If you're using one of these pre-paid envelopes to send a donation to a non-profit... don't put a stamp on it! What you want to happen probably isn't actually happening and that's no fault of the non-profit.
These BREs (Business Reply Envelopes) are an amazing tool for fundraisers to use, because all you (the donor) have to do is put in a check, seal it and drop it in the mail. The non-profit only has to pay postage if you drop it in the mail, which is great because your donor doesn't have to worry about finding a stamp and the non-profit doesn't have to spend a lot on unnecessary postage.
Once you drop it in the mail, the non-profit pays the postage AND a $.65 fee for each one returned (so $1.2 right now). I know this sounds like A LOT of money, but it's totally worth it, I promise (the easier you make it to donate, the more people will do it).
As someone donating to an organization you love, putting a stamp on the envelope (so you pay the postage) makes sense, but unfortunately, that non-profit STILL pays the $1.2, regardless if you put a stamp on or not! Once the shorting machines see the barcodes on the envelope, they stop looking for a stamp even if there is one there.
It is possible for an organization to save all those envelopes with stamps, fill out a form with the USPS for a refund, take the envelopes and the form to the post office and get a partial refund, but most organizations don't do that, so when you put a stamp on the letter, you're actually paying the postage twice and not saving the organization any money.
Why don't organizations do this? It doesn't make sense to for most, here's why.
So, say an organization gets 100 envelopes returned with stamps. Not only do they have to waste quite a bit of staff time sorting out those envelopes, filling out a dumb form AND going to the post office. But, to top it all off, after USPS takes their $35 minimum fee for the returns, the organization gets back a whopping... $20! AND they're still out the $65 in fees for processing that mail AND the staff time. Not worth it.
This might not be true for the mega-organizations who get thousands of envelopes returned with stamps on them, but that isn't most organizations.
So, long story short, putting a stamp on these envelopes isn't worth your time or money. The best way to help the non-profit would be to A) give online B) use the BRE and throw in an extra dollar C) use your own envelope + stamp.
P.S. And if you get junk mail with these envelopes, ALWAYS drop them in the mail empty! The people sending you junk have to pay the USPS, even if there's nothing in it.
If you know me, you know I'm a big fan of monthly donations. Such a big fan that if I could get every donor to donate monthly instead of once, I'd totally do it!
Why the love:
Your payment provider probably offers you *many* different options for recurring donation frequency and it's tempting... but don't enable anything other than monthly! Here are the common options I've seen with some reasoning why you shouldn't do it:
Don't forget I'm available for hire! Let's chat and build a monthly giving program at your organization!
Did this post help you raise more money? I'd love it if you bought me a beer!
Trust me, I get it. You needed a way to take online donations and were already familiar with PayPal, so that's what you choose for your organization. It's easy enough to use... right?
Unfortunately, it's time for you to move your organization away from PayPal.
It's full of friction!
Friction is anything standing between your donor and making an online gift and using PayPal is full of friction.
You're asking your donor to leave your website and go somewhere else (bad)!
Your donor must have a PayPal account to setup a monthly donation (bad)!
If they don't have a PayPal account already, they probably won't make a PayPal account just to become a monthly donor (bad)!
The donor has to remember to click the "Share your mailing address with [[organization name]] so they can acknowledge your donation". If they don't, you don't get your donor's data, which is BAD! Without their info, how can you invite them to come to an event, or invite them to donate again?
But what should I use?
Good question with a simple answer! I recommend you move to taking donations directly on your website, like I setup here. Some perks:
The donor stays on your website (good)!
You control what data you collect (good)! People HATE filling out long donation forms (friction!), so be sure to make your form as short as possible.
You keep all donor data automatically (good)!
No need to create an account (good)! Simply fill in your contact & card info and the donor is DONE!
Are you ready to switch from PayPal? Reach out and let's begin setting you up!
Did this post help you raise more money? I'd love it if you bought me a beer!
A very specific part of my brain short circuits every time I see a bad digital/electronic signature. You know, the ones that are blurry, or look like they've been copied 50 times, or the ones that have a block of light grey (not white!) surrounding them... you know what I'm talking about.
I dislike bad digital signatures that I want to make yours better for free. E-mail me whatever digital signature you use. I'll send you back a gorgeous version in both blue and black for you to use. It'll be a .emf file, which you maybe haven't used before, but can be used in Word, is vector based (make it as big as you want!) and will have a transparent background so that when it overlaps other text, it looks like an actual signature.
E-mail me your file and I'll get back to you with your much better signature.
Did this post help you? I'd love it if you bought me a beer!
I don't see organizations doing this as much as they used to, but this reminded me of a big "don't do this" for organizations.
The "Give us $5 instead of getting that cup of coffee in the morning!" is ineffective because people want their coffee (or whatever you're telling people not to get), let them have it! Also, trying to guilt donors into feeling bad for spending $X on something they like is *not* a way to make people feel good about your or your mission. Also also, you know what people hate more than anything? Being told what to do with their money!
Instead, try something like "Your monthly donation of $5 provides an Arkansan with _________ each month... WOW! Thank you!" It's donor-centric and isn't telling people what to do, but instead you're telling folks what cool things will happen if they donate.
Don't forget I'm available for hire if you want access to all the little Development nuggets rattling around inside my head.
Non-profits of all sizes, you need to be THANKING your donors for their gifts.
Not just the obviously automated e-mail that your donation platform sends out, but an actual paper in the snail mail meaningful thank you letter. Here's the clear message you're sending when you don't thank your donors... "Your gift was so insignificant to us that we can't even be bothered to meaningfully acknowledge it, but we did cash the check."
Yep, it'll cost you a little bit of money and a little bit of time, but, you need to be doing it. That's just the cost of doing business.
This is actually an area where smaller orgs. have a huge advantage over large non-profits. These larger non-profits are often slow moving machines and can't get thank you letters out the door quick enough for them to be meaningful. Smaller non-profits are able to move quickly and 'thank before you bank', which makes your donor feel like you really care!
Thank you for coming to my free class, don't forget I'm available for hire.
Remember when (in the before times) we got mad at non-profits who wanted to try and save some money for a rainy day fund?
Remember when we got mad because "donations weren't being used to serve the community!"?
Well, here we are, in the middle of a global pandemic and non-profits (just like everyone else) are suffering. Many are closing (not able to serve the community) because we all got mad when they wanted to save some money.
Once we get on the other side of this pandemic, organizations will (hopefully) be saving some money. Don't get mad. Reframe how you look at these savings. No, those savings aren't helping the community in that very moment. But they will be invaluable once we hit another catastrophe.
This has come up several times lately in conversation and since I've been responsible for 150k+ pieces of mail in my career... I'm qualified to talk on this!
I know that it might seem that mailing you physical fundraising letters is a waste of paper and postage... but when done well, direct mail raises *a lot* of money. If someone tells you otherwise, they probably aren't writing effective fundraising appeals!
Yes, sending direct mail does cost more than sending e-mail fundraising messages... but e-mail doesn't really work. You know those 10k e-mails you have waiting to be read in your inbox? Yea, we all have that same problem and that's where digital fundraising appeals end up! Unread and ignored.
On the flip side, I can spend $3k to send 5.5k letters and raise $50k. It's hard to find another situation where a $3k investment returns you $50k. Again, that's only for effective appeals. But anyway, I know that from the outside it might seem like we're wasting money, but please know, this direct mail is super effective and an incredible way to fund the important work happening in our community.
I love direct mail more than most people, because it's fun to craft and works really well. If your curious about talking more about putting together some direct mail for your org., reach out!