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Anatomy of a Clickable Fundraising Email

Email marketing is big business. Every day, corporations bomb our inboxes with pitches, promotions, and ads. It's no wonder they're so keen on this form of marketing; studies show that email marketing is one of the most effective ways to reach customers (for us, donors).

In a recent YouTube video we did with Wendy Bonham-Carter of Do-Nation World, I was surprised by some stats she shared. She reported that 42% of donors prefer to hear from a nonprofit via email, and 21% say they donated because of an email that inspired them.

While corporations have the resources to hire professional email marketers, nonprofits often lack the same level of funding for professional fundraising emails. As a result, many nonprofits rely on volunteers or staff members to handle their email marketing.

Imagine the possibilities if nonprofits could utilize email like the pros. So, in today's article, we will walk you through the anatomy of a clickable fundraising email that will help you stand out from the competition and increase donations!

Perfer to watch? Check out our video on Fundraising Emails:

Fundraising Email Anatomy

The Email From Name

The from name in an email is the sender’s name. Recent stats suggest that 43% of recipients click the spam button based on the from name or email address.


  • Use your charity name

  • If you use a personal name, use the full name

  • Use the title of a series or newsletter name


  • Use a person's name unless they're well-known

  • Use "do not reply"

The Email From Address

The from address is the email address used by the sender to send the email.


  • Make sure it matches your from name


  • Use a no-reply address

  • Use an email service provider like Gmail


The Fundraising Email Subject Line

Subject lines are undoubtedly the most critical component of your emails. Statistics show that 35% of email recipients open emails based on the subject line.


  • Keep it short

  • Add value like what’s in it for the reader

  • Ask a question, call to action, teaser or deadline


  • Use spammy words like ‘act now’ or ‘don’t miss out’

  • Be boring and not grab attention

The Email Pre-header

The pre-header is the text that follows the email subject, sometimes shaded grey, and previews the content of your email.


  • Differentiate it from your subject line

  • Summarize the email content

  • Incorporate a CTA, tease with an incentive, build curiosity


  • Use more than 100 characters

  • Use jargon or get overly complicated

The Email Header

The header always precedes the email body, which is the first thing recipients will see, so you need to make a good impression. Eye-catching email headers set the tone for your email.


  • Differentiate your header and footer

  • Include your logo and company name

  • Keep it consistent with your brand


  • Keep changing it with every edition

  • Make it too big

  • Overdo the navigation

The Navigation Bar

Not every email needs a navigation bar, but they are becoming increasingly common. Email navigation bars are similar to the navigation bars you find on websites. They aim to guide the reader to a story or website that may interest them.


  • Keep it simple

  • Make sure it is mobile friendly


  • Forget to test the links

The Fundraising Email Body

The email body is entirely the central part of your email message. It can contain text, images, and other attachments.


  • Have a clear goal for what you want to communicate

  • Write in the second person

  • Use actionable language

  • Be personal and conversational


  • Use jargon or industry buzzwords

  • Use more words than you need

  • Forget about the skimmers, so use bullet points and bolded text

The Images, Videos and Attachments

According to HubSpot, adding video to emails increases click-through rates by an average of 300%.


  • Use Alt text

  • Ensure that images and video cover photos look good without being too large

  • Support videos and images with text

  • Link videos rather than imbed (many email providers don't support embedded video, so we recommend creating a thumbnail that links to an external URL of your video.)

  • When possible, use images of real people


  • Use large images that are slow to load

  • Do not use a background image when you are designing an email

  • Go off-brand

The Fundraising Call-to-action (CTA)

A good fundraising email should have two things: a great story and a great call to action. Recipients may be interested in the cause, but without a specific request for assistance, they are unlikely to take any action. A CTA can also ask readers to visit your website for more information, register for events, download your materials, watch videos, follow social media, etc.


  • Use contrasting colours for the CTA button

  • Use approachable action verbs like care, try, find

  • Create urgency

  • Use action cues like arrows


  • Put it somewhere that it doesn’t stand out

  • Make it too small

The Email Footer

The email footer is the bottom part of an email. It usually contains the company's mailing address, email contact address, site link, phone number, and unsubscribe link.


  • Add social media buttons and a website link

  • Add a view in the browser link Don’t:

  • Not add an opt-out

  • Forget to add a safelist request and ask readers to add you to their address book to stay out of spam folders

A quick bonus, the best times to send fundraising emails, according to OptinMonster are Tuesdays and Thursdays at 8:00 AM or 1:00 PM. At the same time, the worst is Friday to Sunday.

As always, if you need help putting this into practice or want someone to take care of all the nitty gritty details for you, give us a call. We'd be more than happy to assist!


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