Digging for Gold in Your Email List

Photo by covilha

One of the things I wish someone taught me sooner was how to dig for the gold nuggets in our nonprofit email list. I didn’t know much about cultivating relationships, and much less what to look for when I scrolled down hundreds of names.

But every nonprofit’s email list has gold. (Isn’t that a guarantee we wish we could apply to everything in life?!) If the names on your list came from people who donated or voluntarily signed up for your email list, you already have the best foundation for developing relationships: people who are interested in what you do.

The next step is the tricky part: finding what it is that turns them into doing something more for you. This requires a bit more work, but the payoff could be tremendous. Here are three steps to doing that.

First, Identify Your Needs

What are the things your nonprofit needs the most help on? Do you need volunteers for an upcoming event? Or do you need major donors to help fund a new program?

Whatever your needs, lay them out and see what kind of help you could use to make them a reality.

Second, Look at Your Email List

Your list is probably pretty basic (name, address, phone number email, amount donated, date, etc.) and that’s not a bad thing. You don’t want to pepper every donor or subscriber with all sorts of questions right out of the gate.

But you do want to take your time to get to know them, and if you have a donor management software that could help you keep track of personal attributes, you’re on your way to individualizing relationships.

You can still get some great intel based off of the basic information your subscribers provided. For example, if you’re looking for people to attend an education day in New York City, do a zip code radius search and send invites to people in the area. If you’re looking for a group to chip in to buy a new van for your after school program, sort by frequency of donations and start there.

Don’t be afraid to sort and re-sort that Excel spreadsheet. It’ll tell you a different story each time.

Third, Make the First Move

Some or most of the people in your list may not have done much more than donate, so reach out to them asking for their help in a specific project. Use the basics of email messaging, and be available to answer their questions and engage them.

If you take the time to befriend your supporter, and give them the opportunity to become involved in your cause, sooner or later, a few of these former “no-names” will become gold star champions for your nonprofit.

How do you find gold in your email list?