Essential elements all nonprofit fundraising emails include

There are quite a few things that you can do to make your fundraising email campaigns convert better. After all, if your emails aren’t raising funds nor awareness for your cause then there are surely some things that you can do to improve on that.

Today we’re going to look at some of the essential elements that all nonprofit fundraising emails should include to ensure that you get the most bang for your buck when sending them out. Without further adieu, let’s get right into it.

Use a real reply email

You’ll find that some nonprofits use a do not reply email when sending out fundraising newsletters. That being said, it’s neither effective nor intuitive. After all, if you’re sending out emails then you’re likely doing so with the intent of engaging with your donors and raising more funds for your cause. How are they supposed to engage back if you’re literally telling them that they shouldn’t respond to the email?

If you want to get more responses and donations through your fundraising emails then use a valid reply email so that they can respond to the message. If you’re a smaller organization then using the founder’s email is the best way to go about it. That being said, if there’s a marketing or donor-relations department in your nonprofit then using an email address that redirects to them would be wise. The key thing isn’t which email you use so long as it’s not a do not reply one to ensure that your donors are able to contact the nonprofit without any hassle.


Timing is everything, and this rule holds true even in fundraising emails.

If you want to get better results out of your fundraising emails then you should be sending them at the right time. You might be wondering how you’re supposed to figure out what the ideal time is. This usually comes down to trial and error.

best time to send email marketing for nonprofits chart
Benchmarks on the best time to send email marketing for nonprofits from GetResponse.

Simply send emails at different times of the day and split test to find out which time is ideal. If you see that more of your emails are being opened when you send them in the afternoon then shifting to that schedule is advised. Fortunately, there are some tools that you can use to find out when your emails are being opened by the recipients. Using these can make it a whole lot easier to narrow down the ideal window for sending out fundraiser emails.

When’s the best time to send an email? GetResponse reports the highest click-to-open rates can be seen had at 10 am, 1 pm and 6 pm.

Subject line

The subject line of your email is everything. After all, it doesn’t matter if the contents of your email are the formula for the cure to cancer. If the subject line is boring then you still won’t get any responses since the recipients simply won’t read it in the first place.

There are countless books on the subject of writing compelling subject lines, but you don’t have to read them all to familiarize yourself with some of the basic good practices. The most important thing is that you avoid vagueness. An email with the subject line “fundraiser” won’t get many clicks since it doesn’t tell the recipient anything else about what it contains. Some paranoid people might even think that it’s a scam email.

Instead, you should include crucial information like the name of the campaign and which nonprofit it’s coming from. There’s no one-size-fits-all subject line that will work for all nonprofits so you’ll have to experiment a bit. Furthermore, the needs will also change depending on who you’re emailing. If most of your donors are in a specific demographic — i.e. millennials or retired citizens — then you should factor this in when crafting your subject line.

As part of your email marketing strategy, you could also consider A/B Testing different subject lines across your email subscriber base to see which word choices convert into higher donations. Some email service providers have this toolset built-in by default, such as Mailchimp, Sendgrid and Mailjet.

Preview text

As you might have already noticed, most inboxes show you a preview of the start of each incoming email. This is your one chance to get your foot in the door with your donors. The preview text – part of the preheader on your email – should contain all the key info to ensure that your recipient clicks on the email and reads the rest of it. First of all, you should open with the recipient’s name whenever possible so that they know it’s for them specifically and not spam mail.

Preview text on the Sendgrid platform
Preview text on the Sendgrid platform.

Secondly, you should include other key information like the name of the campaign and the nonprofit that’s running it. If they’re a long-time supporter then opening with something like “Hey John! Because you’ve supported Pals of Dolphins for so long…” in the preview text. Acknowledging their existing support towards the cause while also mentioning their name is the best way to ensure that the preview text compels them to read the rest of the email.


Donors are just like any other humans — in the sense that they’re perpetually short on time and don’t have hours to spare on incoming emails. If you want to get great results out of your fundraising emails then you should ensure that they’re all as concise as possible. Don’t get us wrong though, you should include all the crucial information. That being said, avoid any filler text that might make the email longer without providing any value.

Furthermore, if you can’t get it as short as you want to then at least make use of formatting to highlight key information. The most important elements of the email should also come first as the inverted pyramid of journalism describes.

That way, even if they don’t read the entire email, they’ll already get the gist of it after looking at the opening paragraph. There’s no guarantee that they’ll read your email all the way through, so be sure to mention as much of the key info as possible at the start.


If you want your fundraising emails to get more money for your cause then you should pay close attention to the tips that we’ve provided above. It might take some time along with trial and error, but after you get the hang of it you’ll be surprised how effective your fundraising emails can be. Happy fundraising!