More Direct Mail: Bequests III

Sections of this topic

    In May I helped you write your direct mail bequest letter.

    This month, tips on what to do with your letter.

    If your budget won’t allow direct mail, don’t worry. There are plenty of other bequest promotion channels and I’ll get to them.

    These ideas will improve your direct mail bequest letter:

    Personalize. Use full inside address and a formal salutation (Dear Miss/Mrs./Ms./Mr.). Please don’t use “Dear friend” or “Greetings!” The subject is too personal.

    Don’t Invoice. Use a closed outer envelope, not a window carrier. The subject is personal, private, and serious, so your letter shouldn’t look like an invoice.

    Reply. Include a reply card with options for people to tell you they’d like more information or would consider including you in their will, and—most important—that that they already have included you.

    Secure. Your reply card gets returned in an envelope. Don’t design it as a self-mailer. The return information is sensitive. I don’t even like self-mailers that fold over to conceal responses because they don’t feel as secure as an envelope.

    Stamp It. Apply a live stamp, at the first class presort rate (to save money over first class). I don’t like bulk mail or metering for your personalized, sincere letter.

    Direct mail gurus may disagree with what I recommend. They may even have research supporting different advice, but the research I’ve seen is never based on long-term, informational mailings. This is what I do for clients, and it works.

    Your objective isn’t strictly to hit a target rate of reply. Largely, mailings like this are educational and informative. Although you need to include the reply device, you’ve hit a home run if someone saves your letter for retrieval when meeting an attorney years from now to prepare or revise their will. This is long-term fundraising.

    In July we’ll digress from promotion and I’ll explain why bequests are the foundation of your Planned Giving program and why we’ve started promotion there.

    Tony Martignetti, Esq. is the host of Tony Martignetti Nonprofit Radio. He’s a Planned Giving consultant, speaker, author, blogger and stand-up comic. You’ll find him at
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