Close Search
News  | 

Building an Effective Email Marketing List for NFPs

20 August 2015 at 12:40 pm
Lina Caneva
With just a few tweaks to a communications strategy, Not for Profits can start to incrementally grow their email lists and drive more traffic to their website, writes Mathan Allington from Connecting Up.

Lina Caneva | 20 August 2015 at 12:40 pm


Building an Effective Email Marketing List for NFPs
20 August 2015 at 12:40 pm

With just a few tweaks to a communications strategy, Not for Profits can start to incrementally grow their email lists and drive more traffic to their website, writes Mathan Allington from Connecting Up.

Have you set up email marketing but are struggling to grow your lists? Maybe email marketing is not yet part of your organisations’ communications strategy and you are wanting to use email marketing to reach your community and database?

Email marketing is a highly effective form of communication, and offers great return-on-investment (ROI) compared to some traditional forms of marketing.

Not only can you send hundreds or thousands of emails for very little outlay, but you can then get almost instant reporting on the performance of your communications. Track how many of your audience are opening your emails, clicking the links, and then even see what actions they take on your website – right through to making a donation or registering for your event.

That all sounds fantastic, but what if I only have 50, 250 or 500 subscribers and I want more?

There are many aspects to consider in the email building and creation itself, but let’s firstly start with building the list and the audience you can send to.


First and foremost before getting the actual contact details, what VALUE are you offering potential subscribers for your emails? There is such a thing as email-fatigue, where people receive too many email newsletters and are now more wary of handing out their details.

To overcome this, you need to offer value, and communicate this at the point of signup. As examples, will it be a quality “newsletter” with important community information, “top tips” from your specialty subject, or keeping up with “latest events” in your area?

Website Accounts

Do you have a website that offers a member area requiring a signup form? There are many integrations available with all sorts of website and email marketing platforms, which will enable automatic adding to your lists, via opt-in check-boxes as part of the form.

With this small step, you can incrementally build your list with each new member or account creation.

Website Visitors

A challenge for many organisations is converting website visitors into people you can proactively communicate to via email. You might get a few new members and signups (see above), but sometimes you might want to catch people before they are ready to create an account on your site.

This goes to the above point about value. If you can offer value to your website visitors, and a strong call to action, you can convert your website visitors to email subscribers through a few means:

1. Blog subscription – you might be generating some traffic from search engines to your blog. You can automate subscriptions via signup boxes or buttons, and even automatic your blog posts to hit people’s inbox when you post.

2. Website offer – have a signup box (possibly a pop-up, sidebar form or other location), offering something in return to a new subscriber. It needs to offer value, and many popular forms are a free resource or ebook, tips in your specialty area, or an exclusive offer.

By checking over your website and making a few changes, you can turn start turning your existing traffic into email subscribers for future communications.


While the reach of this isn’t the billions online we dream of capturing, these are the people that you are meeting at conferences, sector engagements, expos and your own events. Maybe you have a storefront, public office or social enterprise you have foot traffic rolling through your doors? These are all opportunities to be adding people to your communications lists.

Historically I have seen (and been part of organisations) that captured interested parties’ details via paper forms. This is a bit problematic for a few reasons.

Firstly, I don’t want my personal details sitting around on a form for unauthorised people to see. Secondly, the risks associated with losing the details or having them entered in manually and incorrectly mean the quality of the data could be lessened.

If you are using paper forms for capturing email addresses and other data from people interested to hear from your organisation, consider digitising and automating this with a tablet or computer display.

Popular email marketing platforms like MailChimp, Campaign Monitor and others, provide free integration with apps to have a simple sign-up form at the point of contact. This is great for removing the duplication of work via data entry, but also ensuring higher quality by having the subscriber enter it directly, thus removing risks of illegible handwriting or data entry errors.

With a few tweaks to your communications strategy, you could start incrementally growing your email lists which is the first step in helping drive more traffic to your website, increased awareness of your work in the community and an increase in donations to your organisation.

In a future post, we will examine what to do once you have people on your list, and how to communicate with them effectively to maximise the opens and clicks on your emails.

About the author: Mathan Allington is the Community Engagement Coordinator at Connecting Up – a capacity building Not for Profit organisation working with other Not for Profits in Australia and New Zealand.

Lina Caneva  |  Editor  |  @ProBonoNews

Lina Caneva has been a journalist for more than 35 years. She was the editor of Pro Bono Australia News from when it was founded in 2000 until 2018.

PB Careers
Get your biweekly dose of news, opinion and analysis to keep you up to date with what’s happening and why it matters for you, sent every Tuesday and Thursday morning.

Got a story to share?

Got a news tip or article idea for Pro Bono News? Or perhaps you would like to write an article and join a growing community of sector leaders sharing their thoughts and analysis with Pro Bono News readers? Get in touch at or download our contributor guidelines.


Panel Discussion Webinar

Get more stories like this


Your email address will not be published.


New dementia documentary sheds light on the need for more community awareness

Samantha Freestone

Friday, 24th June 2022 at 6:07 pm

Making co-ops visible

Wendy Williams

Friday, 24th June 2022 at 10:30 am

The importance of giving circles in contemporary philanthropy

Christine Darcas

Thursday, 23rd June 2022 at 11:15 am

pba inverse logo
Subscribe Twitter Facebook