Direct mail and the seemingly innocent outer envelope. Who knew the combination of the two could elicit such conversation and discussion!

“What should we have on the outer envelope?”  

“We need a teaser that will ‘grab’ our donors.”

“A teaser alone won’t work: we need to add a great photo that connects to the tagline.”

“Donors don’t respond to two colour print jobs – we need to print in full colour”

“My Board hates white envelopes. Our next appeal must include a bright coloured envelope to make them happy.”

Sound familiar?

It should!

At Good Works, it’s a conversation we frequently have with our clients. It’s also a hot topic around the office as we discuss trends – past and present.

Habits can change over the years.

And that holds true for how well you know – or think you know – your supporters.

Your donor base will always include your most loyal supporters – the ones you most likely know by first name!  Realistically, with donor attrition and new folks being brought on through acquisition, your program is in a constant state of flux and evolution.  The learning cycle is continuous. Don’t rely on stats that may be dated, or on historical information within your organization that’s not quite complete – or that’s been misinterpreted.

And remember the old mantra: When in doubt, test!

Even better, if you have the opportunity to conduct the same test for your House and Prospect audience at the same time, do it! Not only are there cost savings to be had, you’ll end up with double the intelligence.

So, what works?

I took a look at three different organizations – all different in respect to type of non-profit, location, and catchment area.

Each of these organizations sent out an appeal to their House donors using a Control envelope (with teaser and photo) versus a Test envelope (teaser only or plain). In each case, the org’s logo was visible on the outer envelope and the inside components were identical.

The results?  Surprising!

In all cases, the response rate and the average gift were almost identical. Little difference.

What does this tell us?

It suggests that your donors respond will to a good mix of package types and messages.  In other words, keep offering your donors a variety of envelope types and design.  If the offer – or the letter – resonates with them, if they feel they are being ‘loved’ by you (meaning you are properly stewarding them), they will respond!