The case of the irrelevant fundraising envelope that really works

Here’s an interesting outer envelope for a direct-mail acquisition piece mailed by Doctors Without Borders:

DWBOEfront

Does that strike you as odd that it leads with the idea of the donors’ emotional state? Doctors Without Borders’ mission is not to help people deal with our anxiety about the way the world is.

Off point?

I’m pretty confident this is a control, meaning it’s working.

So what’s going on?

They’re addressing one of the real reasons people give. Yes, they want to solve a problem and help other people. But they also give for internal reasons. Like giving fulfills their religious obligations. Or giving helps make the world safer, cleaner, kinder — better in ways they care about.

Giving improves one’s sense of control.

In times of heightened tension and uncertainty, this rises in importance for many people. We’d all rather feel like rescuers than like victims. Giving helps with that. And experienced donors know it.

Doctors Without Borders is outward focused. They help people in dire need. They’re looking for donors who are also outward focused and care about other people, often people far away.

But they’ve discovered that every outward focused donor also has an inner life and inner needs. And connecting those two things can move them to action.

This might work for you.

One other thing about this envelope that you can’t see from this scan: It’s fat. About a quarter of an inch (6mm) thick. That’s likely another reason it works. It’s different from other envelopes.

It’s that way because it contains a tote bag. An actual tote bag (along with the usual direct mail fundraising ingredients.

Tomorrow, we’ll look at the other side of this envelope and what we can learn from it — including the tote bag.


Comments

2 responses to “The case of the irrelevant fundraising envelope that really works”

  1. 11/8/22 regarding DWB, you said: “Tomorrow, we’ll look at the other side of this envelope and what we can learn from it — including the tote bag.”
    But I don’t see part II – would love to read it.
    I’m grateful for all your informative posts!

  2. 11/8/22 regarding DWB, you said: “Tomorrow, we’ll look at the other side of this envelope and what we can learn from it — including the tote bag.”
    But I don’t see part II – would love to read it.
    I’m grateful for all your informative 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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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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