If your donors don’t open your fundraising appeal letter it doesn’t even matter what’s inside it. It doesn’t matter how compelling the ask is, how great you told the story, or even how you made the donor the hero of that story. If they don’t open the envelope, they’ll never read all of your hard work.
So, how do you get donors to open your fundraising appeal envelopes? Well, I’ve gone through the research and done a lot of testing in my own work and with consulting clients over the years, and here’s what I’ve found to be the top 4 most effective fundraising envelopes:
It works because it looks like personal correspondence. The additions of a handwritten address and first-class stamp make it look like a letter (remember those?) — not junk mail. Can you do this for your full list? Probably not. But can you do it for the top 10% of your mailing list?
It works because it stands out in the pile of mail. I especially love to use fluorescent colors which really pop. Many organizations like to use a bright version of their dominant brand color.
It works for the same reason as the brightly colored envelope … it stands out as it will be taller than all the bills. It’s typically just slightly more expensive than the brightly colored option. Greeting card sized (booklet) envelopes where your appeal letter is folded in half rather than in thirds tend to work well and are fairly economical.
This is the envelope that you have sitting around the office in boxes of 500. It works. It doesn’t work as well as the first three, but often it is safer and more economical to just use this than to try to get fancy. Just make sure it isn’t a window envelope. Those make your appeal letter look like junk mail and it ends up directly in the recycling bin.
It’s really this simple. All you have to do is pick one of these four options and not overthink it. Don’t get fancy with an image on the envelope or a tagline (e.g. “2020 Year-End Appeal”). Those can work, but they can also backfire. Remember, personal preference does not equal fundraising best practice.
Testing is key here. Find what works for your organization. Keep it simple and let them get to the amazing story of impact inside and learn how they can be a hero and help change the world by supporting your organization.
Chad Barger helps nonprofits overcome the barriers to fundraising success. He is a sought after nonprofit fundraising strategist, master trainer and coach who shares actionable nonprofit fundraising tips and free resources at productivefundraising.com.
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