3 Smart Ways to Grow Your Nonprofit’s Email List

NBB 3 smart ways email listThere’s no question that email has become the primary communication channel for nonprofits. And if that’s true, each of your marketing efforts should lead back to building your email list.

Here are my favorite ways to quickly and effectively build your email list and the reasons why it’s so important.

Why is Growing Your List Important?

If we don’t know why we are building our email list, there’s zero motivation to do it. There needs to be a strategy in place to see results.

Most people don’t understand the real benefits of an email list. They simply see it as a way to send out a monthly newsletter. A newsletter is one benefit, but here are several other reasons for building a quality email list for your nonprofit.

Keep Donors Up-to-Date

Email provides an inexpensive way to keep donors up-to-date. For example, you can create specific email lists for different types of donors, and send them updates based on what type of news interests them.

Solicit Feedback

Email is often used as a one-way communication tool, but it can work both ways. Don’t hesitate to ask your email for feedback on an idea or specific direction for your nonprofit. You can have them respond directly back to the email (which will actually help your open rates because once they respond, Gmail sends it straight to their inbox instead of the promotional tab.) You can also use a free tool like Survey Monkey to have them answer a multiple choice question.

Email is the Only Channel You Own

You can’t control the changes Facebook makes, like the recent change that dropped visibility of your posts down to 7%. You can’t control how many people see your tweets or even how many people see your blog posts. But you can count on your email being sent to someone’s inbox. Think of this as the lifeline to your nonprofit’s audience.

3 Ways To Grow Your List

Add An Email Capture on the Main Pages of Your Website

Most nonprofit websites have an email capture in one or two spots on their website, but they are missing out on several other opportunities to capture addresses. Here are some of the places you might not have thought about:

  • Your homepage (duh!)
  • The sidebar on your website, so it shows up on every page with that sidebar.
  • At the bottom of each blog post. Here’s an example from my blog:

NBB bottom of post example

  • At the bottom of each page on your site including your About Page and Contact Page. Here’s an example from the Know.Think.Act website:

NBB knowthinkact example

  • A non-obtrusive pop-up window on your site. You can use a free tool like the Scroll Box from SumoMe. Here’s an example of the Scroll Box from Brian’s blog:

NBB sumome scroll box

Give Them a GREAT Reason to Sign Up

Think of the reasons that pushed you over the edge to sign up for your last few email lists. Was it a free e-book? A short course? A training video? Or simply the fact that you didn’t want to miss out because the emails were so good?

Once you know what types of emails you’ll be sending, experiment with what gets people to sign up for your list. If you’re not sure about creating a short PDF e-book, try describing the benefits of signing up for the list.

What are the things that draw people to your nonprofit? Is it the stories you tell? Then tell them to sign up to receive free inspirational stories. Is it the pictures and videos you capture? Tell them to sign up to be the first to receive exclusive content before it’s published.

Here’s an example of a great offer from Red Earth Trading Co.

NBB red earth example

Capture Emails Offline

Quick! Make a list of all the places you interact with your nonprofit’s audience off-line. What are they?

  • Meetings
  • Events
  • Fundraisers

If people are taking the time to participate with you, they probably want to keep in the know. Whenever you hold a meeting, include the email address as part of the registration with a default box checked to receive updates. That allows them to uncheck it if they don’t want to receive updates or check a box if they don’t want to subscribe. This is an excellent way to gather your biggest supporters and keep them up-to-date.

How do you collect email addresses for your nonprofit? What has been the most effective method for you? Share below in the comments!


Joel Widmer

Digital Marketing Strategist & Owner, Fluxe Digital Marketing / Entrepreneur; NBB Board Member. Consultant for Fortune 500 companies, start-ups, movies, and more. Addicted to hamburgers.

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