Should you include a return envelope in your fundraising newsletter?

I recently had a great question from one of my students.

She said

“I find it very difficult to include a return envelope with my newsletter.”

I think your question was “Should I put an envelope in my newsletter?”

To ask or not to ask: that is the question, isn’t it?
There are really two things going on here: 1. Whether or not to ask 2. How you feel about it.

This is the truth about fundraising and newsletters: When you send out a well-done, donor-focused newsletter, and your newsletter is part of a full year of asking and thanking, there’s nothing wrong with putting an envelope in a newsletter.

It’s called a soft question. It’s soft because you’re not drawing attention to your request for money.

If people read something in your fundraising newsletter that moves them, you’ve made it easy for them to respond.

Unfortunately, most nonprofit newsletters are garbage.

I’m sorry but it’s true.

They are focused on the organization, they are full of useless information and there is nothing in them that connects the reader with the good work that the organization is doing.

My theory is that you have too much to do in one day. The newsletter falls to the bottom of the priority list until it becomes a hot topic, then you put something together so you can get it out the door and check it off your list.
I know because that was the way I once did newsletters. And I’ve seen many of my clients do it that way too.

You have to realize that a newsletter serves some very important purposes:

  • It gives you a way to keep in touch with your donors.. In other words, out of sight, out of mind. His newsletter is a good reminder that she is still here and still doing a good job.
  • It gives you a way to emotionally connect with your donors and remind them that you care about your mission. Your work is not as important to your donors as it is to you. You have to get in front of them regularly with stories that move them. When you touch their heartstrings, they will remember that you care and want to help.
  • It gives you a way to educate your donors about your cause. Your donors don’t know the ins and outs of your mission like you do. And you have to give it in small doses. When you flood them with information, it is overwhelming and they will tune out.

How often can a newsletter be sent?

It depends. It depends on how you send it and what else you send. I think you can send out a print newsletter quarterly. You can send a shorter monthly email newsletter.

The most important thing is that the newsletter contains information of interest to the donor. Get it right and you can send a newsletter as often as you like.

the actual problem
The real issue behind my student’s question was how it felt to ask. Many people feel uncomfortable asking for money, especially when they think they do it too often.

No one wants to wear down their welcome, particularly with a donor.

No one wants to become the nonprofit that donors are afraid to hear about.

Again, remember that if your donors donate, that means they care about your work. Think of them as partners in your work. Your partner needs to be in the know, right? They need to stay informed so they know when to step up and provide more support.

Asking is not about you. It’s about giving her donor the opportunity to support her work.

So don’t worry about putting an envelope in your newsletter. As long as you’re providing your donor with meaningful and interesting information, and you’re doing a lot of relationship-building outside of your newsletter, you’re all good.

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