No matter your organizations’ size or budget, every nonprofit or professional fundraising consultant must have or recommend using gift envelopes in order for donors to send in their contribution(s). There are times to use postage-paid envelopes (Business Reply Envelopes or BRE’s), and there are times to use regular gift envelopes. Even so, no matter the type of gift envelope, I’ll tell you how to use them and immediately raise more money for your nonprofit.
As a fundraising consultant and trainer, I always emphasize how you can raise more money with gift envelopes simply by placing them in every piece of literature that goes out of your organization and into your community. This includes your annual report, newsletters, press kits, speaker’s bureau literature, agency brochures, invitations, fundraising letters, and thank-you letters. Yes, as an annual fund expert, I make sure all non profits fully understand the importance of placing reply envelopes into your letters which thank donors for their donation.
Let’s talk a bit about placing envelopes in your thank-you letters. In working with and training board members, there’s usually some resistance in adding this strategy to your fundraising plan. Many feel it’s greedy, sends a poor message and may even put you at risk of losing donors. I’ve worked with non profits of all sizes for over twenty years implementing this strategy, and I can tell you it’s not true. You will increase the amount of money you raise simply by incorporating the abundant use of reply envelopes into your fundraising strategy. Donors are more likely to view a gift envelope as a convenience. If you send out a significant amount of thank-you letters, you will begin to raise more money almost immediately.
This next gift envelope fundraising tactic may blow your mind; please trust that it works, the results Wagner Fundraising has tracked over the years speak for themselves. Many fundraising professionals understand that it’s important for a direct-mail program to send something to donors every month. As mentioned earlier, these monthly mailings are newsletters, fundraising letters, an annual report, open house invitation, and seasonal recognition opportunities; like Mother’s Day and holidays.
In preparing your direct mail annual calendar, you may find that there are a couple of months out of the year where you don’t have anything to mail to your donors. Test this tactic; prepare your direct-mail piece using your gift envelope as the ONLY insert. Again, during those two months when you don’t have anything of significance to send to your donors, place a gift envelope inside your mailing envelope and send using regular or bulk mail depending on the size of your mailing list. If you don’t believe it works, go to Wagner Fundraising’s website at wagnerfundraising.com and read endorsements from my workshop attendee’s and read how this tactic helped their giving increase.
Here are real statistics, from Wagner Fundraising Groups’ clients when using gift envelopes to raise more money. A mailing was sent to 2,200 donors who gave twice or more in previous years. This group was defined due to their trend in sending more than one gift annually to that organization. This first “Envelope within an Envelope” mailing, as they called it, raised $14,566.50 and received two calls wondering where the letter was. In fact, this direct-mail tactic worked so well that they permanently added the “Envelope within an Envelope” mailing to their annual development strategy, and you should too.
An interesting finding in beginning to place gift envelopes in all organizational mailings is that other direct-mail campaigns do not suffer. You will understand and reap the benefits of witnessing that particular donors will give every time you sent them an envelope, regardless of the insert. When you begin to use gift envelopes in all of your mailings, you will raise more money, and you will realize the additional revenue within a year.