If someone is not interested in hearing from you, they are likely to either unsubscribe or just completely ignore your communications. You need to do everything you can to ensure that the people on your list want to be there. Start by looking to the people who already receive your printed newsletters and other mailings. These are the individuals who already have shown they want to receive communications from you. Yet you still can't just send them unsolicited e-mails. You must first send out a message to them asking if they want to opt-in to digital communications from your organization.
If you do not already have their e-mail addresses, you can send your direct mail subscribers mail promoting your e-mail resources. Make sure the link you give them is easy enough to be typed.
Another way to build up your list is to make promotions for your online presence. Create an easy-to-find link that leads visitors to your e-mail subscription page. You can also post messages on Facebook or Twitter promoting it. People who actively engage your online resources are most likely to be receptive to digital communications, so they are prime candidates to target.
With a little effort, your organization can expand its reach to a broader constituency of people with similar interests and, potentially, its ability to mobilize and fundraise. Growing an email list requires a little strategy and forethought, and retaining the people on that list requires a steady stream of relevant, engaging content. It’s a work in progress, but the rewards can far outweigh the effort.