Ask The Nth Factor … About Newsletters

I received an interesting question yesterday about reply envelopes – interesting, because it was really a question about something entirely different: newsletters. Here it is:

“Our office has been debating this for a couple days and we were wondering if you wouldn’t mind sharing your point of view.”newsletter-reply

The email then directed me to a reply coupon that this organization had noticed in another organization’s newsletter. To give you a visual, it was something along these lines, –>                      although it included membership levels and benefits and was, admittedly, way more attractively designed than this example that I created for this post. Here was the question:

“Half of our staff thinks this is a great, eye-catching addition that may motivate people to give without the hassle of sending a remittance envelope. The other half think that eliminating the return envelope (as a way to save money), would limit the responses we get because it will become a hassle for potential donors. What are your thoughts?”

It was a great question – but my thought as I reread the email was there’s a better question in disguise here. And that is: is my newsletter a fundraising vehicle? You see, whether it’s better to include a reply envelope or not in your newsletter hinges on an assumption that your newsletter is for fundraising.

Is it?

Here’s what I emailed back to the organization:

  1. You always want to include a remittance envelope in any direct mail solicitation.
  2. But a newsletter isn’t a solicitation. Newsletters are cultivation devices, not fundraising devices, so I wouldn’t look at this reply form and whether or not the newsletter contains a reply envelope the same way.
  3. Even though a newsletter’s primary purpose is cultivation, it should still include a reply device and can be expected to generate a bit of revenue. I emphasize “a bit” because …
  4. If you actually raise a lot of money from the reply device/envelope in your newsletter, then that is a good sign that you are under soliciting your donors. Think about it: if your supporters are sending in a lot of money when you don’t ask (because a reply form in a newsletter is only a passive ask), imagine what they’ll do when you do ask!
  5. In hard copy newsletters, most organizations still do include an actual envelope and that’s what I’d lean toward. That might be something worth testing though.

So thanks for a great question, Jackie! Have any questions of your own? Email topics@nthfactor.com and we’ll do our best to answer them in our Ask The Nth Factor series. If you’re interested in tips for making your newsletter more effective by the way, here’s an article you might find helpful from our website.


Comments on Ask The Nth Factor … About Newsletters

  1. Miriam says:

    Whenever I, as a donor, get a newsletter from an organization I have donated to multiple times I am upset that they have wasted money on the extra postage to send me anything except a reply envelope to send my monthly check. In addition, I frequently get the same thing from a few donors twice a month.

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