When it comes to letters sent to donors, there's a very simple answer to this question.
A stamp means your letter is far more likely to be opened and, for an appeal, will bring you more income.
Why? There's no mystery to it. In the deluge of post a charity donor receives, a stamp and a hand-written address stand out. It means a fellow human has written to you, rather than a company or a computer. And this excellent post from Rachel Brown, one of the Fundraising Collective, shows the value of the personal touch.
So today we're celebrating the humble stamp and sharing a few of its secrets. Did you know a stamp can actually mean a whole range of things? More of that in a moment.
First here's the best example we have here at BF of how a stamp can create an irresistible envelope. When we arranged to have the appeal sent from the Democratic Republic of Congo, we didn't quite realise just how many stamps it would require to reach donors back in the UK. Look at what appeared through their letter boxes.
ActionAid mid-value donors received a thank you for their support, direct from the Democratic Republic of Congo. The fabulous stamps show local animals, birds and plants.
And here's an example of where using a stamp was rather less eye-catching, but just as crucial. Our aim was to get a response from Leeds Alumni, who hadn't been in touch with the University since leaving. We realised that, in some cases, it was likely we had their parents' address and we were relying on them deeming the envelope worthy of forwarding. So we put on a stamp.
Would your parents forward you this important piece of mail from the University of Leeds?
Okay, so stamps are clearly great. But is there anything further to add?
Well I thought – as an aside – you might be interested in the secret meaning of stamps.
In the late 19th century/early 20th century, writers of letters and cards would often conceal a secret message, using the stamp to do so.
This card shows some of the messages you can convey simply by the position of the stamp.
So while it might appear the postcard below is message-less, it actually seems to say 'I am always thinking of you' (if I've translated correctly)
Royal Mail guidelines tend to be rather restrictive but it appears there's no law against putting stamps upside down. And I'm thinking the 'love post' sounds ideal for donors. If we could still use the secret language of stamps, direct mail could be so much more...direct.
Can you de-code the messages I have in mind for particular groups of donors?
- All donors: Stamp left hand corner upside down.
- Lapsed donors: Stamp top hand corner. Right way up.
- Legacy donors: Stamp right hand side of surname. Right way up.
- High value donors: Bottom right hand corner. Right way up.
Answers on a - er - postcard.