nonprofits, we especially recommend Constant Contact for it’s social sharing plugins.
  3. Make sure your website is optimized for social media sharing. For example, you can see links above in our header, which get you to our main social media streams, and below every post (and some pages) you can share that content directly to your own social media streams. This is important because people want to share your content as they’re reading it, or just after reading it. They’re probably not going to come back a day later to share. It’s going to happen there and then, and you want to make it as easy as possible for that reader to share.

3) Strategic Partnerships

Always work to build relationships with businesses (nonprofit and for-profit) that are complementary to yours. For example: a  nonprofit school will be well served connecting with local PTA’s, influential teachers, and even local tutors. You can help promote each other in your respective newsletters, by giving official endorsements, and by commenting on each other’s websites and blogs.

One OrgSpring client, No Limits Theater Group, reached out Paul Mitchell to give their deaf kids a day at the Paul Mitchell Salon Schools. That relationship blossomed and resulted in more than $100,000 in donations for No Limits, amazing publicity, and some pretty fun events for the kids. Paul Mitchell Schools connected with a new demographic and earned a few new supporters among the friends and families of No Limits, a national nonprofit.

Remember to ask your partnership companies to feature your promotional material in their place of business too – which is a great segue to the #4 Tip to build your nonprofit email marketing list.

NonProfit QR Code - OrgSpring.com

Create a QR Code for your Website

4) Offline and In-Person

Remember to promote your email newsletter in all your printed collateral including business cards, brochures, advertisements, sales kits, and direct mail. Make sure to include some simple text linking back to your site, or directly to your newsletter signup form.

If you don’t have enough room to include your full URL, use a link shortening service like goo.gl or bit.ly. Or better yet, include a QR code in addition to a text link. QR codes are increasing in popularity, and becoming more commonplace in advertising. They are easy to create, and very easy for your supporters to scan using a smart phone. QR offer instant access to your marketing message, and can be created for any web page with a valid URL.

To create a QR code for your link, try Google’s Free QR Creator. You’ll get a result like the picture you see to the right. You can simply copy the link it produces and use that as an embedded picture in your printed materials, and even on your blog. In the example above, we’ve hyperlinked the QR code to our site should a user click on it, but if you scan it with your smartphone you’ll also be taken directly to our website.

5) Don’t Forget About Foot Traffic

McDonald’s is famous for asking “Do you want fries with that?” The direct result of asking that question was an increase in fry sales and overall company revenue. The same company reinvented the fry question when it asked if you wanted to “Supersize” your meal. For retailers, it’s known as the “upsell” and you can practice this in your nonprofit as well. Except here, you’re not selling fries, you’re selling information, by offering the visitor the opportunity to get additional information by reading your newsletter.

Do this by telling everyone who comes into your place of business that you have a newsletter, and that they can sign up for it online. You should also have a printed copy handy for them to take home and read at their leisure. Make sure it includes a link to your site or a QR code so that person can subscribe easily, or find you online to read more.

It’s a good idea to put a sign-up sheet at your reception desk, or even better, keep your ipad right there on the front desk and let visitors enter their info into your newsletter form directly.

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Craig Grella

Founder and Executive Director at OrgSpring
Craig is the founder and executive director or OrgSpring, a nonprofit dedicated to helping other nonprofits achieve their missions online. Through tips and tutorials, Craig's goal is show nonprofits how to use technology to become more efficient, grow their list of supporters, and increase online donations.