If so, now you know why direct mail is important in fundraising, and how to write the parts of an appeal letter.
Today we’re going to talk about how to SEND your appeal letter.
Your Mailing List
If you are using Microsoft Word, add text to auto-complete the letter from your database. If you don’t have a database, don’t worry. Just put your donors into a spreadsheet, and name each column “FirstName” “LastName” “Address” “City” and so on. For added personalization, put in the amount and date of their recent donation. The top of your letter should look like this:
Go to the Tools menu, and click on “Mail Merge Wizard” which will guide you through the mail merge process. Once you’ve merged all of the letters, click SAVE on the new file you’ve created, and make a folder for these letters. Also make a folder for the list you used for this mailing. Now make sure there’s letterhead in the printer, and print your letters and envelopes.
How to Send Your Letter
What else do you put in your envelope? You can put in stickers, buttons or photos, but whatever you do, remember to put in a Remit Envelope.
This is the envelope donors use to contribute to your organization. It can be an envelope with your nonprofit’s name and address printed on it, or it can be more elaborate. Look at some examples from other nonprofits if you want inspiration. For instance, the inner flap of the envelope can have check boxes for mailings donors can receive, the lower outer side of the envelope can have checkboxes for the amount of their gift, a secure place to put credit card information, and their name and address and phone. This is often more effective than a simple envelope, because even if the person doesn’t have their checkbook in front of them, they can give to your cause with their credit card, and even if they don’t have that, they can mail the envelope back to you with their address, saying they’d like your newsletter or to volunteer for your cause.
It’s expensive to use a mailhouse, but it may be worth it for you if your list is large enough. Ask your boss how this mailing fits into the annual mailing budget. If there is no budget, then now is a good time to make one. And if you don’t have a budget, you’ll probably need to do all of these steps yourself or coordinate volunteers to help you.
Stuffing and Sorting
Now you’ve got your letters, envelopes, and remit envelopes, it’s time to sit and stuff the envelopes. If you don’t have staff who can lend a hand, or a few good volunteers, you can check around your city to see if there is a “Ready to Work” program which helps people build up a solid work history by doing jobs for nonprofits. In Portland, Oregon, this program is called “Steps to Success.” Mailings are boons to this group. Why not help the people who stuff your envelopes, as well as fulfill your mission? Make sure whoever ends up stuffing your envelopes puts the envelopes in zip code order. Just use the first three numbers of the zip code, that’s all that matters.
Personally bring your letters to the post office. Do it anytime but NOT on a Friday, and NOT at 5 o’clock. Get a roll of nonprofit stamps from the post office, and while you’re there, make sure your nonprofit has a nonprofit mailing account at the post office. This will allow you to take advantage of the post office’s spectacular bulk mail rate for nonprofits. It’s going up all the time but it’s always much much better than the first class price for a letter.
Put stamps on the letters, and weigh the letters. This will tell the post office how many you have in each 3 digit zip code. 97222, for example, will go under 972. If you have over 200 letters in a three digit zipcode, you are eligible for a discount.
Get mailing trays from the post office for these letters . There is a front to this tray, so put the letters in, top up, facing the front. And get a little label containing the three-digit code to put on the front of the trays . Put the cardboard sleeve on the tray, put strapping around the tray, and your assembly is done!
Now fill out the post office form, stating how many letters you’re mailing, and how much it will cost. There will be a friendly post office employee to explain this to you. Make sure you’ve got the nonprofit credit card number to pay, and now you’re done!