Marketing & Promos
February 16, 2022

6 Tips to Craft Interesting Subject Lines for Nonprofit Fundraising Campaigns

Writing great emails is important. But how can they make a difference if no one is reading them?  Around 35 percent of people decide whether an email is worth their time based solely on the subject line. This section of your email communication deserves the same amount of attention and creative effort that you put into writing a stellar email, if not more. 

The few words that form your subject line need to accomplish a long list of goals such as intriguing your target audience, inspiring them, encouraging action, creating urgency, and more. If you want your nonprofit or charity to drive donations and maximize the results of its email campaigns, then keep on reading.

Importance of email marketing for fundraisers

Email marketing is a great tool, and not just for businesses. For charities and nonprofits, email marketing provides a great way to connect with their benefactors, grow their donor base, and build relationships, while staying on top of their workload. Here’s why email marketing has always been and continues to be such a great tool for charities and nonprofits to raise funds: 

  • It’s cost-effective: Email marketing is known for bringing results with a high return on investment (ROI). For every 1,000 emails sent, nonprofits and charities raise an average of $78. 
  • It’s efficient: Email marketing offers the next best alternative to a one-on-one conversation with a supporter. It becomes nearly impossible to depend on face-to-face meetings or even phone calls as a nonprofit or charity with a growing donor base. 
  • It provides valuable insights: Donor segmentation allows nonprofits and charities to send very relevant emails that match the persona of each donor, allowing emails to retain a personal touch. Email marketing also allows nonprofits to receive in-depth data on how people are responding to their campaigns and messages, helping them see which areas need improvement.
  • It’s engaging: Email marketing provides a great way to nurture your leads, keep everything fresh and engaging, and build relationships with your benefactors. A timely thank you for financial or volunteer support and sharing regular updates with those interested in your cause can go a long way. 

Related: 8 Email Marketing Tips for Nonprofits to Inspire Giving and Attract Donors

6 pro tips to craft catchy subject lines that catch eyeballs and tug at your supporters’ heartstrings

When your charity or nonprofit launches an email campaign with the intention of raising funds, all the various elements come together and play their role to maximize impact. Every element such as writing an impactful body copy, choosing captivating graphics, and more, requires attention to detail. But nothing is as important as getting the subject line right, because that is the section people see and decide if they should open the email or not.  

1. Personalize the subject line

Personalizing your email subject lines is more important than you think. This simple act of adding a personal touch can boost your open and click-through rate and help you develop a stronger bond with your audience. Research confirms that subject lines with the recipients’ first names have a much higher click-through rate than those that don't—and that’s because we are hard-wired to respond to our names. 

Also, consider adding the name of a specific person within your organization as the sender. This would make the email exchange feel like a conversation between two people. In fact, people are 35% more likely to open an email that they receive from a specific person. Here are some subject line examples that make full use of personalization:

Can you help, (insert recipient name)?

You can make a difference today (insert recipient name).

2. Use a number

Adding a number to the subject line can also increase your email’s open and click-through rates. Numbers make the purpose of your email clear, and add authority and credibility to your message. Moreover, it is also a great way to showcase your expertise on a topic. YesWare’s study analyzed 115 million emails and confirmed that emails with a number in the subject line see higher open and reply rates. The following subject lines use numbers to entice their readers: 

Only 75 more donors needed for the ‘end-hunger’ campaign 

Top 10 tips to make your dollar stretch further

3. Offer an incentive

If your nonprofit is offering incentives to donors to encourage them to participate, volunteer, or support your efforts, your email subject line is the best place to show it. These exclusive perks could include invitation to special events, free vouchers, or recognition for your ardent supporters at a major charitable event. 

Another actionable incentive is to give your prospective supporter the feeling that by donating to your cause, they will become part of a special community of people that are making a significant impact and changing the world for the better. Here are some email subject lines that demonstrate this:

All donors are invited to our yearly Celebration Gala

Participate in our online raffle to save lives and win life-changing prizes

4. Keep it short

Like the body of the email, the subject lines should also be short, punchy, and to-the-point. Brevity becomes especially important for mobile readers. Smaller screens can usually accommodate no more than five or six words. And considering that up to 77 percent of emails get opened on handheld devices, keeping subject lines (and the emails) creative, engaging, and short is more important than ever. Short and concise email subject lines can look like this:

We accomplished incredible things with your support

Last day to take action

Help change 20 lives this month

5. Emphasize urgency

Creating a sense of urgency with your email subject lines can also encourage people to take immediate action and not procrastinate. Urgency is one of the key elements of persuasive emails. People lead busy lives and its easy to put non-urgent items on hold for an indefinite period of time, despite wanting to or meaning to do something. The only way to break this cycle is to create a sense of urgency. Here are some email subject lines that showcase urgency: 

10 hours left to double your gift 

Last chance to make a lifelong impact

Let’s end 2022 on a positive note

6. Ask a question

Writing thought-provoking and relevant questions in your email’s subject line can intrigue the reader. The immediate result is that the recipient opens the email to find the answer. In other words, questions give readers something to think about and something to want answers to. When you add the right questions to the subject lines of your emails, you end up increasing your open rates. Here are some tips to keep in mind when drafting email subject lines that pose a question:

  • Keep questions open-ended
  • Make these questions relevant to the donor persona that you’re targeting

Here are some email subject lines that ask important questions:

How many children can you save today?

Can you help us reach our goal?

Are you ready to start again?

A subject line is the first thing a user looks at to decide whether an email is worth their time. These tips will help you write subject lines that are effective, impactful, intriguing, creative, and downright awesome. With some time and effort, you can improve your email open and click-through rates. 

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