Email marketing is a time tested method for businesses to expand their customer bases and increase sales. But, can it be an equally effective fundraising tool for charities?

Marketing for a charity can be tricky. Charities rarely have the marketing budget of ‘for-profit’ business, and they also have the added challenge of not having a ‘tangible’ product to sell. Thankfully, email marketing is both affordable and engaging, making it ideal for charities. Here are some tips to help your charity make the most of email marketing:

Charity Subject Lines

The subject line is particularly important in charity emails. A good subject line will compel the reader to open the message, click through and, hopefully, donate. But, if no one is compelled to open the email, your charity won’t receive any donations. Most charities don’t have the money to waste on ineffective email marketing campaigns!

The subject line should concisely communicate what is in the body of the email. It should also say a little about the work your charity does. The reader can then decide if it’s something they’d like to support. Take a look at this example from animal charity Blue Cross:

In just a few words, this subject line tells the reader that they are an animal charity, and gives them an idea about story featured in the body of the email. It was also a good idea to show the reader that the story has a happy ending. This tells them that donations do actually make a difference to animals.

Donate Button

Email is a fast and convenient medium, and Internet and email users want things that will make life easier for them; they won’t want to spend time writing a cheque and posting it to a charity!

Include a prominent ‘donate’ button in the body of your email and, when a reader clicks-through, make it as simple as possible for them to donate money. There shouldn’t be any obstacles in their way. Offer them a variety of payment methods (credit card, debit card, PayPal etc.) and only ask them for the information that you absolutely need. You can even include radio buttons so the user can select a commonly donated amount (£5, £10 or £50), removing as much of the guess work out of the process as possible.

In the same email from Blue Cross, they have included a large donate button at the top of the email:

The position of the button makes it difficult for the reader to miss. Notice that they have also include links to other ways people can help the charity (‘Rehome’ and ‘Volunteer’). When putting together emails for your charity, it’s worth remembering that not everyone will be in a position where they are able to donate money to you, but they may want to help you out in different ways.


Choosing to donate to a charity can be a very personal and meaningful decision. Therefore, people are unlikely to respond to a generic email that just looks like every other message in their inbox. Just like in the Blue Cross example above, take the time to personalise the emails that you send. You can also do much more than just including their name at the top of the message. Use your emails to let the reader know what the charity is doing in their local area and to update them on stories they’ve taken a particular interest in. It’s worth bearing in mind, though, that personalised subject lines can be blocked by some ISPs’ spam filters, so keep the personalisation to the body of the email.

Putting together a charity email uses many of the same principles as ‘for-profit’ email marketing. Put your readers’ and subscribers’ needs first and significant results will come naturally.