14 Ways To Increase Your Donor List

time pent on internet

1) Donors Have Gone Mobile

We have all seen the phenomenon. Go to any public place and watch how people interact. People are constantly on their mobile devices. At the mall, sitting in a restaurant, even driving (which is not recommended). Every generation seems to have caught on to the concept of being connected and to truly connect with potential donors, you have to meet them where they are.

time-spent-on-internet-by-device-in-usFor the first time in history, mobile device access to the internet now exceeds desktop usage. This means your online auction software must take this usage trend into account. Not only must your website be mobile compatible, but your online auctions, auction bids, event management, tickets sold, downloads, email sign ups, donation pages, demos, sales or branded information and customer service sections must all be mobile capable.

According to the latest, from the Online Publishers Association and research firm Frank N. Magid Associates:

  • 99.5% access content/information
  • 63.1% access the Internet
  • 62.1% check email
  • 49.2% listen to music
  • 46% play games
  • 41.7% download and use apps
  • 15% make purchases
  • 15% read a digital book

I hope you noticed that 62.1% of people are checking email on their mobile device. In today’s age, we must make it incredibly easy and even fun for our donors to interact with us if we wish to see our donor base continue to grow. I also believe that only 15% make purchases on their mobile device because most retailers have not yet made this easy to do. Using software like 24Fudraiser.com makes managing all of your auction, donation and event pages mobile compatible.

2) Add an email sign-up form everywhere donors go on your site.

There are many tactics that email marketers use to encourage prospects to give up their email address: content, ebooks, videos, software, just about anything that can be of value. For charities and fundraisers, it can be as simple as just asking your prospective donors to join your newsletter. Many charities and fundraising groups do not want to be seen as pushy and we completely agree. Some of the more pushy online marketers are continually bombarding their donors with solicitations. But you still need to meet your donors where they are, and that is online with email.

As you add these email sign up forms, make sure they grab attention. The forms can be big or small, even integrated with a full header as long as the message is simple, compelling and focuses the prospects attention.

als-email-signupYou will notice that on the ALS Association home page they have the “Sign up for our newsletter” right at the top. Great placement, but given all of the color on the page, I would have used a very eye grabbing image wrapping the sign up form so it stands out.


Charity: water has a wonderful homepage focused on an immediate “donate now” button with visually compelling graphics. The story is easily told, and I am sure their conversion rate is quite good. I would still offer an email sign up form next to, or just under the “donate now” button to engage those potential donors who are not currently able to support this cause.


The Ronald McDonald House has a decent idea with a newsletter pop-up that displays as soon as you visit the site. It certainly grabs attention, however many browsers and antivirus software will block these types of pop-ups. It has also been shown that users are annoyed by pop-ups. While donors may be more forgiving to groups and charities they want to support, we should still make our site as user friendly as possible.


While we do not currently offer a newsletter, we do follow our own advice offering a short contact sales form on every relevant page. This allows for us to engage our interested fundraisers both on the short and long term.

3) Make the email sign up as easy as possible

It is nice to have more detail on our donors and potential donors; name, address, phone, email, age, job, hobbies, etc. Truthfully though, most of this information is never used. All you really need is a potential donors email address to reach that person with an email that might engage them emotionally and have them support your fundraiser.

As email marketers, having at least their first name helps us write emails that seem more personable. And most donors have become use to giving a name and an email address to join an email list or newsletter. If you are mailing them printed information, then of course you need the physical address, but if you are building your email list, stick with just collecting a name and email address.
According to FormStack’s research, only 6% of users will fill out an average of 19 individual form fields on an order page, and people actually making donations will give even less tolerating only 9 form fields with a 4% conversion rate to make a donation.

kiss-metrics-form field

There is not a shortage of studies, like this one from Marketo, that have shown the more form fields included in the sign up, the lower the number of sign ups. Just remember, get only the information you need to connect with your potential donor. You can always have a more detailed page for your donor to enter more information if they want you to call or mail them.


4) Address your donors’ privacy concerns.

Most charities and fundraisers are looked upon as noble organizations with the general population. Still their average online consumer has had more than their share of entering their name, phone number and email into a form, only to receive 100’s of emails and phone calls from unrelated offers.

If you didn’t know, many unscrupulous marketers will pose as genuine fundraising groups, simply to garner donations and keep the email/customer list that they then sell to spam marketers. Make sure you tell your subscribers that you respect their privacy, and you will never spam them or sell their email. Always included an easy “unsubscribe” link in every communication. Most bigger email list managers, like AWeber or MailChimp require these links. Turns out, the easier you make it to unsubscribe, the less people will feel the need to do so as long as you are living up to your promise not to spam them.


5) Create a dedicated newsletter “squeeze” page

A “squeeze” page is a designated page that is designed only to build your email donor list. While we discussed placing “forms” on the relevant pages, a “squeeze” page is a page where you discuss exactly what you are giving in value for your potential donors email.

This page is a dedicated marketing page that can be linked to the email contact form so that potential joiners to your list can read more about your offer. This page should include a powerful headline and either an offer like: in demand content, a newsletter or even tips. These pages can include video, audio, samples of newsletters, updates to the progress made and anything else you believe is compelling in telling your marketing story.

This page can also include a comments type section that will allow your donors, members, volunteers and even potential donors to leave comments, ask questions and engage in the first step of the process. Even a simple Twitter feed that allows others to comment and support your group will foster the human connection with like minded donors. With just a little human interaction on this page you will likely see your donor list grow even faster.

This is also the perfect place to address your donors’ privacy concerns as mentioned in the last section.

Here is a sample ebook squeeze page. Notice, they request more information than I would suggest on the form fields.

charity-squeeze-page-ebookThis is a good example of a newsletter squeeze page by Charity: water that includes many of the components we have discussed.

charity-water-newsletter-email-pageAnd here is the Red Cross newsletter squeeze page. It also includes a sign up link, past newsletters and a Twitter feed to include some components of social interaction.


6) Include “thank you” testimonials on your email sign up page

This fits perfectly with including social media or a “comments” section on your sign up page. If you are able to display testimonials or a “thank you for your support” type note from actual donors, volunteers or even the groups, it will help you add another layer of trust to the whole process.

Text, audio or video testimonials all work, but make sure they are honest and true. If you don’t have any current testimonials, then ask your groups to give them to you. If you have raised money for the children’s sports group in the past, then ask the coaches, children or even parents what they thought of the equipment and how the season turned out.

Example: If you raise money for animals, ask the volunteers and/or employees who actually work with the animals to provide a testimonial. Have them talk about how your group impacts the animals in whatever environment they work in.

The point is to be creative. Think about the types of messages that would impact your potential donors, then ask for those types of testimonials.


7) Use social media and Subscribe-Via-Facebook options

Social media sites have also become a very effective place to not only collect donations, but also collect email addresses of potential donors. On Facebook, place your sign up form on your FanPage so potential donors can join your newsletter or email list.

You can also use “Social Logins” to allow potential joiners to join your website or email list by simply logging in through the social media site like LinkedIn or Facebook. According to janrain – US Consumer Research 2011, research shows that nearly 8 in 10 respondents prefer to log in to sites using a social identity. And those who are active on social networks are more likely to comment on your charity or fundraiser. At the same time, they’re more easily influenced by what others say on social sites which is why testimonials and honesty are so important.


8) Include a “Sign Up” or “Join” button inside your newsletter and email communications

Always ask anyone reading your email to join your newsletter or email communications. A “Sign Up”, “Join” or even a simple text link to your subscription page is an effective tool to garner more attention and add potential donors.

This is a tool that should be used by all of your volunteers, employees, contributors and other associated parties in the signature of every email as well as all newsletter type emails. As business emails are forwarded or newsletters are shared, thousands of potential donors will become aware of your cause and possibly join your group.


9) Share your past newsletters or communications

Create a directory of your past communications, group emails and newsletters. Make it easier for potential donors to see what, and how often, you will contact them. Encourage your existing members to forward your newsletters (which include your sign up form) through social media or friends.

The more informed your potential donors are about your current fundraising, the easier it is for potential donors to join your list.

If you also include easily copied links to each of your archived newsletters or communications, it can help with both referral and search engine traffic.


10) Share, share and share some more

An often overlooked component to growing your awareness and donor list is including the tried and true “Share This” or “Forward to a Friend” links in your newsletters and group emails. These links should not just forward the email, but should allow for easy sharing through social media sites.

All marketers know that “word of mouth” marketing is the most powerful viral technique that a group or fundraiser can have. Someone willing to tell their friends and families about all of the good deeds your organization is doing is a powerful advocate. While I don’t truly believe that forwarding social media is as good as an advocate actually talking about your group, it is the second best thing.

It has been shown in many studies that information shared online by friends or members of the same group is 10 times more likely to be read, and in turn shared. So make sure to include those links in every newsletter and group email.


11) Add opt-in check boxes to donation, event and auction credit card payments

This is another often overlooked, yet easy way to increase your email list. Simply add an “opt in” box to every credit card (or any transaction) on your website asking the donor to join your newsletter or email list.

credit-card-checkout-with-eFrom my past experience, it is better to have the opt-in box “un-checked” by default. It is true, if the box is already “checked” you will get more email sign ups. But that first email to confirm they joined (known as a double opt in) will likely be ignored or they will simply “opt out” at that time giving you a rather high “unsubscribe” rate.

12) Use your physical mailing list with a Personalized URLS (PURLs)

Many fundraising groups will have a physical mailing list of past donors and volunteers. While direct mail still works wonderfully, it is not as fast, nor can it create as much leverage as an online email campaign. Direct mail can also become very expensive if you are sending creative or odd shaped marketing pieces, even though these types of marketing pieces have the best conversion rate.

An easy way to convert your physical mailing list into an “opt in” email is to send a direct mail postcard that includes a personalized URL and message for each person on the mailing list. The basic premise is to set up a personal web based landing page for each person on the direct mail list and dynamically generate these PURL’s on each direct mail piece. An example of how this might look would be:


Where both:



are the personalized data.

This PURL would take Mary to a dynamically generated website that has Mary’s name on it. It will list information about your organization and what your have achieved, with a call to action button to donate and to join the newsletter or email list. These types of campaigns usually have a very high conversion rate.

13) Add incentives to sign up

Does your group regularly give out t-shirts, stickers or other items that your volunteers and donors can proudly display? If so you can add a “give away” to your email capture form. Simply state “join our newsletter and automatically be entered to receive our [marketing item]. From this form, you can either have your developer create a script that will randomly select a certain number of new people to receive your item, or you can randomly select them.


14) Claim your group page and make sure you link to your website

On 24Fundraiser, we are committed to not only supplying you with the best tools possible to easily raise funds, but we also want to help you connect with potential donors looking to support a cause just like yours.

Make sure to join our Group pages and complete as much information as possible. You can look your group up by State – City – Name or simply search our database. Just start here!


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