You’ve seen it, I’m sure.
A little bit of copy on the outside of the envelope. Its job? Get you to open the envelope and read the letter inside.
It seems to be almost standard for fundraising appeals these days. But it shouldn’t be.
Teasers can be very effective – if they’re good. Otherwise, you risk turning off the reader, making the package look as mass-produced as it is… and sending your letter to the recycling bin.
If you’re not sure your teaser copy is great, you’re probably better off going with a plain envelope with a real stamp. (You can get nonprofit rate stamps – more personal looking than a meter or indicia.)
But more often than not, the mail that makes its way to my house carries some sort of teaser. Most of the real clunkers I see don’t even make it into the house. (The recycling bin is in the garage.) Others I keep as a warning, or for a laugh.
Thanks to some recent pieces I’ve received, here’s a clue:
Your donors don’t care about your annual fund. Or your annual fund goals. Or your budget.
So why waste opportunities by focusing on boring inside stuff?
Donors are moved by the chance to help. The chance to change the world, make it a better place in some way. They give from their hearts and it’s their hearts you need to reach. Your organization is the vehicle, not the journey’s end. You’re there to put their dreams of a better world into action.
And if your envelope doesn’t focus on donors’ dreams or fears, if it’s not compelling, or mysterious or urgent… you’re done. Every penny, every hour you’ve spent on that piece goes right into the bin.
What do you think?
Let’s play a little game. Which one of these envelopes do you think will persuade me, the donor, to open it?
See the ones on the right? All about the organization, not about the potential donor. I’m not interested in your annual fund. I don’t think of myself as your donor.
I want to know where I come in. (Envelope D gets extra points off because it was addressed to “Mr. and Mrs.”. I have never been a Mrs. and I bristle when people want to remove my name and give me my husband’s. It’s foolish to make assumptions because it makes your database easier to manage.)
Listen. We do good work. All of these organizations do. And we do need support. But we won’t get enough support if we don’t get out of our own internal mindsets and think like donors.
Avoid the inside baseball stuff like your annual fund calendar or goals. That’s what you do within your organization. It’s like asking me to be alarmed because you’ve been using too many paper clips. Not my problem.
Instead, inspire me. Worry me. Tease me with a story I have to keep reading. Make me feel needed.
To tease or not to tease
So, use a teaser? Sure, if you’ve got something great – something that will intrigue me enough to get me to open that envelope. (That’s the envelope’s whole job, right?) Make it good, and it can get you over that first, most important hurdle. The examples on the left do that. They look personal. There’s a story I’ll want to hear. There’s an urgent need I have to respond to.
But is it boring or all about your inside systems? Skip it.