Delight Your Donors With A Handwritten Note

By: Ilan Mann

June 26, 2021

When was the last time you received a personalized handwritten letter in the mail? According to recent statistics, it’s pretty rare. Based on data from the Postal Regulatory Commission, the average American receives only ten pieces of personal mail per year. We (the royal we) just don’t send mail that much anymore.

So when anyone gets a handwritten note, it is by definition extraordinary. Why not take advantage of this fact to delight your target audience? Why send an email or a generic piece of direct mail when you can send something remarkable? Let’s talk about how this can work for you.

If you are a nonprofit organization, charity or political party, a handwritten note will leave a memorable impression and help you stand out in a sea of generic ad pieces. Let’s take a quick look at why handwritten mail has such a positive impact on our clients.

Handwritten Fundraising Letters Get Read

Fundraisers know that no matter how strong a written piece is, it might as well not get sent at all if it doesn’t get open or read. Why don’t generic pieces work? Simple. Mailboxes today are filled with a steady stream of junk, bills and notices from the tax collector you’d probably like to avoid. Not exactly an occasion your donors look forward to each day. Let’s face it: most pieces end up going directly into the recycling bin.

But the numbers around handwritten notes are clear: they get read. Email marketing has an average open rate of 22%. Not bad, but when you compare that to handwritten mail – which enjoys an open rate of 99% – the advantages are clear.

And when you think about it, it makes sense. It’s hard for new donors or even major donors who give regularly to ignore an envelope with their name and address handwritten on the front.

Nonprofits and Charities Can Showcase Their Creativity

There is nothing that says donor communications needs to be boring. This is a big advantage that handwritten mail has over generic email or SMS messages. A handwritten card is the perfect creative platform to showcase your organization’s personality or that of your executive director, board member or other staff you’d like to highlight in your next fundraising piece.

Here at Postalgia, we encourage clients to get creative with every element of a handwritten piece. They can choose the type of paper or card or even select the type of handwriting and ink colour! No other form of communication is as rich in detail and personality as handwritten notes. You and your team can really put your stamp on it – figuratively and literally.

Handwritten Thank You Letters Are Powerful

One of the many reasons why handwritten notes are so powerful is that the recipient intuitively knows that putting a note in the mail takes much more effort than sending an email or text message. Because everyone at one point in their lives has taken the time to write a letter, put it in an envelope, find an address, throw on a stamp and toss it in a mailbox: they instinctively know the effort that goes into putting something in the mail.

After all, donor relations is all about creating a personal relationship between the organization and the prospective donor. Showing a donor they are worth your time and effort illustrates how important they are without saying it directly.

Combined with personalization (adding a donor’s name, fundraising campaign they donated to, the amount given, who referred them, etc), a handwritten note will make your donors feel seen and appreciated, in turn making them feel good. These personalized notes can and should be a key aspect of your donor outreach efforts.

Adding a personal touch by sending your audience a handwritten piece will go a long way to strengthening donor retention and expanding your donor base.

In fact, there are many unique opportunities to incorporate handwritten mail into every part of your fundraising strategy. To give you some ideas, here are a few that we recommend to the organizations we work with:

A personalized thank-you note to a first-time donor from the executive director;

  • A year-end personal note from the desk of the Board Chair;
  • A handwritten note thanking the donor for an online donation;
  • A note to a lapsed donor highlighting your organization’s accomplishments since the last time they gave;

By taking the time to send handwritten mail at every opportunity, you will stand out as an organization that went the extra mile to show some gratitude.

Get Started Today

If you want to make an impact and a positive impression with your donors, add a handwritten note to your next fundraising campaign. It will help you stand out in a sea of generic solicitation pieces, and it is sure to have a positive impact on your donors.

If you want some additional tips, click here for suggestions on how to make small donors feel important or reach out to our team to help you create a customized plan that works for you.