Non Profits: How to Build an Email List


When it comes to marketing an online raffle, email blasts have proved to be the most effective way to drive ticket sales.

Don't have an email list? Let's get started.

Emails can be incredibly valuable for fundraising and marketing your cause - if obtained properly. Persons may be tempted to purchase lists or take shortcuts, but the truth is, shortcuts don't work for email lists.

Your list will only be effective if people give you permission to send them emails and people care about your organization/cause.

If you don't have an existing email list, it will take time to convert your offline donors online. Be patient.

Start by signing up for an email automation service like Mailchimp, GetResponse, Robly, Drip, Wishpond, or explore the many more options available. These services will help to create sign-up landing pages, pop-up widgets, automate emails, and help organize your lists.

Convert Offline to Online.

If you have previously interacted with donors through mail or phone, make contact to request their email or direct them to your website/subscription page.

If you are hosting an event, provide a sign up sheet or make a contest in which people are asked to submit their emails to qualify.

Gain Traction.

Create a new lead generation offer. Compelling offers can be made from much of the content you already have.

Consider creating:

  • A document which answers many of your frequently asked questions
  • A kit which lumps together valuable content you have already created
  • Take content from one of your most popular posts or videos and expand on it
  • An e-book can be used to combine information you already have on your site
  • Off-line content can be repackaged and repurposed for online use

Offer newsletters. Whether they be monthly, weekly, or sporadic; be sure to give your website visitors the option to receive more information from you. As a non-profit, your supporters will want to see updates and proof of impact, so keep them in the loop!

Contests and petitions. The contest or petitions you run will be largely dependent on your cause. For example, if you are an animal welfare/rescue organization, you could hold a contest in which people choose a name for a new animal by submitting their email. Petitions can also be distributed online or in person to unify supporters.


Organic growth can be a long and tedious process. The best way to grow is to reach out to your supporters for shares and forwards. If your supporters pass on your newsletter to friends, this extends your reach and could result in new subscribers.

Beyond forwarding emails, if your supporters can share your posts or published content through social media, it will grow your networks. This will give you a larger audience to convert into email subscribers.

You could also run an 'Opt-In' campaign through your website or send it to existing donors.This will gain more subscribers and encourage your existing lists to subscribe for more. If you provide various Opt-In options; such as, how frequently they want to be emailed or what kind of content they want to receive in those emails, it will help to segment and better target your audiences.

If the organic process is proving too tedious, consider putting ads behind your online contests, promotions or opt-in campaigns. This will extend your reach and if the incentive is strong, it should result in new emails!


Studies have shown that your email list degrades by about 22.5% every year. Your contacts may switch emails, companies, or opt-out of email communications. That's why it is so important to keep the contacts you already have, and work actively to gain more.

So how do you keep them? 

You must provide your subscribers with value rather than using emails to merely drive donations. Supporters will want to know what your organization is doing, how their donations are being used, the impact of their time and money on your organization, plans you have for future projects, and how they can continue to be involved.

Another good way to maintain your list is by providing multiple options for email subscriptions. Your subscribers are there for different reasons; so let them join for the content they want rather than having them unsubscribe for receiving the content they don't.

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