Words to Live By
Helen Kennedy, CFRE and partner at Lewis Kennedy Associates, a Portland, Ore.-based provider of fundraising, research and planning services to community-based nonprofit organizations, agrees: “We often find that less is better for all kinds of philanthropy. No teasers, no photos. However, mentioning a deadline can help if it’s for a real reason — like matching a Kresge grant.”
Still others take the minimalist approach to the extreme. Bryan Terpstra, senior account director, client services, at Holliston, Mass.-based L.W. Robbins and Associates, a full-service direct marketing agency that works exclusively with nonprofits, suggests printing nothing at all on the outer envelope: “For reactivation efforts, blind envelopes — and I mean blind, so no logos or anything — have really helped to boost response rates, especially combined with a size that is not a typical No. 10.”
Terpstra was quick to point out there are USPS rules for blind envelopes by adding, “You can mail blind outers at the nonprofit postage rate, but you must use a nonprofit meter that has a ZIP of origin. And you can mail blind if you use First Class postage.” However, he adds, “if you presort First Class and use First Class presorted stamps, you must have a return address on the piece. It’s best to check with the local post office.”
If going cold turkey seems a bit too extreme, you might consider saving the front of the envelope for just the name of the organization and moving the address to the back flap.
“I like to leave the corner card for the logo and to make the envelope look as if it is from someone, preferably the president, and not just an organization,” according to Washington, D.C.-area copywriter and consultant Linda Lapp. “Older donors grew up respecting authority figures. If I can use this on the corner card I almost always do.”