Newsletters, Envelopes, and New Members

Newsletters, Envelopes, and New Members

Last week, I posted about looking at gift memberships and member-get-a-member campaigns in a new way, and I offered some ideas about how to get the most out of these activities as “acquisition” tools. You can find that post here. This week, I have another membership acquisition strategy to tell you about:

A Michigan-based land trust I recently audited overprints its newsletters by about 3,500. Then, using a significant amount of legwork on the part of the staff and several Board members, they distribute the extra copies throughout their service area. The response envelope stapled into the center is used by about 200 new members each year to carry membership checks.

The newsletter is 16-pages, color, and includes a largish membership envelope stapled in the center. The envelope contains varied (probably too much) information about ways to get involved and options for giving money to support the programs. The organization publishes 5,000 newsletters each quarter and mails out about 1,500 to members, landowners, and other conservancy friends. The remaining newsletters are distributed to doctor/dentist offices, extension offices, libraries, downtown businesses, vineyards, and so on throughout nine counties.

The newsletter accomplishes three important objectives. First, it works with and supports all the other outreach activities (speaking engagements, cultivation events and gatherings, preserve activities and workparties, and so on) to softly provide an insistent call to action. Second, when a member/donor does decide to join or give, the envelope inside provides an easy-to-find mailing mechanism to facilitate the gift. Last, and maybe most importantly, when they do produce membership acquisition mail, the results are enhanced.

Worthy of note is that a handful of new members join at the $500 level each year – checking the largest box available on the envelope. Including a $1,000 box might generate more happy surprises.

Finally, consider whether your grantmakers would be more favorably inclined toward funding the overprinting and distribution of newsletters than they would other membership acquisition activities. A well crafted newsletter proposal might open up a public or community foundation that wouldn’t otherwise consider funding your programs.

Does your organization use stapled envelopes in your newsletters? Do you overprint and distribute them? What is your experience? As always, your comments, responses, and questions are welcomed here and by email at



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