Nonprofit Subject Lines Do’s and Don’ts

Organizing and managing your inbox may sometimes leave you feeling like you’re swimming upstream, frustrated and exhausted. According to The Radicati Group Email Statistics Report in 2015, the total number of emails sent (worldwide) per day was 205.6 Billion. That’s almost 30 emails sent to each person on the planet. Think about that. No sane person is going to open each one of those emails. Instead, they’re going to skim the subject lines to determine whether or not it’s worth their time to take a closer look. That’s what makes subject lines so important to the success of your email strategy.

Knowing what to do is almost as important as knowing what not to do. Here are the do’s and don’ts of writing a subject line for your nonprofit or fundraising organization.


  • DO test your subject line. Testing will give you an idea of what is and isn’t working. You don’t have to just test two. Test four or five different subject lines on a small portion of your send group, then send the winner to the rest a few hours later.
  • DO frame your subject line as a question. Using a question will give recipients a reason to open the email, since they will be intrigued by what the answer might be.
  • DO be brief. Your supporters are going to be skimming their inbox, a long subject line will just be skipped over.
  • DO get personal. Incorporate a person’s first name in the subject line. (Learn how: Klaviyo Personalization Doc)
  • DO make it clear whom the email is from. You don’t want your supporters asking themselves, “Who is this?” after seeing your email. This might confuse them and prevent them from opening.


  • DON’T write in all CAPITAL LETTERS. This will send your email to the promotions or spam folder. Write your subject line like you’re writing to a friend. You wouldn’t yell at a friend, would you?
  • DON’T use special characters (!$@&). This will also push your email into the spam folder.
  • DON’T use spam words. Spam words are trigger words that will land your email in your supporters spam folder. Common spam words include FREE, CLICK, OPEN, WINNER, ETC.
  • DON’T always ask for help. Asking for help every once in a while is ok, but asking too much will come off as desperate and annoying.
  • DON’T be too mysterious. This relates to making it clear who the email is from – confusing your supporter will not get them to open your email.

Your subject line is going to be the deciding factor on whether your supporter opens your email. It’s important that your message stands out in an inbox full of emails trying to accomplish the same thing: an open.  On top of that, you want to prevent your email from being placed in their spam folder, the folder where emails go to die. Get more Information About Klaviyo for Nonprofits:


4 Sending Habits That Will Boost Open Rates



Office Hours: Building high-value abandoned cart email flows



Bounce-Back Email Campaigns: Strategy and Timing


.yuzo_related_post img{width:260px !important; height:250px !important;}
.yuzo_related_post .relatedthumb{line-height:16px;background: !important;color:!important;}
.yuzo_related_post .relatedthumb:hover{background:#ffffff !important; -webkit-transition: background 0.2s linear; -moz-transition: background 0.2s linear; -o-transition: background 0.2s linear; transition: background 0.2s linear;;color:!important;}
.yuzo_related_post .relatedthumb a{color:#323b43!important;}
.yuzo_related_post .relatedthumb a:hover{ color:}!important;}
.yuzo_related_post .relatedthumb:hover a{ color:!important;}
.yuzo_related_post .yuzo_text {color:!important;}
.yuzo_related_post .relatedthumb:hover .yuzo_text {color:!important;}
.yuzo_related_post .relatedthumb{ margin: 0px 0px 0px 0px; padding: 5px 5px 5px 5px; }

jQuery(document).ready(function( $ ){
//jQuery(‘.yuzo_related_post’).equalizer({ overflow : ‘relatedthumb’ });
jQuery(‘.yuzo_related_post .yuzo_wraps’).equalizer({ columns : ‘> div’ });

Back to Blog Home
Get email marketing insights delivered straight to your inbox.