3-dimensional lift pieces can really put the fun in fundraising

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

Liftmonday

Usually, a direct mail lift piece is a piece of paper. That’s the direct mail world.

But it doesn’t have to be.

Real things from the real world that exist in three dimensions often make great lifts. Because they not only do what paper lifts do, but they make the envelope lumpy — so it’s more different from the other envelopes around it.

And that’s important, because we know getting attention in the first place is the most challenging part of getting donations.

Here are some 3-D lifts I’ve done and seen done by others:

  • Seed packets. This is often a winner, because it not only makes the envelope lumpy, it also makes sound when shaken. (True story: we sent out wheat drains in a transparent packet; in one of our sample packs, there was a live insect in the packet with the grains. We had no idea how many donors got a bug!)
  • Coins. Usually glued to something in the pack, often showing through a window in the outer envelope. It can be used to dramatize a low-cost solution to a problem (“6¢ can save a child from blindness!”) Can also be foreign coins if that works. (You will get more than the usual complaints from donors about coins; they annoy some donors!) Related, but not 3-D: foreign currency.
  • Pen/pencil. Especially if you want the donor fill out a survey or otherwise write something.
  • Lapel pins. Something nice and symbolic that the donor is likely to be proud to wear. Hint: except for a tiny number of organizations, your logo is not the thing!
  • Water packets (plastic). Especially if it’s appropriate for your organization to send Holy Water to donors.
  • Magnets. This is sort of a hybrid lift — flat like paper, but has extra weight. And surprisingly affordable. As with the lapel pin, don’t just slap your logo on it. Ask yourself if your mother (or auntie or grandmother) would be happy to place this on her fridge. Images of flowers are nice, as are inspiring quotations or scripture.

When using 3-D lifts, there are two factors to watch out for:

  1. Cost of the lift. It’s possible to spend so much on a lift that even though it works to improve response, it erases all of its gains by what it cost. And sometimes the killer cost is what it costs to insert it in the envelope.
  2. Increased postage. If the lift adds too much weight to the DM pack, you may be stuck with steeply increased postage. Or worse, it may become unmailable. Be sure to research with your printer and your local postal authority.

As with any fundraising, your job is to spend money to make money. So if you’re writing to mid-value or major donors, you can include lifts that cost quite a lot — and there’s a good chance it will be worth every penny.

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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