Are You Still Using Return Address Labels?
By now, you probably know I love to organize. I have hundreds of direct mail and monthly giving examples scanned in. And over Christmas, I scanned in a huge box of family pictures. It’s all part of the downsizing and simplifying process my husband and I are going through. I must say, it’s tremendously liberating!
As part of all this scanning and organizing, I gathered a huge stack of address labels, note cards and calendars. I will not have to buy holiday cards, calendars or address labels probably for as long as I live! I’ve not had to write my return address on an envelope for decades.
Like match appeals, address labels are some of those items that never seem to get old. They keep on coming. Why? They must work; otherwise, nonprofits wouldn't be sending them.
I remember when address labels became all the craze some 30 years ago. They were the little stacks showing through the window. Boy, we’ve come a long way since then.
If 2020 became the year where the mail became more of a lifeline than ever before, I’m sure you probably wondered, does anybody still use address labels? Doesn’t everybody go online by now? Well, the reality is that so many of us, especially my generation, still like them (a lot).
The latest trend is to have a nonprofit’s return address label on the outgoing envelope to make it look even more personal. I received several holiday card appeals that way. If someone took the time to stick on that address label, I better open that envelope. (And of course, I better make a gift!) There clearly was an effort to reach out in more personal ways than before.
There’s something magical about a tiny gift of address labels that truly costs only a few pennies to mail. It’s certainly cheaper than including a nickel, a dime, a quarter or half a dollar! I’ve seen a bunch of those, too.
Now, if your nonprofit does not use address labels, it’s certainly not the end of the world — especially not if you’ve never used any type of “freemium.” I don’t recommend you start now. Most are hidden in the package anyway. But if you’ve used return labels in the past, test a small group without them and see the impact.
Because ultimately, it’s still about your donors. If you’re like me and many others in my generation (yes, I’m dating myself), you still love these address labels because it makes sending a card or letter so much easier — so keep them coming.
And of course, on the reply form, you’ll offer the option to give monthly, and you have lots of space on the back to explain the monthly donor option.
Will there come a time when you’ll stop using address labels? I think that time may come if we’re not sending any mail. But until then… I’ll be sure to keep using them!
How about you? How about the younger generation? Have you tested address labels against no address labels? How often do you use return address labels in your appeals? I’d love to know!
Erica Waasdorp is one of the leading experts on monthly giving. She is author of the book "Monthly Giving. The Sleeping Giant." She is the president of A Direct Solution, a company serving nonprofit organizations with fundraising and direct marketing needs, with a focus on monthly giving and appeals.
She just co-authored the "Monthly Giving Starter and Marketing Kit" with Donor Perfect, and she’s working on her next book called "Monthly Giving Made Easy." She regularly blogs and presents on fundraising, appeals and monthly giving—in person and through webinars. She is happy to answer any questions you may have about this great way of improving retention rates for your donors.
Erica has over 30 years of experience in nonprofits and direct response. She helped the nonprofits she works with raise millions of dollars through monthly giving programs. She is also very actively supports organizations with annual fund planning and execution, ranging from copywriting, creative, lists, print and mail execution.
When she’s not working or writing, Erica can be found on the golf course (she’s a straight shooter) or quietly reading a book. And if there’s an event with a live band, she and her husband, Patrick, can be found on the dance floor. She also loves watching British drama on PBS. Erica and Patrick have two step sons and cat, Mientje.
You can reach Erica at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (508) 776-1224.