Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 32 seconds

Managing List Growth

Email has evolved into the preferred method for reaching out to donors. It provides a cost effective way to present actionable items, but getting valid emails often presents a challenge to non-profits. Luckily, there are several strategies available to non-profits for growing their email list.


Lead Generation

One option is a lead generation service. One such provider is Care2.com. Care2 is an online community of over 13 million users, all of them committed to making a difference whether that is by making a monetary donation or volunteering their time.

This, Jocelyn Harmon, Director of Nonprofit Services for Care2, explains is why Care2 is uniquely poised to help non-profits with their list growth.

Care2 provides the platform to reach the potential donors. They work with the non-profit to design a campaign that will run on the Care2.com website. The campaign could be a pledge, survey, or other call to action.

Once the potential donor follows through, say signing the pledge, they are prompted to provide their email address. Which Care2 then forwards to the non-profit for further use. This strategy allows Care2 to guarantee results.

Jocelyn believes that Care2.com works better then direct mail because “the Care2 community is predisposed to help. They are part of the community because they are looking for ways to do that“.

By creating an effective campaign and asking the donor to give the email as part of the survey, pledge, etc. the non-profit is getting a solid lead.

Jocelyn is careful to point out that to use an email you need “Explicit permission, anybody can buy email addresses, but not just anybody can buy permission”. Using Care2 ensures you are getting permission.

After getting the email addresses, Jocelyn reminds non-profits to, “Be ready to seize the moment”. Growing the list is important but the non-profit needs to follow through with actionable items.

Delivra helps the non-profit do just that. One of the original email-marketing providers, Delivra, works with non-profits to help them grow their list of permission-based subscribers.

While, Delivra won’t deliver a bundle of emails to the non-profit, they will help the non-profit develop strategies to collect the emails. Delivra creates personalized solutions that match the needs of the non-profit.

According to Carissa Newton, Delivra “helps non profits grow list themselves”. What Delivra does is provide the right strategy to do that. Carissa says their “Greatest success is integration”.

Some of the ways they help a non profit grow their list is by sending regular mail, flyers, letters or postcards that encourage constituents to go to website and sign up for emails. They also help non-profits manage their database and provide widgets that they can embed on website to encourage visitors to sign up for email.

Carissa also stresses the importance of weaving links into newsletters and including links in correspondence. It is important that non-profits need to take every opportunity to remind a constituent to sign up for the email list.


Other options for list growth include the non-profit’s website. To encourage website visitors to give their email include an email sign up button on each page of the website.

Also, make it as easy as possible to sign up. Don’t have an overly complicated form. Simply ask for first and last name, zip code (for future data sorting) and email address.

Other options

Some non-profits achieve list growth by running a chaperone email campaign. A chaperone email involves two non-profit organizations with similar goals working together to cross promote each other.

An example is the Sierra Club collaborating with the Nature Conservancy. A mailing goes out members of the Sierra Club encouraging them to become active members of the Nature Conservancy and visa versa. The mailing includes links to the email registration page of the non-profit.

Social media such as Twitter and Facebook Causes are excellent tools for encouraging people to come to website and opt in for email and non-profits shouldn’t neglect low-tech ways like providing email sign up sheets at events.

Whether the method is high tech list generation or something as simple as a sign up sheet, the important thing is to use the emails effectively. Make sure to send out actionable items and dynamic newsletters to keep the constituents engaged.

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