This super-messy envelope looks like a direct mail winner

It’s common for direct mail fundraising to over-design the outer envelope, hoping to “stand out” and thus get opened by more recipients — leading to more response.

In testing, plainer envelopes do better most of the time.

But not always. Check out this outer envelope:

DCCC OE front

There’s a lot going on here. Look at the back of the same envelope.

DCCC OE back

I don’t know how successful this envelope was, but it looks like a winner to me. Here’s why:

  1. It features a match. That is one situation that is usually worth trumpeting on an outer envelope. It’s usually a bad move to have an envelope that clearly states there’s an appeal for money inside. Except when there’s a match.
  2. It’s busy, but not “fancy.” Only two colors. Clunky fonts. No photos.
  3. It’s weird. All those fake “barcode” things. They seem like they mean something. But what they really do is inspire curiosity.

Note that it’s political fundraising, which is somewhat different world from nonprofit fundraising, but it’s smart. You can steal these ideas!


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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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