Online Fundraising: Build Your List of Email Donors in 10 Simple Internet and Offline Ways

Your greatest challenge as an email fundraiser is your list. If your organization is typical, only 10% of the people in your donor file have given you their email address. And that list isn't growing any larger all on its own.

Email fundraising is new, but email isn't. So donors and potential donors dont divulge their email addresses easily. They're tired of spam. They're
afraid of online fraud. They're protective of their inboxes.

So getting your donors, potential donors and strangers to give you their email addresses is tough. Here are 10 ways to encourage people to give you access to their inboxes in record time.

You can deploy some of these tactics immediately, and see immediate results. Some of the other recommendations will take a little longer. But either way, if you set out in a deliberate, long-term way to acquire as many email addresses as possible from people who ask to hear from you, you'll build a list of email subscribers that quickly becomes your greatest asset next to your donor file.

1. Aim to get the email addresses of both donors and non-donors. Advocates, volunteers, anonymous website visitors and other non-donors who sign up for your email newsletters, action alerts and other email correspondence are prime prospects for donations (just be patient).

2. Mention your donor email newsletter in articles and stories on your website, making the newsletter title a hotlink that points to your sign-up page. (In our latest email issue of Darfur Digest, we described the worsening situation in southern Sudan).

3. On pages that donors are re-directed to after making a donation on your website, include a link to your email sign-up page and a compelling reason for donors to sign up.

4. On your Frequently Asked Questions page, make one of the questions about the availability of email correspondence, and answer the
question by describing the email newsletters, alerts, prayer letters, bulletins and other emails that you publish.

5. If your staff take part in online forums, make sure they mention your email newsletter discreetly when posting their comments, as a way to
encourage other forum participants to learn more about the topic being discussed.

6. If you run a walkathon, golf tournament or other outdoor fundraiser, make the sign-up process include email addresses so you can keep participants, suppliers, volunteers and organizers informed before and after the event.

7. Require your major donor officers to ask all prospects and donors if they would like to receive email updates on how their gift is being used.

8. Whenever you ask donors or advocates to complete a petition (offline or online), ask for their email address.

9. Track which issues of your newsletter, or which appeal emails, generate the largest number of donations, and then uses these same subjects or appeals when attracting new donors and members.

10. When hosting a fundraising banquet, invite guests to supply their email addresses as part of the event.


These tips are taken from Build Your List of Email
Donors in 80 Simple Ways, Handbook 24 in the
Hands-On Fundraising Series published by Andrew
Spencer Publishing.

About the author:
Alan Sharpe is president of Raiser Sharpe, a full-service direct mail fundraising agency that helps non-profit organizations raise funds, build relationships and retain loyal donors. Sign up for free weekly tips like this, and discover other helpful resources, at

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