Special Report: Fundraising 101 Direct Mail
One of the many things I’ve learned in the five-plus years that FundRaising Success has been around is that fundraisers aren’t exactly a shy group. I mean, really, how could they be?
So I’m never too surprised when I find myself at industry functions inundated with questions about fundraising strategies. I am, however, often surprised at the level of advice many of our readers are looking for. “How do I set up a direct-mail program?” “What’s the first step in launching a capital campaign?” “How do I get more people to give me their e-mail addresses?” A lot of pretty basic stuff.
I’m reminded that new organizations are cropping up every day, and that fresh-faced, new fundraisers are joining the sector every day, as well. I’m reminded, too, that even though FS works hard to keep its readers abreast of the best and brightest ideas and strategies for raising more money for their causes, many of those readers are still trying to master the basics.
That’s why we’ve dedicated four issues in 2009 to our Fundraising 101 series, which we hope will offer a solid look at some of the more fundamental issues involved in nonprofit fundraising. We start this month with a look at direct mail. In April, we tackle acquisition; in June, it’s special efforts, including monthly giving, lapsed donors, capital campaigns and planned giving; and, finally, we look at e-philanthropy in October.
Whether you’ll be reading as a fundraising newbie looking for some entry-level guidance or as a seasoned professional looking for a refresher course to smooth the waters in this tough economic climate, we hope you’ll find these special reports immensely helpful. If you have any specific questions you’d like to see answered in upcoming issues of FundRaising Success, please e-mail them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Margaret Battistelli, Editor-in-Chief
7 Rookie Copywriting Mistakes to Avoid
By George Crankovic
The Eagles were slugging it out with the Cowboys, and even if you’re not a fan of “Monday Night Football,” you couldn’t help but be amazed at what happened next.
Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb stepped back and launched a 60-yard missile as rookie wide receiver DeSean Jackson sprinted downfield. Jackson caught the pass handily and tore off toward the goal line. Then, within a yard of the goal, he casually let the ball drop from his grasp, thinking he’d scored. He coasted into the end zone and did his dance. But his jubilation lasted only until the instant replay confirmed what everyone suspected — that Jackson had made it into the end zone, but the football hadn’t.
It was a typical rookie mistake, the embarrassing result when over-confidence collides with inexperience. But it doesn’t happen only to football players. Here are some typical rookie copywriting mistakes and how to sidestep them to produce work worthy of a pro.
Rookie Mistake No.1 — Not having a clear plan
The very first step is the one that bedevils newbies the most. They start writing furiously, or sit and wait for inspiration, or go on a week-long pencil-sharpening mission to look busy. Too bad, because creating a plan is easy — and motivating.
Sure, fundraising agencies use all kinds of creative briefs and strategy documents. Some are good, and many are quite complicated. But the essence of a sound plan is simple. Just answer these questions: Who are you writing to? Why are you writing to them? And why should they respond now? Do your research to figure that out and keep that information in front of you as you create your appeal, and you’ll stay on track.
Rookie Mistake No. 2 — Starting with the letter
While it’s true that the letter is the star of the package, it’s not the place to start — though most rookies think it is. Where do you start, then? The carrier, because it’s the first thing your prospect sees. So once you have a clear plan, it’s time to crystallize that vital information into a compelling carrier.
There’s a lot to consider — such as window envelope or closed face;
No. 10, 6-inch-by-9-inch or some other format; live postage or indicia; and, yes, teaser copy or no teaser copy. Think about your audience and the mind space your charity occupies; then put yourself in your readers’ shoes and discover what would pull them in. So when you’ve got that done, it’s time to tackle the letter, right? Uh, not yet.
Rookie Mistake No. 3 — Overlooking the response device
Rookies usually write the response-device copy as an afterthought once the letter is done. Bad idea. Before you start your letter, you want to be clear on where it will lead your readers — and it should lead directly to the response device. Think about the format of your response device. Will it be perfed off the letter or freestanding? What’s the size? Will you include financial-data pie charts, testimonial quotes or other credibility builders?
And when it comes to copy, refer to your plan. You want your call to action to be direct and clear, and to highlight one or more specific reasons to give now. This is vital. A good response device not only asks for the donation, but also reinforces the reasons to give.
Actually, there are two schools of thought on whether to work out the response device or the carrier first. Both components are critical to the
success of your appeal, so decide for yourself. The point is, doing these first makes it easier to write the letter. Why? Because now you know exactly where the goal line is.
Rookie Mistake No. 4 — Failing to consider donor benefits
Benefits? In fundraising letters? Absolutely. While copywriters tend to think of benefits only in business-to-business or consumer promotions, the fact is that benefits motivate donors to give.
For fundraising, benefits range from simply feeling good about giving,
to thinking of oneself as a compassionate person, to helping make the
world a better place. For example, think about your nonprofit. How is it making an impact? How is it making a difference in people’s lives, local communities, the world? These are big benefits to donors that are powerful reasons to give.
Rookie Mistake No. 5 — Avoiding the ask
Rookie writers often shy away from asking for donations. They think it’s pushy. Sorry, but that’s just wrong. Remember, this is direct mail, so be direct and tell your recipients exactly what you want them to do. You want them to donate.
Don’t soften the ask with words like “support,” “partnership” or “friendship.” These words are fine in other parts of your letter, of course, but when the moment of truth arrives, come right out and ask for a donation. Say, “please donate now,” along with one or more compelling reasons why your reader should.
Rookie Mistake No. 6 — Writing ‘purple prose’
Yes, you want your stories and your descriptions of the need to spark emotion in your readers. But if you overuse adjectives and metaphors, you risk ending up with drivel like this: “The awesome burden of Sasha’s unending poverty fell like a heavy weight upon her small shoulders, and as she struggled to provide for herself and her kids and considered the hopelessness of her plight, the tears streamed down her face like rain on a window pane.”
Wow — what drama! The problem is, the drama is so phony that it upstages credibility.
Save the florid writing for your 1940s-era detective novel. The best stories and descriptions for fundraising are ones that tell themselves without embellishment. Think Hemingway. Be direct. That’s how to pull readers in.
Go back and reread your stories and descriptions with an eye toward eliminating unneeded adjectives and adverbs. Instead, focus on strong verbs. That’s where the power is, because verbs are action, and people lock onto writing that has action. Your copy will move readers. It will have the ring of truth.
Rookie Mistake No. 7 — Forgetting that the letter is a letter
Beginners sometimes think that a fundraising letter should be a polemic raging against poverty, animal abuse or whatever the cause is. Not so. A fundraising letter is, first and foremost, a letter. Sure, there are times when the right tone is outrage. But even then, your letter still should read like a letter from one person to another. Not an essay. Not a philosophical treatise. Not a journalistic think piece.
Direct mail is the most immediate and personal medium. You should make use of that fact. You want your reader to feel that the signer of the letter is a real and concerned person, not a faceless corporate entity. Think about the signer. What kind of person is he or she? Think about your
charity’s brand. What are its characteristics? Try to incorporate some of these qualities into your letter.
Overall, you want to strive for an informal, warm, conversational tone, because that’s what most people respond to. Use contractions. Use italics for emphasis. Vary your sentence length. Begin sentences with “and,” “but,” “so” and “or.” No, it’s not grammatically incorrect. Use fragments. (They are grammatically incorrect, but who cares? They’re conversational.) When you’re done writing, go back and reread it again. Does it sound like a letter written by a human being in the 21st century to another human being? When you can answer yes, you’re good to go.
From average Joe to pro
If these rookie mistakes seem like a lot to cover when you’re in the heat of composition or slammed against a deadline, don’t worry. Just use these seven concepts as a checklist before and after you write. You’ll start off strong and be able to make some minor adjustments as you review what you’ve written.
Above all, enjoy the process of creating your fundraising appeal. You are engaged in noble work that benefits a good cause. And remember, even the pros make rookie mistakes from time to time. But that’s rare, because they focus on fundamentals. Get those down cold and you’ll have instincts and reactions that you can rely on, even with crazed deadlines. You’ll be a strong performer, a clutch player. You’ll be a pro.
10 Things You MUST Know About Direct-Mail Fundraising in a Tough Economy
By Steve Maggio
1. Don’t panic
Keep in mind that direct-mail fundraising has survived serious crises in the past. There was a terrible recession in the early ’70s — 1973 to 1975 were particularly tough years.
More recently, we’ve come through the terrorist attacks and anthrax scares of 2001, and the effects of major natural disasters such as the tsunami in Southeast Asia and Hurricanes Katrina and Rita on America’s Gulf Coast. In each case, most direct-mail fundraising programs took a serious hit. But the economy, and our industry, bounced back.
Should we set expectations a bit lower this year? I believe so. But I’m not recommending drastic changes in any of our clients’ programs.
We’re all in the same boat, people! This, too, shall pass. The short-term economic outlook might be dire, but an injection of new ideas could put us on the path to recovery before the year is out. And some direct-mail donors become motivated by a poor economy, because it’s obvious that more people are hurting.
Fundraising programs will rebound with a combination of “back to basics” direct-mail strategy and an embrace of new media and technology to help us adapt to our changing world.
2. Acquisition is still the lifeblood of your program
In difficult times, many of us find ourselves rising to the defense of our direct-mail acquisition programs. Acquisition sticks out like a sore thumb as the part of your program that, most likely, loses money. Even the best programs in the most promising sectors usually only come close to breaking even. You might decide it’s best to keep your investment in new-donor acquisition flat this year, but don’t slash and burn.
Decreasing new-donor acquisition programs will increase your net income only in the short term. However, not mailing acquisition will cost you next year … and the year after that … and the year after that. Your board members might not understand this, but it’s your job to explain it to them.
Acquisition is an investment that pays off over time, when you add new donors who will renew and upgrade their giving over succeeding years. You must weigh the short-term benefits of cutting back on acquisition versus the long-term risk of not acquiring new donors.
3. The list is the most important component of your mailing
The best offer, the strongest copy, and the most compelling direct-mail design and format won’t work if they’re not aimed at the right audience. The list is the most important part of your mail plan.
Today, it’s more important than ever to minimize risk in new-donor acquisition. Choose lists based on past performance. Measure performance by income per thousand letters mailed and cost to acquire a donor. Cost to acquire a donor is calculated by dividing the net investment (or loss) by the number of donors acquired. As a general rule, the most you should invest to acquire a donor is the average gift of that donor, i.e., the cost to acquire a $20 donor should be $20 or less.
If the investment is greater than the average gift for a particular list, you probably should not continue using that list unless there are other measures that are exceptional, such as a very high percentage of response or average gift. Otherwise, payback simply will take too long.
When choosing lists, select organizations that have missions similar to your own. There are also predictive models you can test — lists that use your housefile data to build a profile of your most attractive prospects.
You also should employ a “package to list strategy.” For example, if you are testing a list of premium-acquired donors, you might want to send that list an address label or some other premium format. Lists that acquire donors without using premiums often work best with mission-driven appeals. Continual testing will help you refine your list planning and arrive at your best mix of lists.
4. Segment your donor file for maximum performance
The traditional way of segmenting a file by RFM is still a must. That means segmenting donors by how recently and frequently they’ve given as well as by the monetary amount.
This technique allows you to vary copy, design, format and offer to suit each individual segment. For example, donors who have given a gift of $100 or more in the past 12 months should be recognized in the
letter and perhaps invited to join a donor club.
Many organizations have midlevel donor clubs and major-donor societies, each with a series of tiered giving levels with different recognition benefits associated with them. Donors who give frequently — say three or more times a year — might be invited to join a monthly donor club.
There’s an old saying that a donor isn’t a donor until he’s made his second gift. The first gift shows interest, but the second gift really indicates commitment. For this reason, we’ll create “prelapsing” strategies, with conversion packages that try to get the donor to make that second gift within a 12-month time frame. LYBUNTS (donors who gave “last year but not this year”) can receive a special message, and lapsed donors who haven’t given in perhaps 24 months or more can receive a customized “win-back” package that says “we miss you, we need you — and we want you back.”
I like to brand each appeal with a distinct theme, for example, Annual Fund, Member Drive, Research Appeal, etc. This way, each appeal has its own look and feel — all within the umbrella of the rganization’s identity standards and brand image. It gives your program variety and provides donors with plenty of choices.
Think of each appeal as a unique product that donors might choose. It’s similar to the way commercial organizations appeal to different segments by creating brand extensions. One customer might prefer Coke Classic, but there are others who want caffeine-free, Diet Coke, Coke Zero or some other variation that appeals to their unique needs and tastes.
These days, people are taking segmentation to an even higher level by using data overlays (wealth ratings, age, home ownership, etc.) to identify new segments and tailor special offers and messaging to them.
Someone who is 50-plus years old and has given to your organization for eight to 10 consecutive years is a prime candidate for a planned-giving offer. People who give through multiple channels — mail, Web, special events — can be treated differently than those who just give through the mail.
5. Get personal
Every message you send to your donor should sound like a one-to-one conversation. Talk to the donor as if you know her, and are cognizant of her interests and giving preferences. I like to have a personalized salutation on
my letters, and I often use the donor’s name and state and/or town name in the body of the letter.
To me, a letter should look like a letter — not a brochure. Some organizations like to have pictures on the letter or use more than one person to sign it. I prefer to design letters to look like real letterhead, and have one signatory. It makes the letter look like a personal, one-to-one communication.
I almost always use a P.S. that restates the offer, sometimes adding a deadline to increase urgency.
6. Test everything
Be as aggressive as your budget will allow. Test different lists, formats, offers, copy and design. Test the timing of appeals — and test reminders to key appeals in successful time periods.
You might want to consider testing a more aggressive copy approach in response to the economy. I believe it’s acceptable to mention the hardships you face due to the economy as long as you tie it back to your mission. For example, if you are a food bank and you have X percent more people coming through your doors due to job losses, that’s a relevant fact to which donors will relate. Emergency appeals do tend to work. You just can’t have an emergency every month.
You also can test postage treatments on both your outgoing envelope and reply envelope. Many find that using multiple stamps on a reply envelope pays off at a certain donor level.
7. Cultivate your donors
Make sure you’re thanking donors on a timely basis. It’s common courtesy, and people do take notice. You can use your acknowledgement program to encourage corporate matching gifts, memorial/tribute gifts and planned-giving opportunities, as well.
Many effective direct-mail programs use newsletters to educate and inform donors. Even an 11-inch-by-17-inch, four-panel format gives you enough space to delve deeper into your mission and show the donor
specifically what her gift is helping you achieve.
Putting your newsletter into an envelope with a cover letter that includes a direct ask — as well as a separate reply slip and reply envelope — can increase your gross income tenfold over a self-mailer format.
For major donors, you also might want to include some nonsolicitation touchpoints in the mail mix. Some organizations send DVDs to highlight their missions at certain donor levels. Or you might invite your majors to special events. Even if they don’t attend, extending the invitation makes a positive impression and shows them you’re not always just asking for gifts.
8. Be accountable
Accountability is important these days, especially for the younger donors we all covet. Explaining how careful and efficient you are with donors’ hard-earned money is helpful. Describe exactly what their donations will do. You also can include this messaging on the back of the reply slip. For example, use a pie chart that illustrates the high percentage of funds that go directly to the mission.
9. Reinforce your brand
The essence of your brand is a set of shared values that you have in common with your donors. They became donors because they feel the same way you do about an issue that is very important to them, whether it be fighting cancer, helping homeless people or protecting animals. You have a connection, a bond — and the act of giving satisfies an important need in the hearts and minds of your donors. It makes them feel good. Every message your donors receive should remind them of why they gave to your organization in the first place. Reinforce your brand, nurture that common bond, and make the donor more involved in your mission and more loyal to your cause.
10. Integrate new methods and media
If you’re like most fundraisers, you’ve been collecting donor e-mails on reply slips for some time now. Building your e-mail list “organically” this way is best. It’s also common practice to include a URL on each direct-mail package that drives folks who prefer to give online to a unique landing page. The landing page echoes the look and feel of the direct-mail appeal and allows you to measure results.
Test e-mail blasts that focus on specific offers or urgent needs. Test e-mail and phone as a premail setup or postmail reminder for special programs such as monthly donor clubs. SMS, or text messaging, also is being explored by some organizations to engage young people.
The key to future success will be to integrate the donor data you receive through the direct-mail program with all of your other sources, such as Internet donations, special events, volunteer programs, text messaging, etc., to create a multichannel donor-communication strategy.
3 Things You Absolutely Must Know About Paper This Year
By Crystal Uppercue
When planning your direct-mail campaigns for 2009, you’ll want to weigh your paper options carefully. The paper you choose to convey your message can speak volumes about your organization.
You also must consider paper costs versus aesthetic look and feel. Which is more important in a year that might force you to make budget cuts?
Finally, by evaluating green paper options, fundraisers should take a cue from consumers who are practicing being greener and leaner.
1. Manage costs
Industry expert Verle Sutton expects a decline in 2009 paper prices. Sutton, who is president of R.O.S. Paper Sales and founder, editor and publisher of Forestweb’s monthly newsletter, The Reel Time Report, says that the 2007–2008 price surge substantially reduced demand, and spot prices already have begun to decline, according to a special report posted on BtoB Media Business on Nov. 6.
That’s good news for direct mailers, but campaigns managers still need to watch costs.
- Try substituting the new brighter, whiter, uncoated offset stocks for opaque paper. They offer the same brightness as the “old” shades of opaque but are less expensive.
- To utilize as much of the paper as possible, ask your printer about “gang-running” several of your printed pieces together on one sheet. For example, if you’re printing a reply card, can you fit a postcard on the sheet to use with another mailing? Such preplanned combos are a great use of leftover space on a press sheet.
- Find out if your printer offers house stocks that incorporate special pricing from paper suppliers. And do consider these when comparing house and premium papers and prices for your upcoming print campaign.
- Investigate a print-on-demand application (sometimes called “just in time” printing). This system allows marketers to upload print collateral templates to a site and order pieces “as needed” instead of ordering in bulk. Companies that use this application for “just in time delivery” save paper, warehouse and distribution costs.
- Talk to your print vendor about how to achieve a “textured” paper look through printing. For example, if you like a stock that has a leather or grainy look, you can always achieve a similar look by adding an artistic design to the background of your printed piece.
2. Match medium to message
NewPage, a leading producer of coated paper in North America, continued its Response Project research at the 2008 DMA convention in Las Vegas. NewPage confirmed that, yes, even with this sophisticated audience, paper influences purchase choice. Sixty-seven percent of respondents were influenced by the heaviest paper stocks, despite other basic components like graphics, colors, photos and text remaining the same.
The bottom line is this: When selecting paper, the fundamental question should be how the physical attributes of the paper can help you achieve your goals.
- Aesthetic objectives include the mood the printed piece should convey; the impression the piece can create about the organization; or whether the tone of the piece should be fun, corporate or something in between. Such aesthetic questions might lead you to rule out a glossy stock for a text-heavy piece or specify a high-quality paper to bring life to an outdoor or wildlife campaign.
- Functional objectives include considerations such as whether the piece will have to stand up to a lot of folding and unfolding (e.g., a map); whether or not the piece might be written on (e.g., a calendar); if thickness requirements for reply cards or size limitations for postal discounts will pass U.S. Postal Service scrutiny; or whether your piece will be read and discarded, or kept for months or maybe even years.
- Nonprofit organizations seeking donations through direct-mail solicitations might want to consider how paper choices could influence the recipients’ perspective of the organization’s need. For example, a glossy, high-end printed piece could make your potential donor perceive that you’ve spent (read: wasted) more money on mailings than on supporting the cause.
3. Keep an eye on green
In a recent survey reported on the blog Talent Insights, nearly 70 percent of respondents said they would be more likely to work with a company that “goes green” and uses sustainable practices. In the printing industry, that means knowing where your paper comes from, adhering to strict standards and helping your customers make wise choices for their projects.
Recycled papers help reduce the amount of paper in our landfills; they’re readily available and generally derived from two sources:
- Post-Consumer Waste, recovered papers that have served their original purpose and require de-inking, bleaching and other processing to be used again, and;
- Pre-Consumer Waste, recovered paper that has never reached the consumer, like trim waste and residual rolls from a printer.
Expect to pay approximately 10 percent more for recycled papers due to the cost of the recycling equipment necessary to recapture post-consumer waste. The good news is that paper can be recycled numerous times until the elemental fibers break down to the point where they are no longer solid.
In selecting recycled stock, consider how it is processed and categorized. Recycled papers typically are categorized by the bleaching process used to create them. These categories are TCF (Totally Chlorine Free), ECF (Elemental Chlorine Free) and PCF (Process-Chlorine Free).
TCF means that no chlorine compounds are used to whiten virgin-content paper. Therefore, any paper with post-consumer waste cannot be designated TCF. ECF is fairly common, and its bleaching process uses chlorine dioxide as the bleaching agent instead of chlorine gas, significantly reducing the dioxins discharged from a paper mill. PCF indicates that no chlorine was used in the production of the recycled product.
PCF is the environmental alternative for processing recycled fibers (not virgin) when it is unclear whether or not chlorine bleach was used in the original processing. It does not indicate that the fiber has never been bleached using chlorine during its lifetime.
Think about envelopes, too. A new biodegradable window film option is made from either processed wood pulp or polylactic, a bioplastic made from readily renewable resources such as corn, soybeans or potatoes. PLA features excellent clarity, scratch resistance and tear strength, and is also approved by the Postal Service MERLIN tests — a test of a bar code to make sure it is readable by the USPS system’s machines.
It’s also important to understand the two certification options for paper:
- The Sustainable Forestry Initiative was developed by the American Forest and Paper Association. Members of SFI commit to ensuring the sustainability and health of our forests by adhering to the principles of the program, and by educating loggers and foresters in best management practices. In order to be certified, an SFI program participant must undergo a thorough review of its operations by an accredited audit firm.
- Since 1933, the Forest Stewardship Council has overseen a global initiative to promote sustainable forestry. Headquartered in Bonn, Germany, the council sets the criteria and standards that address economic, social and environmental concerns. FSC certification has strong recognition throughout the world, and it strives to offer its members a “chain of custody” certification process between member companies.
Will 2009 be a “Happy New Year”? Right now it looks uncertain, but we do know that changes and challenges often go hand in hand with opportunity. Smart direct marketers will keep on mailing and, no matter what, will remain attuned to best practices that control costs, match paper to message and work “green.”
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.
Other positive features include the built-in reply envelope for donor checks or credit-card privacy that increase donor response. In addition, on the inside are the appeal letter, more photos, text, headlines, the donor-reply form and, again, the BRE to complete the all-in-one fundraising self-mailer format. The donor-reply form can be personalized with donor-identification information, including specific donor-file identification codes, as well as variable gift-array charges based on previous donation levels.
The donor-reply form also can be designed as a perforated bangtail conveniently attached to the built-in BRE for easy removal, assuring that no pieces are lost or discarded accidentally. The BRE in this in-line format also can be “appeal enhanced,” as it is created equally from the higher-quality paper print graphics and, say, four-color process bleeds to create nice thank-yous on the BRE at almost no additional cost.
The self-mailer format can be personalized on two sides, inside and out, during the in-line print process and while being finished. This process allows for the outer address panel, appeal letter, donor-reply form and more to have personalization that is fail-safe and matched only to one specific donor name per self-mailer, as part of the normal in-line process.
Your direct-mail printer might be willing to send you fundraising appeal samples of successful self-mailers to assist your decision making and creative effort.
The creative design of these in-line self-mailers usually is made easy using e-templates from your direct-mail printer or lettershop. Ask for these templates when you’re starting the process or for creative design assistance. Some printers have design-on-line features right on their interactive Web sites.
In the mail
The most efficient nonprofit shape-based sizes take advantage of U.S. Postal Service standard nonprofit letter rate discounts. Shape-based, letter-sized formats must be rectangular in shape for automated processing by the Postal Service. They must meet all postal aspect ratios. Shape-based sizes can be as small as 3.5-inches-by-4.625-inches up to 6.125-inches-by-15.375-inches. This maximum larger size is still shaped-based and a real attention getter that stands out for the same postage cost as a standard nonprofit letter rate. The larger, potentially full-color appeal, at no extra postage, can be a very attractive option for a fundraising program looking for a better response.
In the in-line print and finishing process, the costly and difficult-to-open wafer seal is eliminated by way of using “fugitive glue spots.” The proper fugitive glue, when applied in-line, functions to close the self-mailer and all panels for proper Postal Service operations. This in-line spot tack closure is approved by the Postal Service and used every day in the postal system. And the fugitive glue option is much more cost-effective than the wafer-seal method.
Further postage-savings optimization for self-mailers can be accomplished using co-mingling going deep into the mailstream, depending on the quantity being mailed. Usually any quantity at 50,000-plus gets postage-savings optimization.