Was your inbox flooded with emails this Giving Tuesday? Mine too.
Do you remember the ones that stood out? The ones that intrigued you enough to click on them?
If your emails didn’t get opened there’s one thing to blame: your subject line. A bad subject line will tank your fundraising appeal. Even the greatest appeal can’t overcome a bad subject line.
I’m here to help you write click-worthy subject lines just in time for year-end giving, your next campaign, or even next year’s Giving Tuesday.
I have healthy obsession with email subject lines so Giving Tuesday is kind of like my Christmas morning or Super Bowl.
I received 79 Giving Tuesday emails, but that wasn’t enough to craft you a “best of” mix tape of winning subject lines. So, I recruited my fundraising friends, like Julie Cooper, Rachel Clemens, John Lepp, Julia Campbell, Alice Ferris, Jim Anderson, Tom Ahern, and Julie Edwards to send me theirs too. In the end I reviewed 200 Giving Tuesday emails.
Winning Giving Tuesday email subject lines and why we love them
Alice, help get 4 more kids to camp! ⛺
Love this email the fabulous Alice Ferris got from Ten Oaks Project. Personalization in the subject line will boost your open rate and tangible offers like ‘get 4 more kids to camp!’ always works best.
s t r e t c h goal for koalas! 🐨🐨
This gem was shared with me by my fundraising bestie copywriting dynamo Julie Cooper. We love the way the goal is attached to the koalas, not the org’s name, and the brilliance of writing s t r e t c h like that. Plus emojis! Emoji’s help you stand out in a busy and boring inbox.
Bees are dying and time is running out to save them
Love this very direct and urgent subject line from Friends of the Earth shared with me by Julie Cooper.
Giving Tuesday is Here and Queer!
My friend Jim Anderson sent me this subject line gem from This Way Out LGBTQ which made us both want to cheer!
You inspire me, Rachel
The ACLU sent me this email the morning after Giving Tuesday to say they know a lot causes are vying for my attention and that it’s not too late to help them meet their match. Flattery and personalization go a long way to boosting open rates!
Can we count on your compassion?
Simple and direct, this subject line could tug the heartstrings of readers who see themselves as compassionate. Special thanks to my friend and digital strategist Julia Campbell for sharing this example from Rosie’s Place.
We are $690 away from crossing the finish line
Donors love being part of that last push that takes you across the finish line and that’s just what happened for my friends at Love Not Lost, who had a $30,000 goal and sent this update email out Wednesday morning which helped them exceed their goal, raising $31,150!
Don’t miss your chance to do twice the good
Simple, but it reinforces there’s a match and it’s about to expire.
We’d love to see your name on this list 💚
Uses ‘you’ and piques my curiosity on what this list is.
$1,960 needed from donors in Illinois
Orbis did a great job personalizing the home state of their recipient, Julie Cooper, in this email.
Rachel’s gift matched 2x
Personalization will get your emails opened! Pro-tip: substitute “your” instead of “friend” if you don’t have a first name.
These are the birds seeking your support for Giving Tuesday
Being on lockdown turned me into a bird lover so I’d open this email sent to my friend John Lepp by Birds Canada. How can you use it? Substitute your beneficiary’s name for ‘birds.’
Will you help us build a counseling center for Jessica?
Another gem sent to me by John Lepp that is direct and to the point.
Give the Gift of Equal Justice
I love this subject line from Legal Aid Nebraska telling me what my gift will do and in only six words! Even better? It was written by one of my members in the League of Extraordinary Fundraisers.
It’s Giving Tuesday! Give the gift of music today to help us end on a high note
Corny, but I’ll take it. Drop the “It’s Giving Tuesday!” because every email says that.
If you were waiting for the most impactful moment to donate, this is it
I received this email from Save the Children complete with a countdown inside to hit their match and a very compelling image of a child in need looking directly at the camera. Bravo!
Samira is exhausted. You can help us give her the relief she deserves.
Short, compelling storytelling that tells the donor how they can help from the ARC Massachusetts.
People who are unhoused do have jobs
‘Unhoused’ is a complex, uncommon word but piquing curiosity is a winning subject line strategy. Their second subject line: “What is doubled-up homelessness?”
Hurry! Last chance to give water to 105 families this holiday, Julia!
My friend Julia Campbell got this simple, tangible and personalized email. Another gem she got? “This community is getting sick without running water.” A short, compelling storyline.
You’ve got that Giving Tuesday Glow! 😎
My friends at Magic Wheelchair build epic costumes for kids in wheelchairs and they know that flattery can get your email opened.
Today is the day! Badgers helping Badgers on Giving Tuesday
I didn’t go to the University of Wisconsin but if I had and I was a proud Badger I might open this. “Today is the day” makes this too long and every email is reminding your readers it’s Giving Tuesday. I’d edit it to “Badgers helping Badgers – you in, [firstname]?”
Don’t “brush” off Giving TOOTHday!
My friend Tom Ahern shared Healthcare for the Homeless in Baltimore who offer free dental care to the homeless, and the brainchild of their senior exec/fundraiser Keiren Havens. In a stroke of genius, Keiren renamed “Giving Tuesday” to “Giving TOOTHday.” The tooth is Keiren’s brilliance makes their campaign stand out from the crowd.
You lit up the world on GivingTuesday
This was a wrap up email arriving on Wednesday from the Giving Tuesday team sharing highlights of the day and thanking you “for lighting the world on GivingTuesday and every day.” Classy! You are smart to send your readers an email thanking them for the gift of letting you in their inbox and sharing your results. Many may be curious how you did.
Subject lines that won’t get opened
Please be more creative than the below examples. My comments are in parenthesis and italics.
- Giving Tuesday (yes this was an actual subject line!)
- Doing great so far! (then why would I open the email?)
- Esther’s story (why should I care enough to open this? Where is the teaser?)
- We need your help to reach our Giving Tuesday Goal! (Um, you and everyone else in my inbox)
- You made a powerful difference (then why are you asking me to give?)
- Help us fight food insecurity at JC this Giving Tuesday (Don’t use acronyms or insider jargon)
3 Key Takeaways, Tips & Tools to make it easier
- If you want to stand out in a busy email inbox don’t mention Giving Tuesday in the subject line. Of the 79 emails I got, 50 used Giving Tuesday in the subject line. You’ll stand out without it.
- Pro-tip: Save this blog post and use these best-of subject lines for your next campaign. Better yet? Create a “Subject lines” google doc with them and add in your highest performing subject lines (psst, I do this too and I have 384 subject lines in mine). You’ll save yourself time and have a full tank of inspiration at the ready!
- Test your email subject lines using a free tool like Send Check It (add that link to your bookmarks tool bar). They’ll rate your email based on grade level, scannability, length, spammy words, and more.
Of all the emails you sent for your Giving Tuesday appeal, we’d love to know what subject line earned you your best open rate and what that rate was. Drop it in the comments below!
Want more help from me with your fundraising, subject lines, emails and appeals? Check out my monthly membership, The League of Extraordinary Fundraisers.