Karen’s organization has a partner who offered them a list of 25,000 email addresses. Her boss wants to just add them to their email service provider, but Karen doesn’t agree. In episode 5, Jeremy gives Karen advice as to how to answer her boss and what to do with the opportunity.


If you have a partner that offers to give you an asset like an email address list, what should you do with it? Should you take it? Should you email those people? Let’s explore that question today with Karen from a nonprofit in Colorado Springs.

My name is Karen and I work at a nonprofit in Colorado Springs. My boss and I have a disagreement about something. A partner of ours offered to give us their email list. It’s about 25,000 emails and would double our list. I don’t think we should add them to our email file without permission, but my boss thinks we should. He thinks if we just start emailing them, they won’t know they didn’t subscribe and they could become donors. What do you think?

Hi, Karen. Thanks so much for the question. I was just in the Springs. What a beautiful area of our country. This is a great problem to have, a partner that’s got a big email list that wants to help your organization. Of course, the problem is the one that you’ve identified there, is that when you’re presented this opportunity of these 25,000 email addresses, there’s a feeling that you may just want to add them to your email list. I have to agree with you, it is not a good decision to just add them to your email list, to email them and hope for the best. If you get too high of a spam report on those email addresses, then your email service provider may cut you off. Even worse yet is you’re probably not going to find that you’re going to get a great response from these people. They didn’t sign up for your email list, they signed up for someone else’s.

You want to do things in a way that respects the people that you email, even though some of them may end up becoming donors if you were to do something like. It really doesn’t respect the email address owner at all and so I do not recommend that you add those email addresses to your list and just go out and start sending emails to them, but there are some things that you can do to work with your partner in order to take advantage of their large list, and to move some of those people that may be interested in what your organization does, to become subscribers on your email list. I’ve got a couple of ideas here that you might want to run with that might introduce some people that have an affinity for your cause, and those people are going to be the most likely to donate anyway. There’s a couple of tactics that you can take.

One is to have your partner email their list and introduce your organization. The trick with this is you really want your partner to warm up the list to who you are, so you don’t want to have your partner send out an appeal to their list without really introducing your organization, finding some content that really tells the story of who you are, and the people that you serve, and other donors like the people that are reading the emails, other people that have donated to your organization. This is an opportunity for you to tell stories. Video is a great option here to tell a story of your organization and really warm up that story to the list of 25,000 that your partner has.

Another option is to ask people to sign up for your list via premium, so have your partner send an email to their list and offer up something that is related to your organization that is a premium that would allow them to then opt in to your list. If you do this correctly, or I guess not necessarily correctly, but in an easy fashion, you could build it in such a way that all somebody has to do is to click on a link in order to opt in, and if you message it right, then you can then have your partner than just export a list of people that have clicked on the link, which many email service providers will allow you to measure, and export that list, and then you can import that list into your email service provider. That will provide an opportunity for people to receive a premium that you’re offering them, but also knowing that those people have an affinity for your organization and they’ll know that you’re signing up for your organization.

Another thing is that your partner can after warming up the list, is to just ask their list in a direct appeal to raise funds. After they’ve taken some time to introduce your organization, they might offer up an appeal email to the list and ask people to donate to your organization. Finally, you can have the partner release his email addresses to you and upload those in order to target as an audience in Facebook ads, so you’re not directly emailing these people, but instead, you’ll do something like display videos to them, tell stories to them to warm them up to who your organization is, provide premium offers to them so that they can sign up for your email list.

Those are the options that I think would be the best kind of alternatives to just taking those 25,000 people, uploading them to your email service provider, and taking the risk of losing your email service provider, and making a lot of people really upset that you emailed them without permission. I think your insight there was correct. You do not want to just add them to your file, but instead, take a look at some of these other tactics on how you can take advantage of that partnership, and this offer, and really benefit both the people that are on that email list, and your organization. Thanks again for the question, Karen. I really appreciate it. Take care.

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