The holiday season is here and your organization decided to send newsletters to donors, volunteers or other stakeholders – a great idea, however, currently you have a very limited email list… how to collect emails of new potential donors? How can your organization utilize your website to expand the organization’s mailing list?

As a director of resource development for an Israeli nonprofit organization, 1 +1 Association of Immigrant Youth, I prepared a very nice presentation (with music and everything…) for new potential private donors. I remember long discussions over every word, phrases, and images for this presentation, we worked days and nights to make sure that the presentation conveyed the exact message we wanted to send to these prospects.

After we were pleased with the presentation, we moved on to the next step, sending the presentation to our mailing list… Surprise!  What we found was that our mailing list contained only limited number of individuals and mainly includes foundations who already rejected our proposals (quite a few…).This presentation was not relevant for them because we wanted to touch individuals, not organizations.

I assume that we were not the first organization to face this problem and certainly not the last, therefore, I decided to share with you tips and tricks to improve your website’s online registration form – hopefully it will help you to collect more information about people who are interested in your organizations.

1. Balanced Simplicity.
It is very tempting to ask your site visitors endless questions on the online form – name, email, phone, gender, age, location and more. Collecting as much information as possible makes sense because we all want to know our donors. But, asking too many questions may deter them from joining your mailing list.

Balance – The form should be simple to fill out and at the same time collect enough information so you can start cultivating the relationship with the surfer (I always say that it is impossible to cultivate relationship with an email address!).

Ask yourself how much information is really necessary? Put yourself in their shoes, would you answer so many questions? Keep it Simple.

Another option is to have two forms, one simple that includes only necessary information (email, first name, and last name) and another form with more detailed questions.

2. Provide Value.
Explain to the surfer what they get if they sign up for your mailing list; what they receive in exchange. Instead of saying “To subscribe to our mailing list click here” write “Join the association’s quarterly newsletter to receive updated information about our nationwide activities” or “Join our organization’s monthly newsletter to receive weekly tips and case studies directly to your mailbox”.

3. It is an Organizational Effort.
The importance of your distribution list should be clear to all staff and volunteers. Make sure that everyone can present and explain the value of your newsletter. It is better to ask “Can I send you our newsletter?” rather than “What’s your email address?” People prefer to receive than to give…

4. Not Only Online.
Market your distribution list everywhere, not only on your website! On your business cards, when groups are coming for site visits, or when holding an event or a conference, always ask people to join your mailing list. Offer your newsletter.

5. Location, Location, Location.
All of the above mentioned tips are effective as long as people can find the registration form.
Place the form in a prominent place on the site. For example, note the right bar, see the logo registry? If you have not registered yet, you know what to do…

6. Web-to-Lead
If your organization is using Salesforce to manage your constituents (please contact me if you are not using it and would like to receive more information) you should use the Web-to-Lead great feature. With web-to-lead forms the organization can easily capture and record leads from the website directly into Salesforce with no additional cost.

To conclude, if you didn’t do it yet, please join my mailing list to receive monthly technology updates, tips, and tricks just like the one you just read.