From the most seasoned marketing professionals to novices in the field . . . everyone asks a lot of the same questions. Here are FAQs—and their answers:
Q: What is the most important element of a successful appeal?
A: People give from the heart—not from the brain . . . be passionate and tell a good story.
Copy and images should be compelling, persuasive and most important—authentic.
ADS INSIGHT: Use short paragraphs and left justification to make letters easier to read.
Q: How can we promote Planned Giving—we do not have budget for separate appeals?
A: Include planned giving buckslips in appeals—they will not suppress response rates or cannibalize renewals, and always include a message to Remember <your org’s name> in your will.
Q: Do I need to include a printed notice of the states in which my organization is registered?
A: Not all states require this but many do. Consult with your legal counsel or accountant. If neither have this expertise, hire a firm that offers this specialty.
ADS INSIGHT: Do not try to apply for or understand the registrations yourself—the process is very time consuming and complicated.
Q: What are some of the most important changes in postal regulations that should concern us?
1. Postage for 2 oz. 1st class PRESORT letters is now the same postage as 1oz.—you are getting the second ounce free—but it MUST BE PRESORTED.
2. For new selfmailer regulations CLICK HERE
3. Avoid square and profile envelopes—they are mailable but postage is higher than rectangular envelopes of the same weight.
Q: Do we get an automatic credit in our BRM (Business Reply Mail) account when donors place stamps on our BREs?
A: No! A BRM permit holder must request a credit or refund for postage affixed to returned BRM pieces. To receive a refund, the permit holder must submit a completed Form 3533 to the postmaster, documenting the excess postage payment for which a credit or refund is desired. MORE INFO
Follow this link for other charges and restrictions, and scroll down to 2.12 Business Reply Mail:
Q: Why is the zip code on my BRM not the same as the zip code of my office?
A: The different zip code—which drives the barcode—directs the BRM to the post office where your permit exists so funds can be deducted against mail received. Then it gets delivered to your office.
ADS INSIGHT: Make sure your BRM account is funded—especially before you drop your appeals. If it is not, the USPS can hold your mail until more funds are added to your account, and they are not obligated to inform you they are holding it.
Q: What is an important but little-known design tip?
A: Design selfmailers so printing in areas covered by wafer seals contain no important information, and design remit envelopes so printing in areas that will be covered by the glue on the flap contains no important information.
Q: We do not have access to a professional proofreader, but do not want mistakes in our letter. What can we do?
A: Here are a few helpful practices:
a) Don’t proof on the screen—print the document for proofing.
b) Read it slowly and out loud (go into a private room and close the door so you are not bothering your colleagues.)
c) When you are finished—just before you are ready to send the artwork to prepress—ask a colleague who has never seen the document and who is known for great attention to detail, to read the letter. Make sure he/she follows a) and b) above.
Q: Should we coordinate our postal appeals with our digital presence?
A: Absolutely! Post your appeal on your website as soon as you drop your mail and keep track of online donations for 45-60 days after the appeal drops. Attribute these donations to direct mail.
ADS INSIGHT: Websites are often used as a payment channel and you will almost always see a bump in online donations after a mailing drops. Use a separate URL to differentiate these from other online gifts. This will enable you to attribute these donations to your direct mail appeal.
Here are a few bonus tips . . . common mistakes that we see a lot:
- #9 reply envelopes do not fit into 6×9” outer envelopes. Order a smaller reply envelope or you will need to FOLD the #9s.
- Make sure your response device fits into the reply envelope and all contents fit in outer envelope.
- Make sure envelope flaps are machinable if you plan to use inserting equipment.
- Include remit envelopes in your acknowledgement letters—they are great for donors to have on-hand when they want to make a tribute donation.