How to master the fundraising lift note

Lift Monday: A series about the art and science of “Lifts” in direct mail fundraising.

Liftmonday

The “classic” lift piece in direct mail is the lift note. First pioneered in commercial direct mail, it became common in fundraising direct mail because it works. Common experience is that a lift note can improve response between 5% and 25%.

The main purpose of a lift note is to increase the reader’s connection and interest in the offer. It can do this a number of different ways:

  • An endorsement from a third party or even someone else at your organization.
  • Focus on something especially important about the offer.
  • Further “evidence” about the offer, like an eyewitness of the situation.
  • Overcoming potential objections.

Here are some of the common characteristics of fundraising lift notes:

1. It’s from someone other than the letter signer. There are a lot of possibilities:

  • It could be from someone else at your organization who is even closer to the situation than the letter signer.
  • Someone helped by the organization talking about the need for help.
  • A celebrity or expert backing up the claims of the main letter.
  • A donor on why they donate.

2. It’s shorter than the letter. Commonly just one side of one smaller piece of paper.

3. It looks different from the letter. Different stock, different (or no) letterhead. Different font (maybe even handwritten).

These are not rules. They’re not even “best practices.” They’re “good practices” that have been shown to work.

Here’s an example. It’s in a direct mail piece sent by the Connecticut Forest & Park Association. (CFPA). The appeal is about preserving forest lands, and focuses on the blue-spotted salamander, an indicator species in the forest.

The lift note is from “Sal,” a blue-spotted salamander, an indicator species for the woodland ecosystem:

CFPAliftnote

Read the other Lift Monday posts


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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About the blogger

Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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