nonprofit engagement

Part 1: How to Build an Effective Online Community

This is part one of how to build an effective online community, starting at the top of the funnel with email capture.

In order to build an effective online community we encourage all our clients to use a multiple touch point strategy. At Media Cause we’ve found that the most loyal supporters are those who connect with an organization on multiple platforms and have multiple touch points with an organization. In our experience, a supporter who’s on an email list, a fan on Facebook, and receives a monthly newsletter is more likely to give.

The first step to an effective online community begins at the top of the funnel with email capture. As many of you know, a “subscribe here” button or an email slide-in, is no longer sufficient to build an entire email list. You need something more to gain the leads you need to be successful, but how does an organization obtain those email addresses? (No, list buying is not the answer.)

The answer is simple, Google Ad Grants. Use your grant to drive qualified traffic to landing pages that contain gated content. In return for an email address and maybe a few other tid bits of information you’ll provide a user with the content they are looking for. (*If you do not have a Google Ad Grant apply for one NOW!)

Below outlines an example of the an email capturing strategy from our client Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Step #1

Find out which keywords are being searched and what content you have available. It’s important to have the most granular topic as possible. Google Ad Grants has a cap of $2, which makes AdWords for nonprofits a bit competitive. The more granular you are with your keywords, the more likely you’ll be able to afford them and the greater value the ad will have for the user.

 Step #2

Next, create effective landing pages focused around these content ideas and keywords. If “Green Recipes’ is a commonly searched term, create a landing page around “Sustainable Green Recipes” or if “Owl Sounds” is a commonly searched term create a page on “How to Identify an Owl Sound.” Below is an example of a best practice landing page.

online community

Step #3

Use your nonprofits Google Ad Grants account to setup ad campaigns around the landing page keywords and concepts, and direct traffic directly to your landing pages for free. If you need help setting up campaigns check out this guide.

online community

There’s no need to buy email lists filled with uninterested supporters and spamming users with your nonprofits email. Email subscribers are choosing to subscribe to your email list because of the valuable content they are receiving.

Now that you have a healthy growing email list, how should you use it? Check back in for Part 2: How to turn your email subscribers into loyal online supporters. And as always, feel free to contact us at if you have any questions or comment below.


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