"There are three kinds of copy: 'you' copy, 'me' copy and 'it' copy." - Walter Weintz

Walter Weintz was the author of the book The Solid Gold Mailbox: How to Create Winning Mail-Order Campaigns.

While Weintz was talking about how to make sales through direct mail, his words above apply to fundraising via direct mail, too.

Combine 'you' copy, 'me' copy, and 'it' copy with two envelopes, and you're on your way to a winning fundraising appeal.

Let's look at a real-life example from my mailbox - a fundraising appeal I received last month.


This is the language you use that talks directly to the donor. It's donor-centric, not organization-centric.

"Last year, you stepped up, not back... You've been in the thick of this battle the whole time. You're still there - making sure children and families have enough to eat."


This is your offer - telling the donor what the problem is, your solution to the problem, and, as specifically as you can, how her gift will help.

"Vast regions have suffered a 'hunger pandemic'... Your support enables FH to serve in nations hit hardest by the hunger pandemic... You will have the joy of knowing that, because of matching grants, your gift will go 22 times as far to help..."


This is what's called an affirmation statement or acceptance statement. You'll see this at the top of a reply device.

"Yes, I want to make sure that children and families have enough to eat... I've enclosed my gift of..."


This is the envelope that donors return to you, along with their donation. It can be a postage-paid business reply envelope or one where the donor adds a stamp.


This is also called the carrier envelope. This envelope has not one, but two jobs.

First, it delivers the contents of your package to the donor. And second, it has to make the donor say, "This piece of mail looks so interesting that I must open it!"

As John Lepp explains in his book, Creative Deviations, you need to "obsess" over outer envelopes. (He does.) "If you get it wrong, it doesn't matter how good the rest of the content is. You have failed."


Words matter. Remember to use 'you' copy, 'it' copy, and 'me' copy in your next fundraising letter.

Remember that the envelopes are an important part of the fundraising package, too.

Think about it. You may have written the perfect letter, made the strongest possible case for support, and given your donor the best reason in the world to give.

But, if she doesn't open your letter, she won't read it.

And if she doesn't read it, she won't give.

And if she does open the outer envelope, but you didn't include a reply envelope, you're automatically lowering the chances that she'll give.

The bottom line? Better letters + better envelopes = more fundraising success.

Hat tip to Denny Hatch for the inspiration for this post.


If you're looking for more examples of how the pieces of a direct mail pack fit together, you might enjoy the 3-part series below.

It's written by one of my favorite fundraising folks, John Lepp at Agents of Good.

The blog series explores "Dale's Mail" – 60 pieces of real life fundraising direct mail.

  • Part 1 is about envelopes.
  • Part 2 is about the letters.
  • Part 3 is about the reply card/envelope.

Photo credit(s): Unsplash

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