YOU can turn your email capture device into a Facebook app

chfUsing our step-by-step instructions, you can turn the email capture device you’re already using on your organization’s website into a Facebook app. This will allow you to gather email signups where your prospective constituents already are—and even target them with an inexpensive Facebook ad campaign.

We’ll use the example of our client Children’s Health Fund, and their Speak Up For Kids Facebook app. CHF uses Blackbaud Luminate, and Donordigital created their original email capture petition using the Luminate Survey module. These instructions will work for any email capture tool with both a secure and non-secure URL. Here we go!

Step One: Prepare your email capture device

  1. Prepare your email capture tool/Luminate survey in whichever system your organization uses.
  2. You’ll need both a secure and non-secure URL version of the Luminate Survey (or whatever email capture device you’ve created).

Here are step-by-step instructions for Blackbaud Luminate users:

  • Edit the survey you would like to turn into a Facebook app
  • Ensure that the “Yes, make this a secure survey” box is checked under “Survey Security.”
  • Click “Publish Survey” in the left-hand navigation. On this screen, you should see the “Survey URL.” Copy this to include in your new FB App Settings. This will be the non-secure url, which looks like this for our CHF example: ID=2700
  • Visit the non-secure survey in a web browser. The Convio system will redirect to the secure version. Copy the secure version of the url to use in the new FB App settings. It looks like this for CHF: ID=2700

Step Two: Register for a Facebook Developer Account and Create a New App

  1. Have a Facebook account. (You know you already do.) Log in.
  2. Become an admin for your nonprofit’s FB page, if you aren’t already.
  3. Go here:
  4. Register for the Developer App
  5. Upon confirmation, etc., go to Apps > Create a New App
  6. Fill out the pop-up and click Create App.
    Display name: The app’s title
    Namespace: This will become the vanity URL
    Select “Apps for Pages” as the Category (this means the app will live on your org’s Facebook page).
  7. You should now be on the “Dashboard” view of your new app. The remaining setup for your new FB app will happen in the Settings menu.

Step Three: Configure Your App In Facebook

  1. Go to “Settings” in the left-hand navigation
  2. You have two app domains. Enter your org’s website URL without the http://www (for example, Hit return. In the same field, add the first portion of your secure website URL (for many of you, it will be Hit return.
  3. Click “Add Platform,” and choose “App on Facebook”
  4. Paste the non-secure URL to the “Canvas URL” field
  5. Paste the secure URL to the “Secure Canvas URL” field
  6. Click the “Add Platform” button again, and this time, add “Page Tab”
  7. Configure the page tab info. In the case of CHF, our Page Tab Name is “Speak Up For Kids,” the Page Tab URL is the non-secure version URL of the Luminate survey, and the Secure Page Tab URL is the secure version URL of the Luminate survey. Add an image that will display for the page tab on your org’s Facebook page.

Step Four: Add the new Facebook App as a Tab on Your Org’s Facebook page

  1. Ensure you are logged in as an admin to your org’s FB.
  2. In order to add the new app to your org’s Facebook page, you’ll need to replace a couple of URL parameters and visit an amended version of this URL: APP_ID&next=YOUR_URL
  3. Replace “YOUR_APP_ID” with the App ID of your new FB App, which can be found in the “Settings” section of your new FB App. Replace “YOUR_URL” with the Canvas URL of your new FB App, which can be found in the “Settings” section of your new FB App, under App on Facebook — Canvas Page.
  4. Choose your org’s Facebook page in the drop-down on the “Add Page Tab” pop-up box that will appear.
  5. Your app is now magically connected to your org’s FB page.
  6. As a page admin, you can now re-order your org’s tabs.

For more documentation on developing Facebook Apps, visit:

Walking through these steps will enable you to DIY your app. And if you’d like to do something more involved, or if you’d like some strategy consulting help, you’re always free to contact us at Donordigital.

Wendy Marinaccio Husman is a Senior Account Executive with Donordigital. Jesse Kelsey is Senior Developer with Donordigital. Call us if you need help or advice! Donordigital helps nonprofit organizations, campaigns, and socially responsible businesses use the Internet for fundraising, advocacy, advertising, and marketing. We provide strategy and implementation to enable organizations to use e-mail, the Web, Facebook, mobile, and other communications to build their constituencies and change the world. 

Grow your email list without spending money

Many nonprofits understand the importance of growing their email list but simply don’t have the funds to invest in list-building efforts. We’ve compiled a guide to the best free strategies to build your file without spending a dime.

Organizations must consistently build their housefile email list to counteract list churn—the inevitable people who unsubscribe, get a new job and leave the email address they used to subscribe to your list, or just stop opening your messages.

Clear the path to signup on your website

Your home page likely has many calls to action and calls for attention, so it can be difficult to make the case to include email signup in your website masthead and on the home page. In addition, so many people now visit your site on mobile devices that it may be hard to access those fields even if they exist. A best practice is to place the organic email signup box above the fold on your home page—top right is a typical spot.

In addition, you may want to consider an email signup lightbox on the home page that pops up to request people join your list.

Any internal Web pages that receive a lot of traffic should also have an email signup box. In addition, pages like the News & Information page and the E-Newsletter page should offer a signup box.

Finally, take a look at your email signup survey itself. Is it a length that discourages completion or are the data entry fields below the fold? A best practice is to simply ask for name and email address and gather additional information later, once you have the person signed up.

Example from Food & Water Watch (click to enlarge):

Example from Human Rights Campaign (click to enlarge):

Online actions

For any actions your organization is already conducting online, ensure email address is being captured (petitions, pledges, etc). It’s also important to make sure you are overtly communicating that a person is being added to the house file, and will receive ongoing email messages. You may need to work cross-departmentally at your organization to accomplish this.

A great (yet time-consuming) way to promote email signup is to create a fun contest, quiz, or raffle. You will need to use your organization’s resources of partnerships and staff time to promote the quiz or contest as widely as possible once it has been created. An added bonus is that these efforts can be shared with friends who may also be inspired to join the list.

Example from No Kid Hungry (click to enlarge):

List exchange

List exchange is a technique whereby like-minded nonprofits will each send a message to their lists on behalf of one another. The size of the lists exchanged should be equal, and typically organizations choose to suppress donors from these messages.

An example of a list exchange: the San Francisco AIDS Foundation would send a message to its constituents promoting a Project Open Hand. Recipients would be encouraged to sign up for Project Open Hand’s initiative or action, thus signing up for their email list. A few days later, Project Open Hand sends a message to its list promoting San Francisco AIDS Foundation. Typically these messages include some sort of action to be taken (signing a petition, etc).

The organization with the smaller list goes first and then that number of email addresses is matched by the other organization. The two organizations compare lists at the beginning to exclude crossover. These exchanges are usually done through a third party agency (like Donordigital), similar to the way direct mail lists are exchanged through a list broker, to ensure that everything is carefully coordinated.

Chaperoned Email

Chaperoned emails are sent on your behalf by a corporate sponsor or other community partner to its own house file or employee list. The message would talk about the great work of your nonprofit and why that organization supports you, or could be a “forward” message from your nonprofit to their list.

Examples of chaperoned emails:

  • A local business sends a message to its own email list describing the work of your nonprofit with a personal story explaining the reasons why the owners/staff are involved. They invite their customers to join them in some sort of action on your behalf and ask them to join your email list, with a link to your website email signup form.
  • A community partner sends an email to its list introducing a “forward” from your nonprofit’s Executive Director. Their message would explain why they support you and why they think their house file should read your message. The “forwarded” portion of the message would describe your work and a recent issue and invite people to join your list to stay up-to-date.
  • A corporation sends a message to its internal employee list describing its support of your work over the years and recommending its employees sign up for your email list; everyone who joins will be entered into a raffle for a chance to win something provided by the corporation.

Social Media

Promote your email list on Facebook and Twitter. Request email signup in social media posts, and include an email signup component in anything you create that is sharable on social media.

Add a sign-up within Facebook if possible so that people do not need to leave Facebook to join your list. If you have created an action, quiz, or contest on your website with an email capture component, you can promote it on Facebook as well using “iframes” technology.

In-person efforts

Add email capture to your office receptionist’s and membership assistant’s script to gather email addresses when supporters contact you by phone.

Re-write your donor acknowledgement letters to mention your email list in thank-you letters and ask them to join. Also add an email address line to mailed donation response forms, with opt-in language setting the expectation that person will receive email from your organization. If these efforts are slow to take hold, you may consider offering a small incentive (like a decal or temporary tattoo) that can be easily mailed to the person if they submit their email address.

Ensure staff, volunteers, and others working out in the field on your behalf are gathering email addresses and getting them back to the office. If you have a physical location the general public will visit, include an email signup box there. You’ll need to be sure there is a procedure in place for email addresses to be hand-entered on a regular basis.


All efforts that increase site traffic are likely to improve the chances of the signup box being successful. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) will help in that regard and can even be geared toward list building as a goal. You can direct more people to your website by optimizing use of your (free) Google Grant (or paying for search terms if you do not qualify for one). If the email signup box is easy to find, this should result in additional organic signup.

You can also adapt your Search strategy to direct people to sign up for your house file. You may want to create a special search landing page explaining your work and why people should sign up for your list, with a short email signup form.

You can also request email signup directly in a Google Ad, like this example from Crate & Barrel (click to enlarge):

Third Party Sources

Look into campaigns with organizations that allow you to gather email signups for free on their site.,, CARE2 and Causes are community Web portals that allow you to create actions on their site and will send you contact information for the people who sign up.

Once your organization is ready to make a financial investment in growing your list, working with co-registration vendors like and Care2, placing paid advertising, and sending chaperoned messages with publications like Mother Jones and Alternet are a great way to continue building your list and create a good balance of organic list members and people who would not otherwise have known about your work.

Follow Up

It’s important to keep tabs on your own house file and know your own benchmarks. As you increase your list-building efforts and conversion efforts, you know what to continue to invest your resources in, whether that is time, requests of partners, or financial.

Recommended benchmarks to set and then keep an eye on are the number of new list joins per month and new list abandoners per month as well as email performance metrics (open, click-through & unsubscribe rates) for your new constituents. Plan in advance so you have a method to identify how people are joining the list. Source codes in URLs are a good method.

Once you bring new folks onto your email list, you’ll need to have a stellar “welcome series” of messages ready for them right away.

Tune in to a future edition of the Donordigital newsletter for ideas for how to reduce churn on your house file.

Wendy Marinaccio is a Senior Account Executive at Donordigital, the online fundraising, marketing, and advertising company. 

Using mobile phone marketing to build an email list

AIDS Walk San Francisco benefitting our client the San Francisco AIDS Foundation just took place July 21, 2013. Over 20,000 people walked in Golden Gate Park in support of HIV prevention and care. The San Francisco AIDS Foundation took advantage of the opportunity to grow its email list at the event by promoting a text-to-join program, gaining nearly 700 new email subscribers at the event.

San Francisco AIDS Foundation promoted a sweepstakes in which they gave away an iPad in exchange for joining the email list via SMS. They worked with Mobile Commons to create a 3-step series of texts to gather AIDS walkers’ full name and email address. Approximately 1,000 people started the series and 90% of them made it all the way through the process.

San Francisco AIDS Foundation followed up the next day with an email message thanking them for participating in the walk and joining the list, and confirming their name and email address—and a few days later with an e-newsletter focused on event photos and impact. The first message had a whopping 50% open rate and 0% unsubscribe rate; the second email had a 38% open rate and 17% click through rate with only 2 unsubscribes.

In addition to raising $2.5 million in order to provide free HIV prevention and care services to their clients, the San Francisco AIDS Foundation also gained an engaged new list segment.

Wendy Marinaccio is a Senior Account Executive at Donordigital, the online fundraising, marketing, and advertising company.  Contact:

The Convio Online Marketing Nonprofit Benchmark Index Study

Gene Austin wrote in the June 2011 issue of Mal Warwick’s Newsletter that Convio recently released its fifth annual Online Marketing Nonprofit Benchmark Index™ Study designed to help nonprofit professionals understand beneficial online marketing metrics, evaluate the effectiveness of their organization compared to similar organizations and determine strategies for future success.

Key findings of the 2011 study include:

  • Online fundraising continues to grow. Overall, 79% of organizations included in the report raised more in 2010 than 2009.
  • Advocacy continues to play an important role. Total number of advocates on file increased by 20%, and 6.4% of advocates on file were also donors, up from 5.9% in 2009.
  • An increase in gift count and average gift size primarily drove fundraising gains. This indicates more people are moving online to give even if inspired through other channels.
  • Email files continued to grow strongly.  The median total email file grew 22% to 48,700 constituents. The increase in people engaging online means organizations need to ensure their communications and fundraising asks match the channel preferences for their constituents if they hope to maximize the value of each relationship.
  • Haiti relief played a strong role in growing aggregate online fundraising. The vertical most impacted by the Haiti event was the Disaster & Relief vertical, growing 38% from 2009 to 2010. Independent of the Haiti event, however, Disaster & Relief still grew at a healthy 23% from 2009 to 2010.

The entire report as a PDF can be downloaded here.

Email client market share

Here at Donordigital, we obsess about “email clients,” which are the various software tools that people use to read the email they receive. Our obsession derives from the fact that we have to test every email message campaign that we send out for our clients. Most of the time that goes smoothly.  Once in a while, an email message won’t render correctly in, say, Microsoft Outlook 2004.

Email clients fall into three general categories: desktop software such as Microsoft Outlook or Apple Mail, webmail in the cloud such as Hotmail, Yahoo! Mail or Gmail, and then various email clients installed on mobile devices like iPhones or Blackberry.

Which got us wondering about the top email clients in use today.  Not surprisingly, various analysts have studied this issue.  We tracked down a 2010 report which shows the current state of the email client market, with data from almost 250 million email recipients.

Here’s the Top 10 email clients in decending order of estimated market share:

  • Microsoft Outlook – 43%*
  • Hotmail – 17%
  • Yahoo! Mail – 13%
  • Gmail – 5%
  • Apple Mail – 4%
  • iPhone – 4%
  • Thunderbird – 2.4%
  • Windows Live Mail (Desktop) – 2%
  • AOL Mail – 1.2%
  • Lotus Notes – 0.4%
  • Others – 8%

* Outlook 2003 and earlier – 34%

* Outlook 2007 – 9%

Read about this report

8 good online fundraising resources that help us learn

While the basic principles of online fundraising aren’t changing fast, the tools and tests of the ways that work are.  So it’s really worthwhile to keep up with the cleverest people in the world who are writing about them.  Here are 10 sources that can help you raise more money (and avoid some big mistakes).  Most are available as email newsletters, RSS feeds, or apps.

  1. The Agitator.  If your organization is cutting its budget and you can only afford one daily email, this is the one!  (Just kidding, it’s free.) Tom Belford and Roger Craver consistently find the most important research and campaigns and write passionately about them.
  2. Mashable, the indispensable mega-site covering social media, includes substantial coverage of nonprofit issues in the “social good” section.
  3. Beth Kanter.  Whether she’s in Beirut or Boston, Beth manages to turn out a daily post which usually contains at least one nugget, if not a complete how-to on a new trend in social networking. Sample: “I had the pleasure of experimenting with a text polling app to find out the composition of the audience and their experience with…how to integrate the use of mobile technology into multi-channel campaigns with an emphasis on social…    So, while we were waiting,  I asked the panelists to take bets….”
  4. Katya’s Non-Profit Marketing Blog.  Katya Andresen, COO of Network for Good, always has useful and provocative ideas on online marketing.
  5. Kira Marchenese’s Online Communications for Nonprofits. Insights on social media and web usability for nonprofits always has news you can use.  In recent posts, Kira, director of Internet communications at Environmental Defense Fund, writes about RFPs and “why most Facebook marketing doesn’t work.”
  6. Chronicle of Philanthropy’s daily “Philanthropy Today” newsletter.  Indispensible coverage of the sector based on the Chronicle’s own excellent stories as well as major media coverage.
  7. Mark Phillips’ “Queer Ideas.” The head of London’s Bluefrog agency explores what’s working and what’s not from the UK point of view.  From a recent post: “Choice is becoming a buzzword in fundraising. But just how important is it? …organisations like Kiva, DonorsChoose and CRUK (with MyProjects) have done rather well by offering people a chance to decide how their donations are used. …But is choice the key factor that lies behind this level of fundraising success?”
  8. UK Fundraising.  A UK version of the Chronicle, this weekly newsletter includes news you can use even if you’ve never heard of the organizations making it. Sample: “As part of its annual Cards for a Cure™ campaign, Hallmark Cards is asking adults and children to declare their love for their mother on an online ‘Mums Wall’, with the most ‘liked’ messages turned into…”

Nick Allen is co-founder and chief strategy officer of Donordigital, the online fundraising, marketing, and advertising company.  Contact: or phone (510) 473-0366.