Creating Credibility & Culture: Part VI Lead Generator for Nonprofits

Lead generators, oftentimes known as free opt-ins or email list builders, are essential for nonprofits. Online businesses have this down to a T and use lead generators on a regular basis. Lead generators are catching on in the nonprofit sector and websites, but some of you still may be saying, “Lead-what?” Just what is a lead generator?

Believe me – you know what they are, you just might not have known what it is called.

Think of a FREE planning toolkit that you can download, if you just click on a box, enter your name and e-mail and hit send. A few seconds later an e-mail comes to your inbox with the FREE planning toolkit as a cool PDF that you print out and use.

Okay, that is an example, but it can be countless items that you give your e-mail address for in exchange for, usually, a virtual document. Suddenly you are on their mailing list and receiving e-mails from these businesses. Some of them you religiously open because you get so much value and they resonate with the person, organization, or company. Countless others go to your spam and you never see them again.

Okay, Holly, I get why businesses want to use this strategy, so they can continue to pitch products to me from time to time, but why would my nonprofit want a lead generator when we don’t have any products?

A lead generator isn’t necessarily a slimy way to market products. You don’t even need a traditional ‘product.’ It is a way to develop a relationship with people who are interested in what you do and what you stand for.

By developing these relationships, you will build a larger community…. that you can market to in the future. Maybe your goal is to build a volunteer base, a potential donor list, or you to reach out to future beneficiaries. This can be done by developing e-mail lists. You may want to do all three of these things, and when you have a mailing list you can begin to build these types of relationships.

Don’t I need fancy software or apps to build my e-mail list?

Nope. You can just have the e-mail collection go right to your e-mail contact list.

Or you can use online programs, such as MailChimp (free until you hit 2,000 contacts!), Convertkit, or any number of platforms. Sure, when you scale you might hit some costs, but by then because of the scaling you should be getting some type of real benefit and the cost will be worth it.

Lead Generator as Value

A lead generator is actually – I feel – an admiral way to build your lists as you are offering something of value in return for an e-mail address. Sending e-mails has proven to be much more effective for conversion rates compared to social media – although do not stop cranking out social media.

I remember, about a year ago, it was cool to put your Instagram feeds or other social media on your website. Now people are screaming, “take it off!” Why? It’s better to use social media to drive people to your website to take a call to action rather than take them from your non-distracting website to social media where they will find a million distractions.

Keep them on your website so they can really see what your organization is doing, and hopefully take action. We talked about the “call to action” in the last podcast. As a reminder, a call to action is when people take a specific action on your website. This could be as simple as a “Learn More” button where you direct them to further resources, to donate to a specific cause, to sign up for an event, or to subscribe to your mailing list, etc. But whatever it is be consistent throughout your website.

Your call to action really depends on what you want visitors to do when they come across your website. Are you trying to get more volunteers? Are you hoping to build a list of donors? Or do you want to simply give more information and resources to people for particular causes?

For any of these cases, you want to clearly lead them towards that action. This is where the lead generator comes in as a handy, relationship-building tool.

Take Action

The lead generator will persuade people to actually take that action. If you are a nonprofit for community gardening, with the mission to “enhance health with cost-effectiveness for city dwellers” and the slogan: Fresh food, a fraction of the cost. Then you might want your call to action to be “download the top ten healthy recipes that cost less than $10 each,” and your lead generator will be that list of the top ten healthy recipes.

When the visitor clicks on this offer a box appears where they enter their e-mail address and name.

Depending on what you use for your e-mail address collection, you could then automate the checklist to be sent and even schedule for additional e-mails to go out over the next few weeks.

In this way, you would automatically start to develop a relationship with that person and showcase all the cool stuff that your nonprofit is doing, while offering value.

But don’t make the subsequent e-mail to be “donate $10 a month to receive more information!”

Give them a few more e-mails first before you ask for the giving. Maybe send them a subsequent email with a video that describes the different types of vegetables grown and with some testimonials for people that own plots.

Then send them an e-mail a couple of weeks later on the plants that are grown in your gardens, and follow up with a featured story on someone who owns a plot and how it has changed their life. Ask for money strategically after the relationship is established, even if it does seem one-sided. Always ask them to reach out to you if they have any questions about community gardens. And be sure to invite them to special events in your gardens during the full moon or when you have special occasions.

“The point is to give and give and give, for no other reason than to entertain your customers and make them feel like you get them.” ~ Gary Vaynerchuk, Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook

This is really great as you will be collecting e-mail addresses and ultimately building your volunteer, donor, or beneficiary list even when you are sleeping. Very cool! So you can see why nonprofits shouldn’t brush off what for-profits have been doing for quite a while.

Can you imagine the impact this will have for visitors to your website? They suddenly don’t become a mass that you can’t pinpoint. Now they become targeted markets that are interested in what you are doing and want to be more involved.

I hope you can see why your lead generator is so important and how it doesn’t have to be a huge, overwhelming project!

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