The 3 Senses of Outer Envelopes
As you are reading this article, the first Fundraising Success Engage Conference is taking place in Philadelphia. At the pre-conference session yesterday, I was with a few dozen of your colleagues, reviewing direct-mail packages.
It was exciting to be part of a session that focused on direct mail since that has become the forgotten stepchild at most fundraising conferences. Focusing on electronic fundraising, crowd-fundraising and one-on-one fundraising apparently seems far more saleable. Yet direct mail remains an essential part of fundraising. Many, many dollars are raised for nonprofits every year through direct mail, and the arrival of the letter has even been shown to prompt online giving. So doing direct mail better can only enhance the bottom line.
Think of it as a building you are constructing. The stronger your foundation, the more "layers" you can add on top of it. Direct mail can be that strong foundation that allows more visible — shall we say "sexy"? — fundraising programs to launch and develop (and occasionally fail).
What your direct-mail letter says is critical. And ease of replying is essential. But failing to pay attention to the outer carrier (the envelope or whatever it is you use to deliver your mailing to your prospects or donors) can completely negate whatever you put inside it. After all, if the mailing never gets opened, the contents don't matter; they just become more "stuff" to leave at the curb for pickup and recycling.
To make sure your envelope is more than a means to deliver a carefully crafted letter and reply system, remember these three important things when evaluating your direct mail.
Direct mail envelopes are tactile
One of the first senses the prospective donor engages when receiving your direct-mail appeal is touch. Does your mailing feel like it matters? Is it a bit bulky, suggesting a mysterious insert? Is it thin, possibly containing a personal note? Is the paper stock intriguing to the fingertips?
Pamela Barden is an independent fundraising consultant focused on direct response. You can read more of her fundraising columns here.