Paypal vs Integrated Donation form

Holiday Email Subject Lines For Better Open Rates

There are many challenges associated with reaching key stakeholders, particularly during the holiday season. Competing distractions come in the form of holiday parties, year-end deadlines, last minute shopping, and that seemingly endless stack of holiday cards to sign. Many online marketers wonder if there’s even any point in sending out an email blast at all this time of year, because who’s listening anyway? Here’s a little secret – email marketing doesn’t have to be ineffective, at any time of year.

Catchy subject lines can draw people in and keep them clicking, even if they are about to scoot out the door to enjoy some egg nog. Here are four tips for holiday email subject lines for better open rates:

1. Make it emotional

We all love success stories, particularly during the holiday season, as we’re all poised to make ourselves better for a new year. Share the stories of your volunteers, members, and organization’s achievements in a year end email. Consider making the subject of the communication a VIP in your organization’s community who’s accomplished something spectacular. This is sure to get people clicking out of curiosity. If you’re getting close to making a fundraising or campaign target, highlight this in your subject line and blow those numbers out of the water! Invested members will click, and help, because it is that time of year and they care.

Some of our favourite emotion driven, heart tugging headings include:

  • Here’s to another great year together!
  • Field Report: All gifts matched, success stories & more!
  • Finishing Strong – What Can We Do Together?
  • Lots of Countdowns Today. This One Is About Changing Lives.
  • We need you

2. Punch things up with witty puns, funny one liners & rhymes

Catching someone’s eye and making them smile with a subject line is sure to pique their interest. By keeping email subject lines short, sweet, and entertaining, you’ll enjoy a better open rate because who doesn’t love a good joke? Not feeling that funny? Consider a rhyme instead! TOMS shoes are known for philanthropy and decided to play up their customer’s generosity with this simple subject, “Be the reason someone smiles this season”. Grab your audience’s attention with something unique that will really stand out.

Some of our favourite email subject lines that readers will open with a smile include:

  • Procrastinators Unite
  • Santa says we’ve been really, really good!
  • Are you sure you checked twice?
  • Last Chance to Notify the Elves

3. Offer Solutions to seasonal problems

Now is the time to remind members and volunteers about the perks of association: member discounts and donations as gifts for that person who has everything. Easy links to affiliate programs with member discounts for events, theatre tickets, etc. can get your email opened, as can causes that people care about, with the right subject line.

Some of our favourite email subject lines that help solve frantic holiday shoppers’ problems include:

  • YES! This solves your last-minute scramble
  • It’s a Last-Minute Gift that Makes a Difference
  • Don’t Worry: Last Minute Green Gifts Are Here!
  • ‘Tis Better to Give…
  • Last minute gifts are only a click away

4. Make your list and check it twice

This one’s not just for the holidays: but now is a great time to get started! Create an email folder to record the catchiest email subject lines you see all year long. This will get you thinking about what promotional email you’ve opened and why, as a part of your everyday routine. As you receive any email with intriguing subjects, simply file them away and then schedule a set time to review your competitive research on a fairly regular basis (think monthly or even quarterly).

These subject lines can act as inspiration for your communication planning, particularly when you’re stumped and looking to re-energize your messaging. Not every subject will work, but this will provide a new stream of inspiration. During this regular review think about what made you open the email, and try to position something similar that will work for your organization. Remember, like anything, communication planning takes research, practice, review, and organization.

Download Your Free Guide on Choosing CRM Software for Your Nonprofit!

  • Hidden
  • Hidden
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.


Sign up for our newsletter packed full of nonprofit help!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Scroll to Top

Wait, don't go away empty handed.

Join 50,000 other nonprofits in getting the BEST nonprofit tips, tools, and how-to guides delivered right to your inbox!

Subscribe to our newsletter: