How to design compelling emails

Fundraising emails are a fine art. You need to account for donor preferences, ensure messages can be read from a mobile device, tell a great story and include a strong call to action. Plus, the increasingly mobile nature of email means you have to accomplish all of this in a short time. Many people scan through their inboxes while on the go. They are more likely to delete a message that doesn't render on a mobile device than they are to return to it later. A well-designed email needs to weave these different elements together to form a cohesive fundraising campaign. This is crucial for organizations that accept donations online

Design is sometimes overlooked in nonprofit emails in favor of telling a story or displaying impact. However, all components need to work together to create a great experience for donors, according to Nonprofit Technology Network. The story is a critical way to influence potential donors. Email design should be used to reinforce the details of the content. For example, even though infographics are primarily a visual form of content, their design is intended to support the statistics included in the image. 

While a compelling story can be missed if an email is poorly designed, the best layout can't save a message with no story, the article pointed out. Providing a visually appealing experience for contributors will only be effective if you also give them a strong reason to get involved in your cause. 

Carefully consider email graphics
Many nonprofits believe a great email always includes images. While visuals can enhance a reader's experience, one of the key mistakes organizations make in their email campaigns is assuming all email clients can process and display the images, Nonprofit Hub stated. Some email programs have a default option that doesn't load images, especially in mobile inboxes. Graphics require larger file sizes, which can slow down the loading speed of a message and subsequently, an entire inbox. Although email clients will prevent text-heavy messages from landing in the inbox, they are just as likely to send emails that only contain images to the spam folder. It's important to keep emails brief. If you use images, include ALT tags so recipients can still get a sense of what the story is about. 

This isn't to say you should ignore visual imagery all together. It's important to make sure recipients can understand your message, whether they see the graphics or not. More people are reading emails from mobile devices, so it's crucial to design messages with this in mind. Creating a sense of intrigue with your subject line and including the most important information in text form near the top of the message are effective ways to make sure donors interact with your content. 

Email marketing is a great tool for fundraisers, but your organization needs to create a link between form and function. 

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