Fundraising Letter Envelopes: How To Make Them Irresistible

The best way to increase the response rate of your fundraising letters is by making your fundraising letter envelopes simply irresistible so that they get read. And how do you do that? By creating a vivid picture in your readers minds that makes them eager to tear open the envelope and find out more.

In this guest article, master copywriter Alan Sharpe describes how to make your fundraising letter envelopes irresistible by using one of 13 different methods. Using examples from fundraising campaigns that he has crafted for non-profit organizations like Oxfam, Doctors Without borders, Habitat For Humanity, and the Hope For Children Foundation, Alan shows just how powerful that mental imagery can be in getting your appeal letters opened and read.

Here’s How To Make Your Envelopes Irresistible

Writing a terrific fundraising letter is a waste of time if your donor throws your entire package in the trash unopened. And that happens more often than any of us dare to think about. That’s why your envelope is so crucial to your success.

Your envelope serves two functions and two alone:

  1. Deliver your appeal to your donor
  2. Persuade your donor to open and read your letter

Readers spend only a few seconds deciding the fate of your direct mail fundraising appeals. Either they open them on the spot, set them aside for later, or chuck them in the waste paper basket.

Here are some examples of creative ways to tease your donors into opening your envelopes.

Hint at the contents
A #10 envelope from Covenant House is covered in retro 1960s flowers, with the headline, “A Special Gift for you inside . . .”

Demonstrate exclusivity
A 6 x 9 envelope for Nature Conservancy shows wetlands, forests and coastlines and bears this teaser headline: “Your exclusive briefing on Canada’s most ambitious campaign for conservation.”

Ask a question
A #10 envelope for Habitat for Humanity features a photo of a tape measure and the question beneath: “How do you measure hope?”

Arouse curiosity
Doctors Without Borders features a photo of a hand holding the special bracelet that doctors and nurses use overseas to asses children for malnutrition.

The headline reads: “See inside for a very useful little bracelet. Try it on!”

Create urgency
The Salvation Army features on its #10 outer envelope a “to-do” list featuring the days of the month from December 17 counting down to December 25, which is circled. The headline, written by hand, says: “Urgent: Christmas Countdown! Please help us get ready!”

Capitalize on current events
Doctors Without Borders uses a broad red stripe across its envelope with this headline reversed out in white type: “7.5 million Afghans in humanitarian crisis.” Stamped across the envelope in a stencil font is this subhead: “Was and Winter in Afghanistan.”

Use both sides of the envelope
A mailing for the World Wildlife Fund features on the front a tiger asleep on a log that stretches from one side of the envelope to the other. On the reverse side of the envelope, a square window reveals some teaser copy and a premium inside.

Involve the donor
Doctors Without Borders fundraising letter envelope shows an immunization card and this teaser: “As a child, you conquered this deadly disease . .

.”Use an invitation
Hope for Children Foundation intrigues donors with this headline: “Your invitation to turn a life around by one degree.”

Promise a benefit
InTouch Ministries features a 6 x 9 envelope bearing a photo of a hand holding a remote control pointed at a television. On the television is Dr. Charles Stanley, television preacher and founder of InTouch. The teaser copy beneath the remote control says: “Why you need to grab this on May 1st.”

Announce news
Trans World Radio intrigues donors with a photo of a man from Central Asia and this headline: “Exciting News Inside: New TWR broadcast signal going out! Millions in troubled region to hear the Gospel!”

Add human interest
Hope for Children Foundation features a photo of a smiling mother holding her smiling daughter. The headline reads: “This Christmas, celebrate the impossible.”

Hint at success
A letter from Oxfam shows a girl standing at a blackboard.

The headline says, “Pascaline will change her world..

Read more fundraising letter tips from Alan Sharpe at

More Advice On Fundraising Letters

How to Write Fundraising Letters That Motivate Donors – Motivating strangers to give their money away is one of the hardest jobs around. It’s difficult to do face to face. And it’s even harder to do by mail.

Successful Fundraising Letters Share Eight Qualities – If you want your next fundraising letter to be successful and effective, there are certain nuances you must master to achieve the right results.

Don’t Start Your Fundraising Letters As A Stranger – One of the things you should never do with your fundraising letters is address them to Dear Friend because it can cost you literally thousands of dollars in lost donations.

Write Fundraising Letters That Donors Can’t Resist – Master copywriter Alan Sharpe offers practical advice to non-profit groups for boosting the results of your appeal letters.

How To Write A Fundraising Letter – Advice and tips on what works and what doesn’t in donation request letters.

How To Write Fundraising Letters – Here are detailed instructions on how to write great fundraising letters, including a sample letter to get you started.

Fundraising Letter Sample Template – This sample fundraising letter template offers examples of a specific method of asking for money, including providing a quick psychological justification for a positive response.

Sample Fundraising Thank You Letter – Here are some tips on how to say thanks to your donors, plus a sample fundraising thank you letter you can copy.

Where To Find Creative Ideas For Your Appeal Letters – Creativity is key for keeping your fundraising letters fresh and bringing in sufficient donations. So, where do you find creative ideas for your appeals? The answer, surprisingly, is right under your nose.