How to get your holiday appeals opened | npENGAGE

How to get your holiday appeals opened

By on Nov 4, 2011


You may have been planning your end of year appeal messages for the past couple of months, or are getting started on this now.  You probably already have or will put a lot of thought into the content and overall tone of your messages, and perhaps are working across departments on integrating your message into other media channels.  All of that work is an important part of planning and developing your end of year campaign.

But, ask yourself this? What is going to make a possible donor open this message?  How can I stand out? Have I thought about my subject line yet?

Let’s face it, your constituents are very likely going to be receiving end of year appeals from organizations other than your own.  Maybe some they are those less involved with, and others they are more involved with.  Amongst all of the clutter we know to be in our inboxes it is important to think about how to stand out in the crowd.  Your heart-warming story that you have spent hours developing and integrating with other messaging will only get read if your e-appeal is opened.

That being said, if you have already written your subject lines, I’d like to urge you to test them against these tips.  If you haven’t written them yet, then it’s time to get started. When writing your subject lines, keep these four things in mind:

  1. Be clear about the substance of your message.  Does your subject line accurately portray the content of your email? It is important that you keep the trust between you and your constituents, so do not be misleading.
  2. Keep it short. Keep it simple.  There are a lot of very long, drawn out subject lines toppling over each other in our inboxes.  They end up looking a little jumbled together, don’t they?  Break it up with a short and compelling subject line.  Among all of the long subject lines, a short one will make your message stand out.  It will also be read easier on mobile devices.
  3. Consider who you are sending “from”.  Think about this as your return address if you were to send something in the mail to a friend.  Who is it from?  When I’m a possible donor and I see “from” x, will I know who that is? For this, be consistent with the messages that you have already been regularly sending to your constituents.  End of year is not the time to change it up and try something new.
  4. If it sounds like it could be spam, it could be spam.  Avoid words that you commonly see in spam emails.  Check out this article that lists most commonly used spam words.  Be sure to avoid things like punctuation marks, as those can often set off spam filters.  I know the holiday season is exciting, but refrain from using exclamation points.

If you have the opportunity to run a test of subject lines with a small group of constituents, that is fantastic.  If your email marketing tools allow for split testing, then select a small audience, split it in half and test two subject lines with this group.  You can see what performs better with your constituency and then send your message(s) out to the rest of your audience with the tried and true subject line.  If you’d like to download a full article on this topic, click here.

Have fun with it and post any follow up comments or brainstorming ideas here!


From time to time, a guest blogger will appear on npENGAGE. Guest bloggers are industry experts contributing useful, relevant content to the conversation on npENGAGE. If you are interested in being a guest blogger, contact the editor.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *