How to build up your email list: before, during, and after an event

build your email list copyEmail lists are super important for a ton of reasons; the most important of which is that they allow your organization to quickly reach a large number of people who have actively expressed interest in your cause organization. But sometimes building those lists can be hard. The thing to keep in mind about it though, is that you only have to build your list once, and the payoff will last for years and years!

If you haven’t done so already, the first thing you should plan to do is to set up an email marketing account. Constant Contact, AWeber, and MailChimp are three options that offer similar services free or low cost. The reason you’ll want to do this is so you can easily send professional looking bulk emails to your list, with an unsubscribe button (hey, it’s better than getting marked as spam!), and which will generate reports that include the rate at which your emails are opened, and so much more.

Ok, so you’ve set up your account and now you need to pre-populate your list. Start with the obvious. Invite those who are directly associated with the organization to join your list. If your organization supports children in some way (maybe a youth athletic team for example) think about asking the parents of those children to join your list. Are you setting this up for a church or community group? Invite your members to join your email list. We’ll call all these people your core group, because they have a vested interest in your organization doing well.

What’s the next step? Ask your core group to spread the word. Would they consider sending out an email to their family and friends inviting them to join the list? If every member of your core group can bring in a couple more people, your list will start to grow exponentially.

I know what you’re thinking… This seems like a lot of work.  But don’t worry, it’s going to pay off!

Ok, so, you’ve built up this list. It isn’t amazingly huge, but it’s full of people who have an interest in what you’re doing. Your organization decides to host a fundraising event. Maybe it’s a bake sale, maybe it’s a tricky tray, or maybe it’s something else. Whatever it is, write an email and send it off to your email list asking them to support you. If you have a website or Facebook page you should also plan to use that as a vehicle for getting people onto your list. Contact and newsletter subscription forms are good, but check out HelloBar ( It is a bar that sits along the top of your website and allows people to easily sign up for updates. Folks just enter their email address and click submit. It’s that easy.

Your event is finally here, and guess what?… You have a great turn out. Your emails really worked, as did all those posters you put up around town. Take this opportunity to collect some more email addresses. Having a door prize raffle where people can drop in their email for a chance to win is a great way to collect some more addresses.

But why should we do with all these emails? Even if you’re not planning to do a regular newsletter, my guess is this isn’t the only fundraising event you’ll be having. And as your email list grows you will start to reap the benefits of being able to reach more and more people.

After your event you should plan to email your list thanking them for their support. Share a personal story, and encourage them once again to share your organization with their family and friends.  The cycle continues.

Media and Marketing at Ultimate Donations
Jaime is the conceptual mastermind behind, a website that helps nonprofits find and request product donations for fundraising events. When she is not helping nonprofit events to reach their fullest potential, she's spending time with her two adorable girls, volunteering within her local community, and sneaking leftover Halloween candy when no one is looking.