Are You Teasing Me?
A lot of fundraising writers have it all wrong (in my opinion). They work for hours to develop copy that reads well, tells a great story, has a clear ask, and compels the recipient to open up the wallet and respond. The reply form is easy to use, and the insert advances the case to give.
But it isn’t until the last minute that they write the envelope teaser — that often-maligned “sales” copy printed on the front of the envelope. (For nonprofits using e-mail appeals, the subject line is the equivalent of the teaser.)
Let’s think like a donor for a minute. He or she sees your envelope first — and maybe last. If there is nothing that captures attention, you’re sunk. No matter what is in the envelope, your potential donor won’t see it. Your brilliant letter and award-winning photography has just been consigned to the recycling bin or trash can. Ditto on the e-appeal. If the subject line isn’t appealing, the e-mail is deleted. Worse, if the subject line is offensive or just boring, you could be eternally relegated to “junk sender” status.
So, let’s turn the process around and think first about what is going to get a donor into the envelope. Here are a few ideas from my mailbox.
A 'double whammy'
You know that big, blank backside of your envelope? Use it! Add a second teaser to increase your chances of capturing attention. Of the envelopes on my desk from the last week, more than half have huge, white (or Kraft) backs that are devoid of any compelling copy. There’s usually some printing (recycled paper logo, a mail code or return address), but nothing that gives me one last chance to reconsider and look inside. Adding a second teaser there costs nothing — and could get a potential donor to open the envelope.
Pamela consults with nonprofits, helping them develop their fundraising strategy and writing copy to achieve their goals. Additionally, she teaches fundraising at two universities, hoping to inspire the next generation of fundraisers to be passionate about the profession. Previously, Pamela led the fundraising programs for nonprofit organizations. Pamela is a member of the Advisory Panel for Rogare, the fundraising think tank at Plymouth University’s Hartsook Centre for Sustainable Philanthropy, a CFRE, a graduate of Wheaton College (IL) and Dominican University, and holds a Doctorate in Business Administration from California Southern University. Contact Pamela at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter at @pjbarden.