Gaining support for your organization via email marketing has become more important than ever before.

Whether you aim to build a nonprofit email list for donations, to engage volunteers, or to reach your client community, you’ve come to the right place.

Read on to learn our top tips for growing a nonprofit email list of engaged donors, volunteers, and other supporters. But first — let’s talk about why having a quality email list is so important.

Why building a nonprofit email list is so important

Online giving grew by 12 percent in 2020 with 25 percent of online-only first-time donors being retained for over a year.

Plus, even before the coronavirus pandemic nonprofit email open rates rose nearly 5 percent in 2019, indicating increased public interest in engaging with nonprofits digitally.

In fact, dunham+Company found that the percentage of donors motivated to give online via email has jumped 40% since 2015.

This is why it is important to build a quality nonprofit email list. But you have to do it the right way.

Thinking about buying donor lists?

If you’re thinking about buying donor lists, don’t. It might seem like a good way to grow your contact list quickly, but purchased email lists can destroy your marketing and your nonprofit’s reputation.

In fact, buying and spamming email lists is often illegal, and violates the CAN-SPAM Act. Spamming is never a good idea for your brand reputation, and it can even heavily impact your email deliverability, causing your emails to land in the spam folder, even for your most loyal supporters.

No one wants that. That’s why it’s important to always grow a permission-based email list of people who actually want to hear from you. But don’t worry — you’re in good hands! Read on for our top tips for growing your nonprofit email list the right way.

5 ways to build a nonprofit email list for donations, volunteers, and more

Here are our top five tactics for growing a quality nonprofit email list.

1. Provide a clear incentive for why people should subscribe to your nonprofit email list

The first step to growing a quality donor email list is making sure you have an email sign-up form on your nonprofit website. But just adding the form isn’t enough. You’ll want to think about how to incentivize people to actually use it.

People subscribe to email lists if they know the content of the emails they receive will be worth their time. Think about how your nonprofit can create value for subscribers with each email newsletter you send. Is there a resource you could offer for free in exchange for their email address?

A few examples of resources you could use are:

  • An animal adoption directory
  • A list of after-school care for kids
  • Upcoming road races to support Cancer Awareness
  • Research articles on the latest environmental success stories

FamilyLife found that offering a free online course in addition to signing up for a newsletter increased signups by 47.2%.

Learn more tips for collecting signups to your nonprofit email list by optimizing your signup form.

nonprofit newsletter sign-up form
This nonprofit email list sign-up form at the bottom of the website clearly communicates what the subscriber will get in exchange for their email address.

2. Add a pop-up sign-up form to your nonprofit’s website

Website pop-ups can be annoying. There are some pop-ups that show up as soon as you open a website and unless you close them, you can’t view any content in the background. But if used to your advantage, website pop-ups aren’t always frustrating.

Most pop-ups are asking for information from the reader, but with the right timing and by focusing on what your audience wants, you can get them to take action.

nonprofit email list pop-up sign-up form
Notice how in this example pop-up sign up form, the focus is still on what the subscriber will get out of joining your list. In this case, they’ll be the first to receive updates and photos when a rescue puppy is available for adoption.

Make sure your pop-up email sign-up form has a clear call-to-action (CTA). Go beyond “Sign-Up Now” and “Subscribe”. Try something like, “Yes, I want to donate!” or “I’m interested in this cause” or something as simple as “I would like to learn more”.

Just remember, opting-in shouldn’t make customers feel as if they are setting themselves up to receive dozens of irrelevant emails with hardly any relatable content.

3. Design an effective landing page

A landing page is usually a page on your website designed to convert visitors into subscribers or leads. This allows you to email them later to further cultivate them into donors, volunteers, or other supporters.

Constant Contact users can take advantage of Lead Generation Landing Pages to capture new email sign-ups. While we recommend that every organization have its own website, we recognize that not every organization does (yet). The good news about Lead Generation Landing Pages is you can set them up and start collecting email addresses for your nonprofit email list even if you don’t have a website.

nonprofit email list landing page
Here’s what a Lead Generation Landing Page looks like. It’s a simple “mini website” designed to do one thing — capture email sign-ups.

Tips for effective nonprofit Lead Generation Landing Pages

Many landing page best practices suggest using large header images, inline quotations, and minimal copy so that visitors get to the signup form faster.

For nonprofit research lab, NextAfter, multiple sessions of A/B testing revealed 13 elements of landing pages that help grow an engaged email list. The elements are:

  1. Use a linear layout
  2. Use a text-only headline; not a banner image
  3. If you use a background image, make sure it matches your advertising
  4. Add social proof
  5. Write 2-3 short paragraphs of copy to convey your value proposition
  6. Use a primary image, not a video, if it adds clarity or increases continuity
  7. Avoid supporting content in line with the main content
  8. Add a call-to-action header and copy
  9. Use as few form fields as possible
  10. Group form fields together to reduce page length
  11. Consider adding qualifying questions to increase user’s expectations
  12. For supporting content, use testimonials or endorsements
  13. Add a privacy statement below the submit button

In one scenario, three key changes were made to a decent-performing landing page:

  1. The header image was removed
  2. A text-only headline was implemented
  3. A relevant supporting image was added in-line with the text

This brought an astounding 448.65% increase in email signups.

4. Grow your nonprofit email list on social media

Contrary to popular belief, social media marketing for nonprofits is a rather efficient way of getting donors involved in your cause. Whether it’s Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, or Instagram, if there’s a social media channel available, someone is on it.

Social media is dynamic and fresh. If you don’t have a vibrant social media presence, you may be missing out on some great opportunities to connect with your supporters and pick up more subscribers.

That said, your nonprofit does not need to be on every social media site. Focus on one social platform at a time. If the majority of your donors are on Twitter, stick to it. Interact with them, use appropriate hashtags, and work towards gaining user-generated content. Ask your followers which causes they support and if they have any stories to share.

Social media is most effective when you combine it with your existing nonprofit email marketing strategy.

Make it easy for your email subscribers to find you on social media by adding buttons to all your active social media channels in your email newsletter.

You can also use Constant Contact’s Social Share feature to promote your emails on your social channels. Increasing the visibility of your newsletter is one of the best ways to build your email list.

Reaching new contacts on social media

Looking to grow your email list beyond those who already follow you on social media? There’s a list-building tool specifically for collecting email addresses from interested contacts on Facebook.

Facebook Lead Ads are simple, focused Facebook Ads that allow users to sign up for your email list without ever leaving Facebook. They’re super effective for growing an email list, you just need to set aside a small budget to use them.

Facebook Lead Ads for nonprofit email list
With Constant Contact, you can easily create Facebook Lead Ads to capture new email sign-ups for your nonprofit. Learn how.

5. Collect emails offline

An easy but highly effective way to collect emails, especially if your nonprofit organizes drives and fundraising events frequently, is in-person.

Attendees, supporters, and donors can opt-in and sign up for your email list when they arrive at an event. Having a physical email signup sheet at the event is another great way of giving attendees a chance to sign-up for your nonprofit’s emails.

nonprofit email list sign-up form
You can click here to download this free email sign-up form template.

If your nonprofit has supporters who send in their donations via check or snail mail, include a field where donors can opt-in to your email list on your form.

Encourage your subscribers to share fundraising campaigns with their network, thus increasing the exposure your nonprofit receives.

Just because events happen “offline” doesn’t mean you can’t use them to create more opportunities for supporters to connect with you online.

The nonprofit email list-building never stops — but neither will the support

Growing an engaged email list for donations can take some time, but it’s worth it! By following these five tips, you can boost excitement around your nonprofit organization and use email to engage donors, volunteers, and overall awareness of your cause. You can also explore nonprofit email marketing metrics that can help give your organization a visibility boost.