money in the mail

Recently I was leading a webinar on direct mail and a person asked this question:

“What should we include in our direct mail? Would a sticky note or brochure dramatically increase or decrease our money raised via appeals?”

This was at the end of the webinar, and I really did not know the answer to this one. But I asked some lovely people on Twitter, and Gayle Gifford of http://www.ceffect.com responded. Here’s what we came up with.

Adding things to your mailing can either help OR hurt you. Results are MIXED, according to both Mal Warwick and Stephen Hitchcock.

With all of the different things you can add to a mailing, (post it notes, pens, bookmarks, magnets, postcards) what is the most effective thing?

Try a yellow piece of paper, about a 3 1/2 x 8 1/2 sheet. This is called a Buck slip. You might want to include this when there’s an emergency or urgency around your appeal, like all of your arts funding is being cut from the government, or something. Here’s an example buck slip from Democracy NC.

Nonprofit Buck Slip

You can include other things like postcards and bookmarks, but you have to test and see if these work for YOUR donors, not just take someone’s word that they work for ALL donors. It’s a case by case thing.

Creating a call to action aside from “Send Us Money” like, “Send this postcard to your representative and ask them to continue to fund the arts” can also work.

For example, several weeks ago I received an Amnesty International appeal in the mail, and it included a card to send to someone imprisoned, and a pen too. Did I use the pen to write on the card? You bet I did! Did I actually mail the card back? No… I got distracted. But it made me remember it, and maybe the next time I’ll give, right? Well, maybe. But give people too many choices of things to do, and you’ll won’t get as many donations.

What about using special paper or envelopes?

Believe it or not, using white paper and standard envelopes works better than anything else.

(@kathyhowrigan also responded, and she said it could go either way.) What is YOUR experience?

Want 43+ more tips on how to write successful appeal letters? Just go here!