Annual Appeals: Lists and Envelopes

This envelope Redstart Creative did for the One Love Foundation, included a fact about issue the organization works to address to encourage people to read thier message.

This envelope Redstart Creative did for the One Love Foundation, included a fact about issue the organization works to address to encourage people to read thier message.

To get donations from your appeal, you first need to get prospective donors to open your letter. Getting to this step includes consideration of two factors, your donor list and the envelope used to enclose your letter. Is the letter going to the right people and will it stand out in their daily pile of mail? In our first in a series of blogs on annual appeals, we will take a look at these two questions.

It’s easy to make the mistake. You spent weeks getting the message of your appeal just right. You sweated every image you want to include. Then you get to the mailing list and you’re running out of time. But, the mailing list should be the heart of your project. If your appeal isn’t reaching the right people, the return on all your other hard work will not be as high.

Crafting the donor list is an individual process for each organization. This Hubspot blog post has some great tips for segmenting a donor list to be more effective. Are you sending email appeals to people who prefer traditional mailings or vice-versa? Consider the effectiveness of crafting a letter reflecting your strong relationship with a long-time donors and one for an individual who recently attended an event of yours for the first time. Are you asking the donor for the correct amount based on their past giving? There are lots of considerations to make, but taking the time to make them will pay off considerably in the returns.

Once you have your mailing list, you have to overcome the next hurdle to getting your appeal read, getting your envelope opened. Your donors get letters seeking funds from many organizations. Even if you’ve done your advance work and this donor has an inclination towards your organization, getting them to take notice of your appeal in their mail pile can be a challenge.

It can be simple to give your envelope some pop. This envelope from the Miami Children’s Museum, has a simple illustration but effectively draws the eye. It highlights the donors name in bright pink then ties that donor in to their mission goals through the use of the sequence of gift tags. Without opening the letter, the prospective donor sees their connection to the museum and its goals.

Showing donors the people impacted by their donation, like this envelope from the Family and Children’s Association, also can engage donors. It’s a simple, two color plan, but the receiver will instantly be face-to-face with the people helped directly by their donation.

In a final example, the Toronto Second Harvest Food Bank sent this creative appeal that was constructed from the point of view of their food truck. The envelope introduces the concept with a fun cartoon of the truck greeting the donor. The letter and reply envelope also tie into the concept by having the letter come from the truck and the donor responding to the truck on the reply envelope.

So now your appeal is opened and read, so we can move on to asking for donations. What are the new trends in donations? We will cover that in the next blog in the series.

Part One – Trends and Tips
Part Three – Trends in Giving
Part Four – Acknowledgement Ideas