Marketing & communications, Writing

The five secrets of writing great charity emails

When was the last time you emailed your supporters asking them to do something for your cause? Was it a generic ‘Join our running team on yet another 10k race’ ask, the link hidden deep within an email newsletter with 10-15 other generic stories?

If so, here are five secrets of writing great charity emails that your supporters will want to act on.

Ditch the newsletter

One time, I offered some big, delicious doughnuts to co-workers around the office. Very few takers. Then I offered them some of those lovely bite-size chocolate clusters. The plate was quickly emptied.

People love bite-size! So what? Well, most charities send out bulky, multi-column newsletters. They’re made to look like newspapers for some reason.

So split the 10 stories you put in your last newsletter into five (or even 10) separate emails. Send your supporters the equivalent of those bite sized chocolate chunks.

Short is sweet

As discussed, emails aren’t newspapers – most people are reading them on their smartphones, where their attention spans are short and their screens are small.
The quicker your email gets to the point, the more likely your supporter is to read it. And if they don’t read it, didn’t you just waste your time writing it?

Work big time on the subject line

People decide whether to open to your email using three pieces of information – who it’s from, the subject line and the first few words which are usually previewed on mobile (called the snippet).

Give your email the best chance of survival by writing 10 different versions of the subject line, and choose the best one. Make it descriptive, and experiment with characters like hashtag symbols, numbers and even emoji to stand out in crowded inboxes.

Say my name

Apparently there is no sweeter sound in the English language than our own name.
Most email platforms allow you to personalise your emails, automatically mentioning the recipient’s name and other details like their local neighbourhood. Do this. Make it personal and relevant, and you’ll get clicks to your content

Who’s on your list?

Don’t just send the same email to everyone on your list.  Segment your list into types of supporter, sign up source or whatever is relevant to you.

Send them tailored content depending on the type of segment you set up. And after a while, reactivate the ones who haven’t been responding to see if you can get them back on board. Your email subscribers will thank you!

If you think email might just be the best way to invigorate your supporters, head to to find out more about how we can help.