Just as donors won’t give a gift unless they’re asked to give, the USPS will not deliver a piece of mail unless proper postage is applied to it. And although we may not have a say in how much postage costs, we do have many choices in how postage looks on our packages. In fact, creative postage treatments can provide a more personalized look and feel, inviting the donor to open the package and boosting your results!
And specialized postage treatments are not just for outgoing mail. There are creative options for return mail, too!
Using a postage meter on your mail piece can make it look more official or formal, which works particularly well for urgent grams, renewal statements, and surveys. The meter can take up a good bit of real estate in the top right corner of the outer envelope, but there are now meters that can include a message to the donor, an image that may complement your package theme, a request for address correction service or even seasonal greetings.
Here are a few examples of meters that are commonly available (check with your production team/mail shop to find out exactly what meters they available):
Testing Idea: Are you using an indicia on a package that you’d like to refresh? Test the package using a meter instead! The cost to meter the envelope is minimal, and a different look could mean an increased response.
Affixing multiple stamps to reply envelopes for high-dollar packages is a technique nearly everyone has used over the last ten years or so, but that’s not the only place they can be used! Using multiple stamps on an outer envelope can be an effective way to get the donor into the package – a package with multiple stamps and a cancellation mark stands out in the mail box, particularly as we’re seeing fewer cancellation marks on straight first-class mail.
Why does an outer envelope with multiple stamps require a cancellation mark when a reply envelope with multiple stamps doesn’t? Good question!
The cancellation mark is required for multiple stamps if they total less than the current first-class postage rate. In the example above, the stamps total 5 cents, which is how much postage has to be affixed to a mail piece that mails at nonprofit rates. The cancellation mark over the stamps informs everyone who handles the mail piece that it was mailed at nonprofit rates, and the additional postage due has already been paid. No one wants to have mail returned for lack of postage, or worse, delivered to the donor with a postage due notice.
Testing Idea: Considering mailing a giving society invitation to a special group of donors? Try mailing it with multiple stamps on the OE for a high touch look.
Stamped Business Reply Mail
One could argue that the most overlooked component in a fundraising package is the reply envelope. As long as you have the correct address, a white mail code, and the appropriate postal markings, a reply envelope is a reply envelope, right?
The reply envelope is critical to the success of the package – it’s how the gifts get back to you! And making it stand out can really benefit a campaign.
Many mailers use business reply envelopes with a handwritten note along the lines of “Your first-class stamp will help us put more money to use right away!” but what about adding stamps to the BRE before it’s inserted into the package? Here’s an example:
Five $0.01 stamps across the top really make this envelope pop, and it reminds the donor that the organization is counting on a gift. While the postage and affixing costs for this are not significant, they can become cost-prohibitive if you’re mailing a large volume. Another organization recently sent a BRE with three stamp-like images printed on the top left corner. At first glance, it looked like stamps!
The USPS will refund a mailer for postage affixed to a business reply envelope as long as they comply with certain rules and requirements, and pay a small fee, but it may be worth the time if your return volume is high.
Testing Idea: If you’re using a business reply envelope for your acquisition control, consider adding stamps to the BREs for your lapsed audience or multis – this minor tweak may lift response without breaking the bank on these low-cost names.
It feels like we’re seeing a postage increase every January, so this is a perfect time to use postage creatively to get more of your money’s worth!