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I am utterly swamped with tax appeal work currently but when the mail came in today, I took a quick look to see if anything stood out.

The image above shows the pile of envelopes I received today… and at the bottom are the envelopes that caught my eye. Those are the ones I immediately opened.

The one on the left is handwritten… and inside the envelope was a handwritten letter. Yes, it was definitely handwritten – a whole page long, and covered with writing from the left to right (almost no margins) like a proper old-fashioned letter. You can see it here. Notice it has no fancy colours, headers or images. (There are other good things about this letter but I won’t go into those now since this is about envelopes.)

The one on the right is plum purple and a larger size than DLX (the go to size for most fundraising direct mail). Inside was an invitation to an “insiders” event, which we will go to.

Neither envelope included an ask for money. These were both donor nurture pieces of communication. And they drew my attention more than the stack of other envelopes that have appeal asks (two were donor surveys that probably had asks).

So if you want to make your fundraising appeal asks stand out in the mailbox… then make the envelope stand out. Because any direct mail fundraiser worth their salt knows that GETTING THE ENVELOPE OPENED is half the battle.

Here are some ideas for envelopes that we know work for boosting the open rate:

  • Coloured envelopes
  • Unusual size envelopes
  • Chunky envelopes – yes, you stick in something bulky
  • Handwritten envelopes


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