Growing your email list: An essential first step


Welcome back to Grassroots Your Giving Season 2020! This year, we’re reposting some of our most helpful tips and tricks that will help you engage your community of small-dollar donors and give your end-of-year fundraising a boost. Putting time, energy, and resources toward growing your email list is essential to building a sustainable digital fundraising program: The majority of money raised online today comes from email, and your supporters are looking at and engaging with emails more than ever before. Plus, a strong email list means an ever-expanding group of supporters who are excited about volunteering, attending your virtual events, and fighting for your cause! Read on to learn more about how our experts recommend growing your email list ahead of Giving Tuesday and the end-of-year push.



When you have a passionate grassroots community and a fundraising strategy in place to engage folks, your fundraising success doesn’t have to depend on going viral on social media. This is where your email program is key. Through email, shift your focus for giving season to bringing more people into your movement and starting long-term relationships with supporters. To do this, you’ll need to put time and energy into growing your email list!

Adding new sign-ups to your list not only increases how many people will receive your Giving Tuesday fundraising asks — you’re also building a powerful grassroots base ready to support you on any Tuesday. Growing a healthy and engaged email list takes time, but our team has your back. We break down the basics, do’s, and beware’s of list building so you can get started now.

Tactics for building your email list

On your website:

  • The barebones: Make sure there’s an easy-to-find place to sign up for your email list on your website. All you need to collect is name and email to make signing up super easy!

  • To level up for giving season, add a pop-up on your website asking people to opt-in for updates.

  • Does your nonprofit have a blog for sharing your work? Place a subscription button at the bottom of your blog posts, asking “Do you want to receive important updates like this in your inbox?”

On social media:

  • Running digital ads is one of the most impactful things you can do to engage current and potential supporters on social media! Try running ads on Twitter and Facebook asking folks to take an action, like signing a petition or joining your movement. When people click, you’ll ask them to provide some basic information like their first name and email to join your list.

  • Cultivate your social media presence and give followers different ways to engage! You can encourage followers to sign up for email updates, or host swag giveaways and ask folks for their email.

During and after virtual events:

Through email:

  • Tandem Fundraising: Partner with an organization related to your cause to coalition-build and introduce each other’s work across your different lists.

  • Peer-to-peer power: When a supporter creates their own fundraising page and shares it with their network, you’re reaching people who may not already be involved with your nonprofit. You’re receiving new donations and adding more people to your email list!

Once you add new sign-ups to your list, send them welcome emails introducing your organization and work so they hear from you before you make your first fundraising ask. This way, you’re nurturing and engaging a community for the long haul! And as your list grows, make sure to keep your list clean. Fix easy typos like @gnail.com and let go of inactive subscribers, which affect whether your emails will land in spam or “Promotions.”

Quick takeaways:

Do: Start building your email list now for success much later!
Beware: Overlooking the time it takes to grow an online community that gives year-end and year-round.

Do: Promote signing up for your email list wherever you can. (Don’t be shy!)
Beware: Stopping at promoting — have a plan to welcome and engage new supporters on your list!

Do: Reach out to us for help and check out our other email program resources! We love talking about digital strategy that fits your nonprofit and are excited to help you grassroots your Giving Season so the momentum doesn’t end on December 1.

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