Direct Mail – Mailhouse

Direct Mail – Mailhouse

Earlier this month, I encouraged taking out the fall appeal letters you started back in February and starting to get them in shape for a September drop date. (See Fall Appeal Planning.)  I encouraged planning to drop the first appeal letter the last week in September and even printing them all NOW – in July.

“Print the letters with September date, fold and stuff them, seal them, and put stamps on. Then put them in a box on a shelf with the drop date written on the outside.”


Fundraiser’s Almanac: July


Fundraiser’s Almanac: August

  • Go on a Hike
  • Saturation Mail
  • Membership Drives
  • Join Yourself


That scenario presumes, of course, that you do not have a mailhouse doing all the work for you. If you do have a mailhouse that you work with, what you can do now is get the merge files ready to go. But you should also do something else that will help avoid headaches down the road.

Print out a mock-up copy of the entire appeal package and go talk to your mailhouse account rep about it. They can help you avoid common mistakes and oversights, costly delays, and other unanticipated problems. Like what? you might ask.


  • Having the weight of an insert push the total weight just over the allowable limit (results in extra postage or even rejected mail).
  • Having the special envelope your designer came up with measure out larger in some dimension than the maximum allowed by the post office (results in extra postage or even rejected mail).
  • Not printing addresses with barcodes on the envelopes (could have saved money on postage with printed barcodes).
  • Printing the return address, in attractive script!, on the back side of the envelope (if the return address is not printed on the front side of the envelope, undeliverable mail will not be returned).
  • Printing the indicia, return address, “to” address, or bar code too, high, low, small, or large (results in extra postage or even rejected mail).
  • Not clearly printing “Nonprofit Organization”, “NONPROFIT ORG”, or “NONPROFIT” in the stamp area (results in extra postage or even rejected mail).

How do I know that it’s a good idea to take a mock-up to the mailhouse for advice and consult? I’ve made all these mistakes and several more.

Have you made mistakes that consulting a mailhouse in advance would have prevented?

Do share.




PS: Join me, and direct mail expert Anita O’Gara, at Rally 2015 for an entertaining workshop on getting the most from your direct mail program.


Photo courtesy of Northeast Wisconsin Land Trust.


Related Posts

Four Things You Can Do in August to Raise More Money This Fall

Editing Appeal Letters

Fall Appeal Planning

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1 Comment
  • Anita
    Posted at 06:16h, 28 July

    This is good advice, David.
    I still remember the day the post office called me to say, “The 4,000 magazines your printer just dropped off don’t have a bulk rate indicia on them. Come get them.” Talk about panic! 🙂