5 minute read

When it comes to online marketing, the options are practically limitless for your nonprofit organization. Between search engine optimization, content marketing and social media, where do you start? In a world where technology is constantly expanding our connections, how can your nonprofit build personal relationships with constituents? By going back to the basics: your email newsletter.

Over the years, only email has consistently delivered a steady return on investment and tangible results for nonprofit organizations. In fact, according to Nonprofit Tech for Good, despite the rise of social media usage, more online donations are made from consumers clicking on an e-newsletter than any other source. Additionally, the 2012 Millennial Impact Report found 47% of millennials prefer to learn about nonprofits from e-newsletters, and a whopping 65% say they prefer for nonprofits to email them news and updates from the organization. That’s right: While other online marketing trends may be growing, your nonprofit’s newsletter certainly isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

So then the question remains: If your nonprofit utilizes an e-newsletter—which it should—how do you actually get people to subscribe to it? Turns out, getting people to sign up for your nonprofit organization’s email newsletter might not be as difficult as you think. Here are a few ways to get started.

Offer value for signing up.

When it comes to their email newsletter, many nonprofits make the mistake of thinking constituents will want to sign up and follow simply because your nonprofit is doing good in the world. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case. While constituents may care about your cause, they still want to find value in it for themselves. Think of your email list as an exclusive party. How do you get people to come? Tell them about how much have fun they will have.

Offering value to your subscribers right away gives them an incentive to sign up. For instance, some sites will provide a downloadable piece of content such as an eBook, give subscribers a trial membership with the organization or offer exclusive access to a specific portion of the website. Providing something valuable for constituents gives them the initial push into giving their email address for your organization’s list. It also sets a precedent of the type of content your nonprofit will provide through its newsletter. Constituents will be much more likely to subscribe if they know they’re not going to be constantly spammed with material. Instead, they will see a clear personal value in signing up today and a continued value in staying subscribed for the future.

Showcase an online archive.

If you want to grow your e-newsletter list, then give potential subscribers a little taste of the pie before diving in. Use your nonprofit’s website to showcase an online archive of past newsletters so potential subscribers can get a feel of the type of content you send out and how often. If your newsletter is strong, using an archive is the perfect way to demonstrate the type of value you can provide, and will definitely help to generate more leads for your email list.

While some email services can help you maintain an online archive, manually uploading the newsletter archive to your website is also possible. No matter which decision works better for your organization’s website tools, providing a newsletter archive will help constituents make a more informed decision on whether or not to sign up.

Integrate signup throughout your marketing.

Here’s a big one: If you want to grow your email newsletter list, then give constituents every opportunity in the world to subscribe. Integrate your signup form throughout multiple channels of online marketing, such as your website and social media. On your website, put your newsletter signup form in multiple locations (e.g., your homepage, footer, sidebar, involvement page and definitely your contact page). No matter where visitors are on your website, you want it to be as simple as possible for them to find and sign up for your newsletter. If a visitor is on your website in the first place, it means they’re at least mildly interested in learning more about your organization; give them the opportunity.

Then, be sure to include the same signup throughout other online marketing fields. For instance, when was the last time you shared about your newsletter through your social media platforms? Chances are, if constituents are following the organization on social media, they might want to get email updates as well. Share about your email newsletter on multiple social media platforms in order to drive traffic through your website and grow your email subscriber list.

Instill a social confidence.

Social pressure exists, and your nonprofit can use it to get people to sign up for your newsletter. Instill a social confidence in potential subscribers by including information on your website about current subscribers. For instance, if you have a large number of newsletter subscribers already, consider showing it off. Try something like, “Join 10,000 other community members and sign up for our email newsletter updates.” This makes potential subscribers feel more comfortable in following your organization, because they weren’t the first one to try it.

Or, share your mass numbers from all forms of online marketing. Some organizations choose to combine their newsletter subscribers with their social media following to showcase their overall number of constituents following them. This can definitely be useful in providing a positive social pressure for visitors to subscribe, but be sure you’re transparent here in where all these numbers come from. Ultimately, one of the oldest and truest forms of social confidence: the testimonial. When you share a positive testimonial from a current volunteer, donor or client, visitors will feel self-assured in giving the organization their information.

Make the email shareable.

Finally, one of the best ways to encourage visitors to sign up for your email newsletter is by letting your current subscribers do the work for you. When appropriate, make your newsletters easy to forward so subscribers can share with their friends and family, who will, in turn, feel more interested in joining the organization. A simple call to action link such as “Forward to a Friend” is the perfect way to encourage current subscribers to share with their immediate circle of friends and family. This will also make the recipients of these forwards more receptive to learning about the organization and its cause, because the recommendation is coming from someone they know and trust.

Your organization’s email newsletter is not going away anytime soon, so make sure you have the best practices in place to get people to sign up. Try out these tips in order to grow your subscribers list and share your mission with the world.

Interested in learning more ways to market your nonprofit organization? Firespring is here to help! We offer useful webinars, materials and seminars on how your NPO can market itself to further its cause. Learn more by giving us a call at 877.447.8941 or email hello@firespring.com.