Whose Life Depends on Your E-mail Subject Line?
Whose life (or quality of life) depends on the success of your organization's fundraising? Abused women? The mentally ill? Cats? Dogs? Mountain goats? A museum? A community? A river? A little boy fighting leukemia?
This video — "Police: Kidnapped MoveOn.org Staffer's 'Please Help' Emails Went Completely Ignored" — from the often painfully hilarious faux-news outlet The Onion is the very definition of one of my faviorite borrowed phrases — scathingly brilliant. You might find it a little over-the-top or even downright offensive — and not because it makes light of kidnapping, rape, torture and murder.
(OK, well maybe a little because of that.)
The part that's really hard to swallow is the part that, like all good satire, tugs at the truth. In this case, that would be the public's immunity to the appeal of nonprofit e-mails that show up in their inboxes every day.
There's no denying that a large part of the direct mail nonprofits send out each year ends up in the recycle bin. And while e-mail offered a brand-new and exciting channel a few years ago, fundraisng e-mail is already so ubiquitous that recipients are turning a blind eye to it. If you're lazy with your e-mail subject lines and campaign content, your e-mails are going to end up in the virtual recycle bin, as well.
I'm going to assume that the life of one of your staff members doesn't depend on recipients opening your e-mails, but given the importance of your mission and the work that you do, maybe you should write them like it does.