6 Ways to Improve Your Donor Emails

Email remains one of the most important channels of communication. It is cost-efficient for the organization and gets more engagement than other forms of communication, like social media or direct mail. How can your organization send donor emails that improve open and click rates?

#1: Say less

If you try to tell donors five things, they’ll remember zero things. Focus every email around one topic: pick one program, event, or need. Nonprofits feel an urge to provide more content than people will be interested to consume. But you can boost retention by reducing the number of topics in your email.

#2: Be specific

It’s one thing to talk about “how afterschool clubs change lives.” It’s another thing to talk about “how chess club helped Katie make better decisions.” The first approach is generic but the latter is specific. It talks about a specific person and a specific program. In your emails, be as specific as possible. Your organization isn’t generic, so talk about its work in concrete ways.

#3: Time it 

If your organization has donors who give monthly, time a monthly email to arrive the day after their gift is drafted from their bank account or charged to their credit card. That way, they will see the charge and then be reminded of the impact of their gift. 

#4: Ask questions

Nobody likes people who like to talk about themselves but never show interest in the other person. Unfortunately, that’s how organizations can often come across. Instead of talking, ask them a question: “We spend a lot of time talking about our story, but we want to learn more about yours. What nonprofit organizations have had the most positive impact on your life?” You’ll learn more about your donors and perhaps gather insights that can improve your own work.

#5: Improve the subject line

The subject line shouldn’t be “March Enews” or “Monthly E-Digest.” Instead, focus on an issue in the email: “How Your Gift Changed Katie’s Life.” The email subject line is the first thing donors will read, and it needs to convince them to keep reading.

#6: Personalize it

When your email arrives in the donor’s inbox, who is the sender? Most often, it is the organization’s name: “Denver After School Clubs.” Instead, add a personal name as the sender: “Cindy @ Denver After School Clubs.” People are more likely to read an email when it comes from an actual person. 

Your donors are busy. Don’t waste their time or space in their inbox. A few simple adjustments to your email strategy can make them excited to open and read. 

Book a spot for “Ask Andy Anything”

Got questions about how to improve your organization’s communications with donors? Our founder, Andy Jones, helps leading organizations develop and improve their donor communications and marketing. This is your chance for a 1:1 session to ask him anything about your organization’s communications and marketing. Click here to book a spot


P.O. Box 2541
Chattanooga, TN 37409

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