8 email campaign tips for nonprofit fundraising events

Designing an effective email campaign for your nonprofit’s fundraising events doesn’t have to be daunting. Knowing a few of the components and understanding the strategies behind what constitutes a compelling email can help guide you to success through more ticket sales, higher demand for auction items and more overall excitement for your event.

All of these design tips and more are demonstrated in this video tutorial, where we walk you through the creation of a promotional email campaign using Constant Contact. If you have any feedback, we would love to hear it! What are your biggest challenges when creating email campaigns for an event? Are there things you wish you could do better? Please leave a comment below and let us know!

Following are the 8 design tips for creating an effective email campaign for your nonprofit event:

1. Demand attention

Remember that every word and component you use should be engaging and demand attention. The average email user gets 416 promotional emails per month, and that doesn’t include personal or work emails. Your email has to capture a subscriber’s attention to make the cut and get opened.

2. Be relatable

Be professional but maintain a conversational tone. You are writing to humans, not computers. Address the person at the beginning of the email and use “Dear FIRST NAME.” Sometimes it can be effective to use the recipients first name in the subject line to really get their attention. Many email editors give you a space to enter ‘Preview Text‘ which are the words that shows up in their email inbox (before they’ve opened their email) and right after the subject line. Use this area to personalize the message with their name or include something exciting that will make them want to open the email.


In the email’s FROM section, use your name and personal email address rather than a generic one like “info@nonprofit” or “noreply@…”. People are less likely to open an email that comes from a generic email address. Plus, you want recipients to be able to simply hit “Reply” to your email campaign and know they are going to reach someone who can answer their question. If you are sending your email campaign to thousands of people, this may mean you have to deal with a few hundred auto reply messages in your inbox, but that is totally worth it to make your email more relatable and accessible for the end user.

Nonprofit Hope Gala Newsletter

Click Here to enlarge this example of an effective email campaign.

3. Create a clear CTA

Your Call To Action (CTA) is the whole point of sending the email in the first place. Want people to buy ticket to your event? Make sure there is a large and obvious button for them to click on so they can purchase tickets! Each email should focus on one specific CTA. Otherwise readers may be confused about what you want them to do and are more likely to close your message without doing anything. Turn the CTA into a closing message that compels the reader to click and complete the designated action.

Specific CTAs can include:

  • Buy Tickets!
  • View Auction Items
  • Buy Sponsorships
  • Learn more about our Mission
  • Share on social media
  • Donate!

4. Use both text and images

A combination of text and images is important to create a compelling nonprofit email. Never make your email just one static image in an editing program. Many email programs will initially block images, which means the reader sees nothing and your email will immediately go in the trash.

5. Develop concise copy

Whether your readers are checking email at a computer or on a mobile device, research shows they want to scan. You have just seconds to capture their attention, so create concise, compelling copy. Use bullets for easy reading and avoid big blocks of text.

6. Include impactful pictures

A picture is worth a thousand words. When paired with compelling copy, an image adds sincerity and emotion to your message. Start with one to three very impactful pictures; don’t overdo it or they’ll lose their effectiveness. Link the pictures to a photo gallery for readers who want to see more. Don’t forget to add a donate button on the top!

7. Have something to promote

The Power of Storytelling During Fundraising Events

Read: The Power of Storytelling During Fundraising Events Storytelling can be a powerful fundraising strategy for Nonprofits. Learn how to share stories that make an impact and encourage donors to support your cause. Read More →

Every email should have a purpose. Because you are marketing for a nonprofit event, make sure you use the platform to promote something of significance. For example, strategically release information about big-ticket items that will be up for bid at the event. Focus on advertising the best items such as vacations and experiential travel. A smart strategy: Reveal one item at a time to build excitement and leave you more reasons to continue sending emails your subscribers.

8. Be a storyteller

Readers who are emotionally touched by an email are more likely to take your designated Call To Action. Whether you’re seeking to reduce childhood hunger or save the rain forests, use a story from your mission to tug at the heart strings. Enhance the emotional appeal with relevant statistics to fully support your message. Bring the story full circle by linking to additional videos or photo albums so readers can learn more.

Get the most out of your email campaigns! Click here to download the free eBook, “Beginner’s Guide to Email Event Promotion,” with bonus content calendar to help plan and organize efforts.