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7 tips to improve your email appeals

Updated July 27, 2021 by Virginia Davidson

Tips for fundraising emails


Email appeals are an important component of year-end fundraising. With all the clutter in our inboxes, it’s important to craft email appeals that get opened and make it easy for the recipient to donate.

Here are 7 quick tips for improving your email appeals:

Keep the content concise and use small paragraphs.

The content of your email should be considerably shorter than the length of a direct mail appeal letter, and make sure you place the first ask near the top. You don’t want readers to have to scroll in order to get to the point. Resist the temptation to just copy and paste your appeal letter into an email!

Keep the subject line short and sweet.

Your subject line should be fewer than 50 characters. Kerri Karvetski recommends that you get into the habit of brainstorming at least 5 subjects for each email appeal. Some will be garbage, and that’s okay! A mini-brainstorming session will get the ideas flowing and you may well wind up with a winner—or at least have ideas to tweak. You can use a free tool like Coschedule’s Headline Analyzer to help you craft effective subject lines.

List your organization as the sender.

Unless your executive director is well known in the community or you’re sending the email on behalf of a celebrity supporter, consider setting the name of your organization as the sender. It provides context for the subject line of the email, which is helpful as recipients are viewing their inboxes.

Use a one-column template.

Multiple-column templates can seem like a nice choice, especially for e-newsletters, but they’re tricky and uncomfortable for people to read on mobile devices without a lot of scrolling and enlarging of the text. If you’re using an email marketing service like MailChimp or Constant Contact to create your email, be sure to select a one-column template as these are the easiest to read.

Include multiple opportunities to donate.

Sprinkle your donate button throughout the email to make it convenient for readers to take action by making a donation.

Link to a simple, quick donation form.

Your donate button should link to an online donation form that your donors can fill out quickly. It’s tempting to ask donors a lot of questions, but stick to the basics when they’re making a gift. You can always follow up with them later to ask those nice-to-know questions such as “How did you hear about us?” If you don’t already have a tool to collect donations online, consider a solution like LGL Forms.

Offer offline contact information.

Your donation form should also include mailing instructions for donors who are inspired to give but prefer to donate offline.

Closing thoughts

Before you click Send on any email appeal you are planning, run through these 7 tips to confirm that it is set up for success.

Important note on sending bulk emails to your donors

When sending email appeals, it’s important that you comply with the CAN-SPAM act. Email appeals are subject to the regulations of the CAN-SPAM act. This means that your email appeal must include an unsubscribe option for the recipients. Services such as MailChimp and Constant Contact have unsubscribe options built in.  Little Green Light also offers the ability to send bulk emails that can be configured to comply with the CAN-SPAM act.

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