How to make your subject lines sing

Your best emails don’t accomplish a thing if they don’t have effective subject lines. That’s where you should spend a big chunk of your time.

Here are some things to focus on, from the Bloomerang blog, at 6 Considerations For Fundraising Appeal Email Subject Lines:


  1. The law (the CAN-SPAM act makes it clear you can’t use misleading or deceptive subject lines)
  2. Spam filter trigger words and characters (check with your service provider; there are different opinions on what activates spam filters to keep you messages out of inboxes)
  3. Clean data
  4. Words humans ignore (here are some words found in a recent study to decrease open rates: helping, fundraising, raffle, fundraiser, charity, and — worst by a lot — donate)
  5. Subject line length and format (study what’s working — you might be surprised)
  6. Expert advice only goes so far (pay attention to what really works for you)

My rule for subject-line writers: Always write at least 10, and narrow them down to the best ones.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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About the blogger

Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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