Posted by Jay Wilkinson

One of the keys to successful online fundraising is having an updated, fully functioning email list. But before we talk about how to get people to opt-in to your email program, let’s look a little at why people opt out.

The number one reason people unsubscribe from a nonprofit’s email program is, they say, “I’m getting too many emails from this organization.” The number two reason: They no longer believe that the content is relevant to them.

These are the major reasons why people opt out—now let’s look at how to motivate people to opt in.

1. Have an email signup form on your homepage.
Don't make people seach for it on your site—let them find it quickly and easily. Also, be clear what they're signing up for. Add a short descriptive sentence saying wha type of information users will recieve (and maybe how often) via email so they know exactly what to expect.

2. Put an opt-in form on your Facebook page.
Gathering email addresses is one of the great ways to take advantage of the traffic and the utility of Facebook.

3. Make the opt-in process easy.
For example, stay away from using Captchas or other hurdles that can drive people crazy when filling out a form. A Captcha is that little thing that pops up and says, “type in the words you see below” when you’re filling out a form. It’s so frustrating because you can barely read what it says, and sometimes you have to go back and try it three or four times before you get it right. Captchas are there to protect our websites and forms from the spam bots, but they really make the opt-in process a pain for your users.

4. Only ask for information you really need.
Research has proven that the more information people have to fill out, the higher the abandon rate on forms. Don’t ask for personal information that you don’t need. When you’re gathering email addresses, you may just need their address and maybe a zip code—not even their full name. Your opt-in process should just be a matter of gathering necessary information and allowing users to “get in and get out” quickly.

5. Gather email addresses offline.
An event is the perfect time to solicit email addresses. You could do something as simple as placing a piece of paper on the table and write in big clear letters on the bottom, “We promise to never give your email address to anyone; this is just between you and us.” And at the top, “Please sign up to receive valuable information and updates from our organization.” When people are at an event, that’s when they’re fired up and passionate about what your organization does. What better time to get them on board?