This post originally appeared on the blog Michael Rosen Says…

While I have long known why nonprofit organizations should collect email addresses from supporters and potential supporters, I had much less of an understanding of how to accomplish that.

When you have someone’s email address, you can communicate with them at little cost and with great speed. For example, you can:

  • Send newsletters,
  • Share updates,
  • Conduct surveys,
  • Issue calls to action,
  • Invite people to programs and events,
  • Appeal for support.

Unfortunately, collecting email addresses is a challenge for every nonprofit organization. How can you get people to voluntarily provide you with their email? How can you ensure they’re happy with their decision so that they allow you to keep using their email?

Fortunately, we now have help from Ephraim Gopin, founder of 1832 Communications, an agency helping nonprofits raise more money through strategic and smart marketing and communications. He has written a book with the answers we need: How to Successfully Onboard New Subscribers to Your Nonprofit E-Newsletter. Ephraim’s e-book is FREE, and you can download your copy now by clicking here.

In his mercifully brief book – it’s just 38 pages – Ephraim packs in a wealth of fresh insights and useful tips. He addresses the following questions and more:

  • How do you build your nonprofit’s email list?
  • How can you use your website and e-newsletter to attract email subscribers?
  • Where on your website should you place your signup form?
  • What fields should your signup form contain?
  • Should you place an opt-in on your donation form?
  • What content should appear in your welcome email?
  • Why is it bad form to ask for a donation right after someone signs up?

With Ephraim’s help, you’ll learn how to gather more email addresses and how to ensure that your supporters value their relationship with your organization. Toward that end, with his guest post below, Ephraim generously picks up where his book finishes. He shares five tips for ensuring that your email subscribers receive the kind of consistent value that will lead to their growing support.

I thank Ephraim for sharing his wisdom with his book and now with his guest post:


I subscribed to your nonprofit e-newsletter and received your welcome email. Now what?

Just Getting Started

The initial email you send a new subscriber is their first touchpoint with your organization. As fundraising copywriting expert Julie Cooper says, it’s like a first date. You’re just starting to get to know each other. It will take time and effort to build the relationship.

How can your nonprofit use email marketing to create a connection that eventually converts me from subscriber to donor? Here are five elements you need to incorporate into your email strategy:

1. Welcome Series

It’s not enough to send a welcome email. Your organization should prepare a “welcome series,” a series of automated emails intended to further introduce me to the organization. The goal at the end of this series? Make a small ask.

Each email in the series provides more information to new subscribers. A success story, program description, or detailing how volunteers impact your service recipients. Each email should contain one CTA (call to action): Watch a video, take a survey, read a blog post, follow you on social media.

As the new subscriber learns more and understands the impact your organization is having in the community, you can then begin to move them slowly from subscriber to donor.

2. The Rule Of 7

In e-commerce marketing, the rule is it takes a person an average of seven touchpoints before they’re willing to consider buying a product from a company. That could include a Google search, website visit, clicking an ad, submitting an email address to receive a coupon, clicking on a CTA in an email and more. It takes time to move a person from thinking about buying to actually submitting credit card information and ordering the product.

The same applies to nonprofits. Want to move a subscriber to become a donor? Patience. You may need a long runway to convert them. The welcome series can help but it may not be enough.

Think about subscribers as individual donors: How many meetings, phone calls, emails and more does it take before a donor finally gives you a yes? It can take a while. Continue to build the relationship via email and eventually you will see success.

3. Consistency

When I work with clients on their email marketing, I ask: “Currently, how often do you send your e-newsletter?” When the answer is “regularly” or “when the person in charge gets around to it,” that’s when I get worried.

Neither of those answers is subscriber friendly. What does regularly mean? Weekly? Monthly? Quarterly? Yearly? Your subscribers need consistency from your organization. Otherwise, they never know what to expect.

Sure, everyone’s inboxes are overflowing with email. Are subscribers waiting around to receive your communications? No. But you still need to set expectations with subscribers. Tell them how often you’ll be contacting them.

Emotional content moves us. Storytelling done right causes us to take action.

Think about the content you’re delivering to your subscribers: What added value does it have for them?

Example: Your nonprofit advocates for and helps homeless people in the community. In one of your emails, consider sending a survey titled: “What do you know about homelessness in our city?” Three to four multiple-choice questions. Whether people choose the right or wrong answer, have a quick pop-up box appear with more information to expand their knowledge. In 60 seconds, you can educate each person who takes the survey.

Added value.

5. You, You, You

As a nonprofit professional, I assume you already know this but it bears repeating: The center of all your communications should be the subscriber/donor, not the organization. Meaning: Less we, more you.

Your goal should be to connect subscribers (eventual donors) with the population they are going to be helping. As fundraising coach Beth Ann Locke says: There should be no space between the donor and the service recipient.

Look at your communications and see: How often do you talk about you and how often about we? The ratio should be 3:1 in favor of you. Anything less means go back and rewrite.

Your communications with subscribers should be a conversation. You need to tell them how much impact and good will be accomplished via a gift. They need for just a minute to feel like a superhero who can save the day. That won’t happen if you consistently extol the virtues of your organization while neglecting the people who donate to make a difference.

Once The Door Is Open…

In conclusion, a welcome email to a new subscriber is just the beginning. Every email you send after that helps to build the relationship. As the relationship grows, you’ll reach the point where you can ask the subscriber to consider a small donation to benefit the people they’ve been reading about in your communications.

Email should be an important part of your overall multi-channel fundraising strategy. When done properly, your organization will successfully convert subscribers to donors.

In addition to downloading Ephraim’s FREE e-book, you can also subscribe to his FREE e-newsletter. Also, be sure to check out his FREE podcast series.

To learn about Ephraim’s August 26, 2020 webinar for the AFP Northern Arizona Chapter, click here. To watch a recording of his recent webinar for Bloomerang, click here.

That’s what Ephraim Gopin and Michael Rosen say… What do you say?