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email subject line

Do you sometimes feel like your emailed requests or questions swirl down the computer garbage disposal sink drain before anyone actually reads them?

Yes, it happens. I think busy senior managers are forced to choose an immediate crisis (think, Subject: One of your staff just over-reported her mileage reimbursement ) versus a well thought out and professional big picture question regarding the future of volunteering. Unfortunately, you’ve now just entered into the email game of “Let the Priorities Begin!”

So, let’s first look at the subject lines that get deleted faster than you can ask, “are the volunteers going to be recognized at the Gala this year?”

  1. Subject:  I have this new, awesome volunteer that I think could help you. (so this should be the one everyone can’t wait to open but sadly we live in a paradox. This email doesn’t always get deleted but can sit on the “to do” list until eternity. Why?) (Actual recipient’s response before deletion: “Because new volunteers are MORE work for me, not less.”)
  2. Subject:  A volunteer has a suggestion. (Ok, guaranteed this one gets deleted.) (Actual response before deletion: “Hmm, so a once-a-week person is going to tell us how to run our organization?”)
  3. Subject:  A volunteer needs supplies to start a new project. (Actual response before deletion: “Hahahahahahahaaaa, you think we have a budget for anything but salaries and maybe fancy napkins for our Gala?”)
  4. Subject:  I have a proposal for your consideration. (Actual response before deletion: “Seriously, honey, we have projects we saw at the last national conference and now must see implemented, so you just have to wait your turn.”)
  5. Subject: I have a challenging situation. (Actual response before deletion: “But I’m working on how to squeeze two jobs into one and if I just ignore things, they may go away cause I’m stretched soooooo thinnnnnnnnnnnnn.”)
  6. Subject: I am so livid right now. (Uh oh, sending emails when angry or upset is never a good thing and will forever hang a “snippy, snarky” title around your neck.) (Actual response before deletion: “Me too!”)

So, how do we get our emails read before the rest of the stampeding herd of communication? Here are ten subject lines  to make sure that your email is opened immediately:

  1. Subject: Fwd: Evidence that our organization is a cover for the CIA!
  2. Subject: FWD: Rumor alert! Downsizing-Guess who the CEO is firing next?
  3. Subject: The CEO created a new award and I’m nominating you!
  4. Subject: FWD: This reporter is asking our volunteer for a statement on organizations mishandling money. Can you help?
  5. Subject: Fwd: Shocking photos of staff napping during the last staff meeting. (this one is good for attachments)
  6.  Subject: This volunteer works for a company that gives non-profit grants of up to $50,000!
  7. Subject: A volunteer BROKE the new expensive projector and I’m charging a new one on the corporate credit card (you’ll probably get a phone call)
  8. Subject: Warning! Scandalous photos of board members attached! You won’t believe No. 7! (again, good for attachments)
  9. Subject: Fwd: You won’t believe what this volunteer overheard while working in Finance! Hint” Buy gold!
  10.  Subject: Fwd: This volunteer is thinking about donating $100,00!

I’ll admit, you can only use these once on each person and you’ll most likely be forced into a good one on one with a counselor, so maybe save them for an absolutely crucial email or the day you announce your retirement, whichever comes first.

But, maybe a little creative email can move us forward in the shuffle. At the very least,  it might just be a way to have a little fun.