My first fundraising job was at Hope Gospel Mission (HGM), a homeless shelter in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. At the time, HGM was just four years old with a tiny little budget. As the development director, one of my responsibilities was to oversee the direct mail program, which I knew virtually nothing about. One day, I asked my print vendor for a tour of their print shop. I have an insatiable curiosity and wanted to see where and how our orders were printed. During our tour, I watched a press operator change a “plate” to print content on the back side of a document they were working on. It didn’t take but a minute and the press was going again.
I asked my salesperson about it and he shared a secret of printing. The bulk of the cost of printing is in the setup of the press and the press time. He shared with me that because the press was already set up for our order, we could print grayscale on the back for just 12% more. This was a steal for the opportunity to double the real estate of my appeal.
Over the years, I have learned how helpful the back of an appeal can be. While it is not likely a space that will get donors to give more money, it is a space that can help them feel better about making a gift. Use the front of your letter for the emotional aspects and the ask. On the back side, print supporting information that appeals to the logical side of your donors like statistics, program descriptions, and supporting quotes. You can also use the back as a space to share your donor policies and practices such as adherence to the Donor Bill of Rights.
Printing on the back side may not seem like a profound insight, but I am surprised at how many nonprofits don’t print on the back side of their appeals. I suspect many do not know the cost difference is so minimal. Incidentally, the same is true for going from 2-color to 4-color printing when done on a traditional color press.
Please join me for a free webinar where I will share the most important direct mail tip of all and a few others to help you raise more from your appeal letters.
Could you raise more money from your appeal letter?