Inspire action by using animation in your emails.

As much as we like to deny it, our animal instincts control much of what we do, holding our attention on anything that moves.

Your nonprofit organization can use that to your advantage, by adding a little movement to your email with an animated GIF to grab the reader’s attention and drive them to a specific action.

Learn to harness the power of animated images in your emails with these tips below.

What is a GIF?

A GIF is a series of images that plays on a loop.


If you’ve ever wanted to watch your favorite one-liner from a movie over and over again, you might like GIFs. The acronym stands for Graphics Interchange Format, which really just means a series of images without sound that repeats on a loop.

There is still some debate over the pronunciation of the word, whether it sounds like the peanut butter or a short cousin of the giraffe, but all that really matters is that you know when to use one and what GIF to use to convey your email’s message.

Use animation to pull a reader’s eyes through your email

A GIF can help your readers eyes continue down the page.


Images help to grab attention, but it also pulls a reader’s eyes down the text of your email, and a GIF has the same goal. Placing the animation below your headline will grab attention, but should also make your audience want to keep reading.

You also want to keep the look and feel of your email consistent, so make sure the colors in the GIF you use don’t clash with the colors of your email. The message of the GIF, especially if it uses words, should also tie in with your content.

Show how you want your reader to feel and act

The right GIF can help drive your audience to action.


Think of the connection between your headline and the GIF as a joke: the headline is the setup and the GIF is the punchline. Even the animations within each section of this article each comment on the subhead lines above.

The message of your email should relate back to your cause, so the setup and punchline combination should drive your reader to the action you want them to take. If you want the reader to sign up as a volunteer to your next fundraising event, then the headline should setup what the even is about. Then the GIF can show how you hope the reader will feel, needing to sign up and help the cause.

Tailor a GIF to your nonprofit audience

Making a custom GIF can help your message shine through the animation.


GIFs have exploded in popularity over the past few years, which means it’s easy to find one that’s perfect for your email’s message on sites like GIPHY, but you can also create your own GIF to make it perfect for your audience.

When choosing a GIF or creating one from scratch, make sure both the image and the reference to pop culture match with your target audience. Show the email to your whole team, or if you don’t have a team, to your friends that support your nonprofit’s cause. The GIF may might make you smile or laugh, but the real goal is for your audience to get it, so they can have the right reaction and want to help.

Get their attention and then get to the point

GIFs help your email get straight to the point.


Using a GIF in your email is not the goal, but is instead just another tool for holding someone’s attention long enough to get them to keep reading. Once you have their attention, get to the point as quickly as possible. As long as the animation is relevant both to your nonprofit audience and the goal of the email, you can use a GIF to drive a reader to a specific action.