I really like fries. And I really, really like ketchup on my fries. That’s not to say I wouldn’t eat the fry if there were suddenly a shortage of ketchup. But I wouldn’t eat as many fries…ya know?

The ketchup boosts my response to a hot plate of fries. And in the world of DM, the lift note is the ketchup to your otherwise (kinda bland) fundraising potatoes.

You still with me? If not, it’s time to “ketchup!”

Ok, that one was bad. But you know what else is bad? A lift note that doesn’t add anything but costs to your direct mail package.

The lift note – also known as a simple insert – is multi-functional, and comes in a variety of sizes, shapes and colours. And when used correctly, it should enhance your overall DM package and drive home the message within it.

There are many categories of lift notes – but here are some of the more popular (and effective!) types:


Like your Uncle Ted at Christmas, this insert is full of stats, numbers and facts about your cause. This is a great way to give donors the information they need to make sense of the emotional impulse they’re feeling – especially if your story pulls really hard on the heartstrings.


The most common example is a “before & after” comparison-type lift note. It can be laid out in an easy-to-read chart or graph. This is an easy, efficient way to give donors a quick snapshot of what they’ve helped your cause accomplish.


This is the shameless name-dropping insert. Here you’ll get a quote, testimonial or short story from someone well-known within your charity’s universe, (who might not have been a good fit as a signatory) to back up your case for support.


A cousin of the celebrity lift note – more often a donor, who can tell other donors how great it is to be a donor and why they too, should donate.


Not to be confused with a premium, this insert provides something cute for your donor that reinforces your organization’s message in a fun way – like a sticker or card, or an invitation to participate in an online campaign with catchy hashtags.

Whatever type you choose, the lift note should be markedly different than the rest of your package components. Use a different size, stock or colour so it stands out. This is an opportunity to get a little creative and experiment beyond your typical “letter-coupon-BRE-repeat” method.

There are countless types of lift notes, just as there are countless brands of ketchup. What’s important is that you don’t produce a generic, discount-brand lift note that ruins a perfectly good plate of fried fundraising potatoes.