How to get donors to enable images in email

Enable images to see this great email example!

As a rule, I don't enable images in emails. And I've blogged about how annoying it is to get blank emails from businesses and nonprofits I'm interested in.

The solution obviously is to send emails in both text and HTML. But that doesn't look as pretty and it makes it hard for tracking open rates in email analytics.

An alternative to plain text

I just opened the email above and cracked up. I've never seen a creative use of "alt text" in that image space. I'm generally impressed when I see someone describe what the image is! But here Chris used humor and my name in the images to try to get me to see his nice graphic: Psst! Enable your images, Marc!

You can see that he'd already merged my name in the subject line and in the salutation. So why wouldn't he use that same ability to merge my name into that image field? Very clever!

Could this help your nonprofit?

So many nonprofits send beautiful emails filled with gorgeous images. But if people don't have images enabled, it's all for naught. Worse, many people don't even know it's their own setting. They think your nonprofit messed up the email.

What if your top one had "Pssst! Enable your images, [first name]!" in it? To do it, the next time you insert an image in an email, fill out both the "title" field and the "alt" or "alt text" field!

About Marc A. Pitman

Marc A. Pitman is the CEO of The Concord Leadership Group, the author of Ask Without Fear! and director of The Nonprofit Academy. A coach to leaders around the world, Marc's expertise and enthusiasm engages audiences and has caught the attention of media organizations as diverse as Al Jazeera and Fox News. Marc’s experience also includes pastoring a Vineyard church, managing a gubernatorial campaign, and teaching internet marketing and fundraising at colleges and universities. He is the husband to his best friend and the father of three amazing kids. And if you drive by him on the road, he’ll be singing 80’s tunes loud enough to embarrass his family! You can connect with him on Google+, on Twitter @marcapitman, and like "Ask Without Fear!" on Facebook.
To get his free ebook on 21 ways to get board members engaged with fundraising, go to


  1. Glad you liked it, Marc! Credit where credit is due - I got that little tip from Jordan Hatch at Infusionsoft.

  2. Hey Marc!

    I like the idea because it's getting the user's attention. But as someone who works in digital I would advise against it. Using an alt tag that isn't descriptive of the image goes against AODA web compliance, which is designed to make the web more accessible. Alt tags are essential for those who can't load or view images, for example.

    Another great place you could put this is in the preheader!


    • Thanks Simren,

      I almost mentioned that in my post. But I'd ask you: When was the last time you saw an AODA compliant nonprofit email?

      So I hope that getting nonprofits to be aware of the "ALT" tag will take them one step closer to AODA compliance. I might be dreaming, but that was part of my rationale. 🙂


  1. [...] not automatically show images in email. Marc Pitman shares a recent email he got with a cute way to get your audience to enable their images and see your pretty [...]

  2. [...] you could just use the alt text to, you know, ask your readers to enable the images. Marc Pitman posted this email he received that did just [...]

What would you add?