Turn Your Nonprofit Website Into An Email Capturing Machine


“Email is dead. No one reads their email anymore.”

You might have heard this before and you might hear it again – but not from me! I think email is one of the most powerful tools available to my nonprofit clients.


What’s email got to do with it?

All nonprofits, regardless of their size or mission, can do great things with an email list. Is your nonprofit interested in any of these email-friendly goals…

  • Raise money
  • Advocate on a local, state or national level
  • Increase attendance at your events
  • Recruit volunteers
  • Share news and resources about your nonprofit’s mission


“Email is dead! Long live social media!”

I love social media almost as much as I love email. There’s plenty of proof of my love over on Twitter and Instagram. But social media is not (yet?) a replacement for email marketing. Email and social media are complementary and they should *both* be in your nonprofit’s toolkit.


Your nonprofit website as an email capturing machine…

In three clear steps. Here we go.


Ask in all the right places

It’s important that your email signup box be in the right place at the right time. You want to capture a website visitor’s attention when they’re most interested and inspired… like when they just read a great article!

Put an email sign up form in these places on your website:

  • The sidebar
  • The footer
  • The homepage
  • The “Careers” or “Jobs” page
  • At the bottom of a resource or article
  • “Thank You” pages

Make your content desirable

Tell subscribers what they’ll be getting and why it’s going to be useful to them. You see this a lot on retail websites where they promise a coupon in exchange for your email address. As nonprofits, our version of coupons comes in the form of hope and warm fuzzies. Let subscribers know that your email messages will be full of the good stuff that they want to hear: “Join our email list for news about progress in breast cancer research.” Remember to repeat this message in the thank you email message that subscribers receive when they subscribe and on the thank you page subscribers see right after they submit the form.

Assure subscribers that your organization will respect their privacy. Just add a little line right underneath the subscription form: “We respect your privacy. We will not share your email address.” Mention it, but don’t link to the privacy policy in the form as research has shown that it distracts potential subscribers. Instead, link to your organization’s privacy policy in the website footer.

Use social proof to reassure potential subscribers that your organization’s content is going to be great. For example, “Over 10,000 fellow Chicagoans subscribe to the our Food Bank Weekly” is a strong piece of social proof. It’s a compelling statement that tells potential subscribers that this Food Bank Weekly thing must be worth a read.


Create a beautiful frame

We all like to look at pretty things, so make it easy for website visitors to admire your email signup form! Make the email signup box a bold, contrasting color so that it stands out against the rest of your page.

Use an arrow in the submit button. It will help catch people’s eye as they scan your page.

Keep the email signup box down to one field. If you can’t get it down to one field, then keep it to two fields. If you can’t get it down to two fields, then keep it to three fields. You get the idea. Fewer fields in your email signup box will encourage more people to enter their information.


Did this article spark some questions or ideas?

Tweet me! I’d love to hear from you.


yesenia sotelo

About Yesenia Sotelo

Yesenia Sotelo is a digital skills teacher and web developer.

She elevates ambitious nonprofit professionals by teaching them how to use the technology tools of modern marketing.

Yesenia can teach you how to use website analytics or improve your online marketing results.

Her SmartCause Method for building websites is especially designed for the way nonprofits collaborate, make decisions and grow.

She won the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN) for her work teaching digital skills to nonprofit professionals.