E-mail is still the No. 1 way to connect with your supporters.
One-third to one-half of all email addresses go bad over the course of a year. With all the new ways people receive email now, that number may go even higher. People change their email addresses more frequently than they move. You need to review the emails in your database once a year – but how?
You need to verify email addresses at a time when it feels natural. When you’re buying a raffle ticket, giving your email seems “normal”; how else will they contact you if you win? (The incentive works in your favor.) When you’re signing a petition, you may be more skeptical about providing your email. On a donation envelope, along with name, address, and phone, a request for an email address seems natural.
Set a time of year to update the email addresses in your database. Maybe over the summer so that your November appeal gets the most hits. Or when you have a volunteer or intern to help.
Combine it with some other process already in place. Makes sense to link it with some effort that typically gets a good response. For example, when donors send emails to you (committee members, for example), someone could check the email address against your list.
Any time a form comes in to your office, have a system to check the email listed against the email on file.
Find a way to catch up with those you expect to hear from, but don’t. (They may have moved, they may have changed their email address, or they may be ignoring you by intention—wouldn’t you want to know which?)
Obviously you probably can’t make a personal call everyone on your list for this purpose. But if you make an effort to verify as many emails as is feasible, more of your constituents will have a chance of receiving your message.