How To Be Sure Your Donor Actually Opens Your Year-End Fundraising Letter

Take a look at this stack of mail.

Big Stack of Mail Isolated on White

When will your donor even sort through all this stuff? Will your donor even notice your appeal letter?

And what are the chances that your donor will actually open your letter?

Let’s see if we can stack the deck in our favor and increase the odds she’ll open and read our letter.

Let’s tell a story:

Here’s Jane Smith, a long-time friend of the SPCA (insert your cause here!).  She’s harried.  She’s late to pick up her kids from after school care, and now she’s rushing to the grocery story to get some dinner.

It’s a cool autumn evening, and Jane’s hugs her sweater tightly around her as she drives home.  She walks in the door, throws the groceries on the table, and heads to the mailbox to pick up the mail.  She distractedly flips through masses of mail – junk mail, political ads, newsletters, bills – you name it.

Will YOUR ENVELOPE attract her attention? Let’s go on with the story and see what happens.

Jane’s busy but something in the mail stack catches her eye.

It’s an envelope in an odd color.Colorful envelope - 6

It stands out. She picks it up and sees that it’s your return address.

Then she notices that there is a REAL STAMP on the letter.  Gosh, this must be a special letter. It has been hand stamped. Jane knows that this is no junk mail piece. It’s something meant especially for her.

Then she notices that several board members she knows have personally written their names above the return address. It looks a bit messy with three signatures up there, but she can immediately tell that this is indeed a special letter, meant for her alone. She thinks, “how nice of them.”

Finally, she notices that her address is hand written. Someone has taken the time to hand address her letter, and she feels pleased and complimented.

Clearly this is a special communication to Jane. Calling hello to her husband as he walks in the door, she stops walking and OPENS YOUR LETTER.


Moral of the story:

1. Use a bright colored envelope.

2. Use a real stamp.

3. Have someone personally write their name above the return address on the front or back of the envelope.

4. Hand-address the envelope.

You can take it a step further and have something specially printed on the outside of the envelope. That also can encourage someone to open your appeal.

Try these and you’ll be surprised with more attention from your donors and more responses with donations.