Getting Your Fundraising Envelope Opened, Part 2

Last week, we discussed the kind of envelopes that are currently working in the fundraising niche. But the envelope isn’t the only thing that gets your prospective donor to open the letter.

Other enticements include teaser copy, graphics, address style, and stamps. Understanding how these factors affect response will help you design an appeal that becomes a winner.

Teaser Copy: Making Your Envelope More Attractive – but Not Always!

A recent issue of Fundraising Success Magazine discussed how effective envelope copy could be in certain circumstances and for certain donors … but not all of them.

For instance, older donors – those 60 and over – still respond to traditional emotion-based teaser copy. But this group is shrinking. And many of those who are still alive have entered planned-giving programs.

Younger donors are more skeptical and less emotional. They’ve witnessed the effects of social and economic unrest, charity scandals, and fundraising abuses. Emotional or alarmist teasers do more to turn them off than convince them to open the package.

They also do not respond to teasers that are obvious requests for donations. Instead, they respond best to teasers that create curiosity … or to no teaser at all. One animal protection group, for example, harnessed their prospect’s curiosity with a teaser saying “Elephant Enclosed.” The “elephant” referred to a set of elephant postcards inside the package.

In general, teasers tend to work better for organizations that deal with urgent aid or high-impact, time-sensitive issues rather than ongoing social services.

Here are 8 recent successful teaser approaches:

  1. Ask a question: “How do you measure hope?”
  2. Arouse curiosity: “Elephant Enclosed”
  3. Hint at a gift: “A Special Gift for you inside …”
  4. Demonstrate exclusivity: “Your exclusive briefing on …”
  5. Hint at success: “11,327 families fed last Christmas”
  6. Create urgency: “Urgent: Christmas Countdown!”
  7. Capitalize on current events: “War and Winter in Afghanistan”
  8. Make it an invitation: “Your invitation to turn a life around …”

A Small Thing to Make Your Envelope More Personal … and Successful

Using envelopes with a window for the address is far less expensive than using closed-face carriers. But closed-face envelopes are more personal and pull better response rates – which makes them economical to the point of paying for themselves.

The Sierra Club recently tested a window envelope against its three-year closed-face control. The closed-faced carrier won … and remains unbeaten.

Envelope Graphics – When They Work … and When They Don’t

Envelope graphics can make an organization’s envelope stand out in the prospect’s mail. In addition, they can effectively communicate the organization’s mission in a way that resonates strongly with recipients … and drives more of them inside.

Graphics work well for advocacy organizations, such as environmental groups since a lot of what they want to communicate is visual.

Graphics don’t work for every organization. But if you’re writing for an organization that can afford to test its mailings, this is one factor that should definitely be tested.

How the Right Postage Choice Gets Your Envelope Opened

Real stamps – known in direct marketing as “live stamps” – look more personal than metered postage and pre-printed indicia. Testing shows that about three-quarters of the time, live stamps beat the other two options.

One very successful strategy is to use multiple live stamps that add up to full postage. Makes it look like the sender rummaged through her desk drawer and put the stamps on the envelope herself. Talk about personal!

First-Class stamps pull exceptionally well when used in mid- to high-dollar donor mailings. This target group wants to feel special, which First-Class stamps help accomplish.

The Sierra Club came up with an interesting tactic to give their mailing a live-stamp “look” – with a twist. Postage was printed on the envelope, and then they added attractive, faux stamps tied to the organization’s mission.

It’s more expensive to use live stamps. And it takes longer to get the package in the mail. But the increased response almost always justifies the extra time and cost.

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The Professional Writers’ Alliance

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Published: June 26, 2006

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