Window envelopes and fundraising just don’t mix. Period.
The key to fundraising is to build relationships. Window envelopes don’t build relationships. Window envelopes tell people that they have a bill to pay or someone is trying to sell them something that they probably don’t want.
No place is this more true than with gift acknowledgments and thank you letters. If we had the time, we’d hand address these and make them as personal as possible. Window envelopes take them in the exact opposite direction. Even if you are seeking payment on a pledge or sending an acquisition appeal, window envelopes are not a good option.
Because of the philanthropic community’s focus on nonprofit efficiency and low expense ratios, the temptation to use window envelopes is always there. They are a less expensive option since they save the cost of printing addresses on the envelope and any hand matching that would need to be done between the letter and the envelope. Most print reps will suggest this to you as a way of cutting costs. However, you need to say “NO” — the connotation is not worth the cost savings.
While this is all backed up by research and window envelopes do decrease donor response, that’s really not the key factor here. What’s important is how you make your donors feel. Window envelopes should come from your donor’s water company, not from a cause that they are passionate about. And if they are giving despite your behavior/treatment, it certainly won’t inspire them to give more.
So, isn’t it time to remove window envelopes from your office? That’s actually a fun Friday afternoon activity … go find all of the window envelopes and hide/pitch/burn them! I don’t even like nonprofit accounting departments using them … it’s an organizational culture kind of thing. It’s one time where the efficiency gained is not worth the price you end up paying.