What Makes a Non-Profit Email Amazing?

April 24, 2018

If you’re like many Canadian non-profits, email probably makes up a large chunk of your communications with donors and supporters. From sharing exciting updates to telling moving beneficiary stories, and of course asking for donations, email is a great vehicle for communicating with supporters.

Mobile Responsiveness

It’s nearly impossible to exist in the digital sphere without accounting for mobile responsiveness, but this is particularly true for email.

55% of email opens take place on a mobile device, according to this article, which cites a year long study done in 2016 – 2017. This is an increase of 29% over a similar study done in 2012.

This makes sense when you consider what time of day people are most likely to be opening their personal emails – during their morning commute (hopefully not while driving!), then later in the day around lunch and in the evenings. During these times people are less likely to be sitting at a computer, but they do have their phones in hand!

Grab Attention

Subject lines

Keep it short and sweet

A subject line of seven words or about 41 characters is the sweet spot! Having a short subject line that gets the point across will grab a reader’s attention and won’t get cut off on mobile devices.

Use action words

Use of verbs in subject lines make them more likely to be opened. Saying “Join us at our gala” will resonate with users more than “Invitation to our gala”.

Personalize it

Use merge tags to personalize your subject line with a recipient’s name or location.


Have you ever received an email and seen this next to the subject line?

“Unable to see this message? Click here to view this email in browser.”

Get more out of your pre-header by relating to your content! Elaborate on the subject line without repeating it and provide an incentive to open the email. Read more about pre-headers here.

Effective Layout

The layout of your content is just as important as your content itself. Follow these tips for amazing emails that are easy on your supporters’ eyes.

Put the first things first!

Bullet points

Use smart design

Draw people in to the key message of your email with an inverted pyramid design. Or guide them down the page with a zig zag design.

Using an F shape will also increase email readability placing important information where the reader is likely to be skimming over.

Read about email design and other email tips here.

Take Your Email to The Next Level

Learn more about what your non-profit can do for your email, and more importantly what your email can do for you. Contact us to discuss strategy and creative options tailored for your organization.

About the Author

Cassandra is a graduate of the Humber Fundraising Management Post-Graduate program. She has several years of experience working with non-profit organizations both in staff and volunteer roles. Before joining hjc, Cassandra worked at the University of Toronto in Central Advancement supporting annual giving at more than twenty different faculties and divisions within the University.

With nearly ten years of customer service experience, Cassandra believes in approaching client services with a positive attitude and an open mind.