Email Subject Line Inspiration for Charities

It's nice to share...
Tweet about this on Twitter
Share on LinkedIn
Share on Facebook

The subject line is arguably the most important part of your email campaign; it’s the first impression that you make and your best chance to stand out in a busy inbox filled with messages all demanding the recipient’s attention.

For inspiration, check out the subject lines below, which came from a brainstorming exercise at the Digital Charity Lab ‘Improving Your Charity’s Emails’ Workshop. Each group took a theme  that you can use when developing your subject lines – themes that are likely to provoke a response in the user.

(In the exercise we chose an appeal for Syria as the topic)

Time focused

Create a sense of urgency, so the subscriber feels they need to open the email right now, rather than filing it to read later.

  • You have 24 hrs left to save Maria
  • Syria: time is running out
  • Tomorrow will be too late to save Maria
  • Do you have 20 seconds to spare?


By asking a question, you can open a conversation. Phrase the question well and the subscriber will be compelled to click through to discover the answer.

  • What would YOU do with 1 million children?
  • Syria – how can you help?
  • What does Kobani look like today?
  • It seems kind of futile, doesn’t it?
  • How has your donation helped Ahmed?
  • What do you and Ahmed have in common?


Possibly the most powerful approach to take. Directly point out how the situation is relevant to the subscriber.

  • Find out how you can help 3 million children today
  • You saved a life last year – will you save a life today?
  • You can save a life today


Try something cryptic or compelling, that will stand out in the inbox and pique the user’s interest. Don’t overdo this one though!

  • Do you know what a barrel bomb does?
  • Where are the refugees going?
  • 1 million have left, 3 million are left behind
  • Which of these two would you choose <name>?

Big thanks to everyone who participated in our workshop and helped come up with these great ideas.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.