List Building for Nonprofits | Organizational Best Practices

by The Campaign Workshop

list-building best practices photo

List Building for Nonprofits: Tips to Build a Movement 

List building for nonprofits is extremely important. These are people you can turn to for donations, taking action on your behalf, volunteering, and more. When list building, it’s important that you follow a few best practices. This will ensure you’re getting the best possible supporters and doing so in the best possible way.

1.  Never, ever buy a list. Buying an email list may seem like a fast and easy way for list building for nonprofits, but almost always this is a bad idea. First of all, the people on a list you buy haven’t opted into receiving emails from you. They may not even know what your organization is or be a supporter of your cause. This will lead to more people unsubscribing. Second of all, most bulk email systems (the good ones) will not allow purchased lists to be uploaded into their systems. This is to prevent spam. Don’t be a spammer!


2.  Always opt-in (or opt-out). When you add people to your list, you should always have a way for them to say, “Yes! I want to receive emails from you.” And a way for them to opt-out of receiving emails, should they not want to. This helps make sure you’re getting real supporters and, again, that you’re not sending spam.

3.  Update your database regularly. Make sure you are going through your database and updating it regularly. If people have sent you an email requesting to be unsubscribed, make sure that is happening in conjunction with an automatic unsubscribe through your mail system. Make sure records are up to date and accurate.

4. Encourage more list growth. Keep list building.  Don't stop ! Ask your current list to recruit their friends and family. Send out emails with actions they can take (petitions, etc.). Ask for money. Keeping your list engaged will mean you have an active audience and will help you continue to grow.

Any tips for list building for nonprofits to share? Leave us a comment.