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3 Donation Envelope Design Tips

When it comes to mailing out your fundraising appeal letters and pledge cards, the envelope you send it in can matter just as much as the design of your correspondence.

Why? Your envelope is the last step of your direct mailing process, but the first impression to your recipients. And as they say, you never get a second chance at a first impression, so it is important to give your envelope some thought as you pull together the entirety of your donor communications.

We’ve provided our top three tips on how to maximize the opportunity associated with your nonprofit envelope design.

Tip 1: Be creative about your donation envelope

Sure, envelopes are used to mail things like utility bills and holiday cards, where the bulk of what’s needed is a To Address, From Address and stamp. But those parameters can be expanded upon when you’re mailing fundraising communications from your organization. Here some ideas to get your started:

  • Consider using the flap side of the envelope, usually completely blank, as an area to design out (see Tip 3 for more details)
  • Choose a stamp that’s colorful or even custom to your nonprofit
  • Use your nonprofit’s color as the font color—or choose something other than black to stand out
  • Use a wax seal or foil sticker to enclose your envelope

Just remember to think of your envelope as valuable real estate to utilize in the design process. As you think through your design, imagine how you can create a donation envelope template you can use again and again.

Tip 2: Make your envelope “stand out”

Aside from all the ways to jazz up the outside of your fundraising envelope, don’t forget to give some thought to the physical envelope itself. For instance:

  • Size: there are many options when it comes to the size of your envelope. In “envelope language” this could mean something like a “#10 or #9 envelope” or it can just be as simple as saying the dimensions—6 x 9 inches, for example. Just because letters are commonly sent in one size or another, doesn’t mean you’re stuck with that. Try a size that’s larger—or even smaller—than what routinely arrives in the mail to stand out from other nonprofits.
  • Shape: similar to the size notes above, there are different shapes available to mail your fundraising appeal materials in. These can be square, rectangular, and other. Just be sure to check with your local postmaster if you have any questions or concerns regarding your unique envelope choice.
  • Material: the options for paper type differ more than you probably think. There is paper that feels silky smooth, and paper that feels like velvet. There’s paper that’s thick, thin, see-through, shiny, matte, and more. Consult a professional printer if you’d like to see the full range in envelope texture options. Remember, you want it to stand out.
  • Color: and of course, you don’t have to stick with a white or off-white envelope. Just like paper, envelopes come in a wide range of colors to help your direct mailing to pop.

One exercise to help you think more creatively about this is to gather all your mail for a week and compare it against each other. Which pieces stand out to you? If none do, then at least that gives you intel as to what you want to avoid if you want your envelope to stick out in the pile.

Tip 3: Use every bit of space

Remember that just because the envelope is thing that holds your appeal letter, doesn’t mean that you can’t utilize the envelope as additional space to print taglines (i.e. “A special message from [insert nonprofit name]!” or “Thank you for your support!”) on the carrier envelope.

If you’re having a graphic designer lay out your appeal letter, be sure to ask them their thoughts on what design elements you can add to the envelope to tie into the letter and create a cohesive piece.

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