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Creating a Planned Gifts Email Marketing Message

Email marketing is an effective and cost-efficient way to communicate with prospective and current donors. Creating an effective email marketing message for planned gifts is a key place to get started. Here are some important elements to help improve your email communications.

Engaging Subject Lines

Email subject lines should be short and have a sense of urgency. The sender name and subject line are the first things your readers will see. Make sure that they describe your marketing message and reflects your organization as the sender. It is usually best to write the content of your email and then go back to write your subject line, allowing you to see the summation of your overall message and tie it to your call to action.

Here are some examples of engaging subject lines:

IRA Charitable Rollover:
• Your Savings, Your Legacy
• Ending the Year Well
• Looking for an Easy Way to Help

Charitable Gift Annuities:
• Support our Future and Receive Fixed Payments for Life
• In Giving you Receive
• Support a Loved One with Fixed Payments

• What Legacy Will You Leave?
• A Plan with Passion and Promise
• The Power of a Plan

Call to Action

A single call to action is important. Studies have shown that a single button or link increases click-through rates. The type of call to action you use should be specific to how you segmented your list and provide crucial next steps that are easy to follow.

Here are a few options to choose from:

• Estate planning guide download
• Charitable gift annuity proposal request
• IRA charitable rollover webpage with letter for custodian
• End of year giving brochure download
• Engaging donor stories
• Information on recent tax changes

Email Length

Your email length should be concise and to the point while effectively communicating your message. Remember to factor in your audience. Not all email markets are the same. You should test your lists to see what works best for your email demographic. It is important to keep track of any trends you notice and update your communications based on the data.


Using your own custom images is a powerful way to strengthen your email messaging. The images you use should resonate with your target audience. Remember to factor in age, family status and affiliation, including alumnus, patient or staff member. Be sure to use high quality images that coincide with your brand and mission.


When stewarding your donors, maintaining a consistent brand presence is important. Your branding should be cohesive across all marketing platforms including print, web, social media and email. Before sending any email marketing you should have team members review your work.

Here are some key items to consider when designing and writing your emails:

• Colors
• Logo
• Images
• Voice

Email Segmentation

Sending bulk emails that resonate with everyone can sometimes be tricky. To simplify writing your emails, think about your audience and segment them into different categories. Think about what matters to each group the most, then tailor your messaging toward their needs and goals.

Here are a few segmentation groups to consider for popular gift models:

• Bequests: ages 40 and older, loyal donors, board members, currently legacy society members
• IRA charitable rollover: ages 70 1/2 or older, especially past IRA donors
• Charitable gift annuities: mid-70s and older, current CGA donors
• Gifts of stock/appreciated assets: any current donors, regardless of age

There are many ways you can improve the effectiveness of your email messaging. I hope these tips will help you get started in the right direction. If you would like additional strategies on how to create effective email messaging or have other questions, please contact Crescendo at 800-858-9154.

Emily Anderson

By Emily Anderson
Integrated Marketing Coordinator, Crescendo Interactive, Inc.

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