A large, targeted mailing list is important for any non-profit. The larger the list, the bigger the audience for your message. Growing your email list, however, can be challenging with a limited budget. Renting a list targeted to your cause costs approximately $100 for every 1000 names and you can only mail to them once. If you don’t have this kind of money to spend on a mailing list, you’re going to have to be a little more creative. Here are some ideas for growing your mailing list for free using social media, events and your website:
Employ Social Media
If you haven’t done so already, consider building an online presence to engage potential supporters and capture email addresses. Once you have built up your followers on social sites like LinkedIn and Twitter, you can download their contact information, including email addresses to your database.
Unfortunately Facebook, which is the biggest social media platform for non-profits, does not automatically capture the email addresses of fans or people who “like” your page, but you can create your own “sign up” form on your Facebook page. John Haydon, expert in social media marketing for non-profits, has created a great tutorial that shows you exactly how to do this.
Once you have the form on your page, all you have to do is give your fans a reason to sign up and give you their email address. Think creatively about what will appeal to them and offer them something they can’t refuse. How about something free that you know they will want or an opportunity to participate in something meaningful or fun. Oxfam America, for example, created a Flickr Photo Petition campaign to put pressure on Starbucks to give poor coffee farmers in Ethiopia a chance to earn more. Getting your Facebook fans to participate in a campaign like this would not only capture email addresses for you, but it would get people engaged with your cause before they even receive their first email.
Make the Most of Events
Now think about all of the events that you have held over the years. Has your organization used these events as opportunities to capture attendees’ emails? If not, you are missing out on a huge opportunity. People who come to these events are expressing an interest in your organization just by showing up, so by not getting their information, you are letting potential supporters and donors out the door.
At your next event, try holding a raffle. Have someone welcome guests and get them to sign in with their name and email address or throw their business cards into a bowl for a draw at the end of the event. It’s hard for people to resist the chance to win something, so they’ll happily give you their email address.
Engage people on Your Website
Your website is also a great place to collect email addresses of people who are interested in your cause. For starters, make sure you have an option to “sign-up for newsletter”or “get our latest news” as well as other calls to action like “get involved”, “take action” or anything else that will appeal to visitors.
Also if you want to get creative, you could try engaging visitors. Ask for their opinion, get them to take part in a poll, or get them to share something. March of Dimes “Share Your Story”, for example, encourages parents to become involved by sharing information about having a premature baby. This is not only a good way to get email address, but it also fosters a real connection to the organization, so your subscribers have a positive picture of your organization in their minds before even receiving their first email.
A Final Word of Advice
In order to make sure your subscribers stay subscribers, be sure not to overwhelm them with requests. Instead, send them useful, informative and engaging information about your organization and the good it is achieving. Also, ensure that every email includes a simple way for them to opt out of receiving future emails.