Special Report: Fundraising 101 Direct Mail
Keep Your Options Open: An Alternative to the Traditional Envelope
By Paul Beegan
Many articles have been written over the past few years addressing technology-driven tools fundraisers now have at their disposal. With applications from Change.org, YouTube, MySpace and Facebook, etc., fundraisers have many new networking techniques to help their organizations reach potential supporters. And each avenue has its advantages.
But Internet technology is only part of the overall picture. The strongest fundraising campaigns are multifaceted, and solid multichannel efforts require the printed message. In other words, you cannot eliminate or discount the importance of a strong mailing campaign.
A multichannel effort must include direct mail. Direct-mail strategies have been the mainstay for solid nonprofit fundraising campaigns for years — and still are. Fundraisers, like all good businesspeople, need to be able to touch a variety of targets in a variety of ways. Direct mail still is the most important connection and the most effective line of communication between you and your donors.
The first thing your donor or potential donor sees when she receives a direct-mail package is, of course, the mailer. So there are lots of things to consider when choosing it.
Some fundraisers always use the No. 10 envelope with a No. 9 return envelope, along with an appeal letter and other elements. The pages and pieces, which have to be inserted into a No. 10 envelope, create the additional expense of more paper and are labor-intensive.
But these standard envelopes aren’t the only option. Another proven method that fundraisers can use is the all-in-one, “shape-based” self-mailer that includes a built-in BRE. The fundraising self-mailer — aka a two-way mailer or “round tripper” — is a valuable, lower-cost way to achieve good response results in your nonprofit direct-mail campaigns. They come in a wide variety of attractive formats and offer additional features that get attention, get the fundraising appeal opened by the donor and increase response.
Drawing them in
Most fundraising specialists agree that the most important challenge in regard to a mailing is getting the recipient’s attention long enough to motivate her to open it. Some of the many positive features you can use on a self-mailer’s front and back outside panels include full, four-color process colors, eye-catching outer designs, compelling photos, captions, bleeds, heartfelt headlines and text — just to name a few. All of these outer-panel selling features get seen before the self-mailer is opened or can be discarded due to a possible lack of interest in the appeal itself.