Building Email Address Lists for Your Nonprofit

By Stan Hutton, Frances N. Phillips

When corresponding with people who contact you through email or your website, consider them prospective donors for your nonprofit. If you’re emailing a new correspondent, ask whether he wants to be added to your mailing list. Make this invitation a habit and respect those who decline. Others will accept, and slowly and steadily you’ll build your list.

Even though you can find robust email services that are free to use, many nonprofits choose to pay for commercial email services. Typically they provide templates that will make your email messages look better. You get less spam, less phishing, and more reliable delivery of your email. You should always check product reviews and talk to others, but a few frequently used email services are Constant Contact, Google Apps for Nonprofits, MailChimp, and Vertical Response.

Email address lists, like mailing address lists, can be purchased, traded, or borrowed. A nonprofit may be willing to lend or trade its list with another nonprofit with a similar mission. When using a borrowed list, it’s important to respect the privacy of the people listed. Don’t pass it along to others without permission and always offer an “unsubscribe” option.