3 Ways Non-Profits Can Build Email Lists That Inspire Engagement

3 Ways Non-Profits Can Build Email Lists That Inspire Engagement

When you think of integrated marketing, does email come to mind? Email might not be as trendy as other marketing channels, but it has an important place in your integrated fundraising and marketing strategy. With a little planning, you can build your email database and take advantage of this low cost, effective communication tool.

What is the best way to build your email list?

Organically! When a person gives you their email address, they are much more likely to open your email. If a person likes what you are sending, they are less likely to unsubscribe or report you as spam. If people are engaged in your e-blasts, they will help you maintain your email database, and notify you of any address changes.

In other words, create emails that donors, volunteers, and supporters want to read! Here are three ways to build your email database.

1. Give your supporters a reason to open your emails.

What would inspire someone to read your emails? If they donate their time, money, and energy to your organization, they like what you do! They are already likely to read your messages. Use email to communicate:

  • What your organization is doing
  • How their money is used
  • The impact their time and money made on your organization
  • What plans you have for future projects
  • How they can continue to be involved

2. Your supporters are different, so give them different email options.

Usually, people think of segmentation after they create a database. However, with your email database, people can self-segment as they sign-up. This helps you know your supporters better and allows you to personalize their experience within your organization. This is segmentation at its best!

Here are ways to use e-newsletters and e-blasts to give supporters options:

  • E-newsletters- Give an overview of what your organization is doing, as well as a more in-depth story about specific impacts you are making.
  • Impact reports- Send a monthly impact report that includes anecdotes of your work as well as statistics that show your overall impact.
  • Monthly program reports- For supporters who are interested in specific programs, send a monthly report of what that program is doing. Include some of the educational pieces you provide to your clients.
  • Trend reports- Educate your supporters on what is happening in your “industry.” You can include topics such as how organizations like yours are embracing technology or new treatments. Share links to current research that could impact your organization.
  • Wish lists- Send monthly lists of items your organization needs. If schools or families do donation drives for you, be sure to include a story about their drive in this e-news blast. Let your donors know that others are excited about giving as well.

 3. Use specialized emails to build your database.

Now that you have different e-blasts to send, you can build your database more effectively. Here are ideas for building your email database from targeted e-blast options:

  1. At programs, community events, or fundraisers, let attendees know that they can get updates on your program by signing up for the program e-blast. Have a table at the event that is specifically dedicated to collecting e-mail addresses.
  2. On your website, each program page should have a way to sign up for email updates for that topic or program.
  3. Each direct mail piece should include an option to sign up for e-blasts. By offering your e-blast choices, donors will sign up for topics they want to read.
  4. On each e-blast, include an option for recipients to sign up for another e-blast or forward to a friend.
  5. When people register for your events online, include the option to register for e-blasts.
  6. If you are not already doing so, add some of the educational pieces or hand-outs you use with your clients to your website. When people download your content, you can ask them to sign-up for the e-blast related to that topic.
  7. Use e-blast content for social media posts. Be sure to let people know that they can receive more information through your e-blasts. Include a link to your website where they can sign-up.

How NOT to build your email list

Purchasing email addresses is not effective. Because of the way spam filters work, your email is much less likely to land in the inbox of an address you purchase versus those you collect organically. Even if your email makes it past the spam filter, it needs to pass the email firewall and stay out of the junk or promotions folder for most supporters to open the email.

When you work to build your list organically, your emails are more likely to be read, giving you the opportunity to build long-lasting relationships with your supporters.


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