To Stamp Or Not To Stamp

Hello Kim:

In the process of our last large mailing, a debate about whether to provide a stamped remit envelope ensued. The two sides of the coin are as follows:

(1) If we send a stamp, people are more likely to send money back or

(2) Sending stamps to so many people who may not donate is a waste of money and may be perceived as wasteful to our donors.

In the last mailing, we spent $600 on remit envelope stamps and bought in over $16,000 for the mailing which is VERY unusual. The average recoup for a mailing is $8,000 without the cost of the remit stamps.

What do you think?

— Stamp out stamps or send stamps out


Dear Stamp Stamps:

You actually answered your own question with the information that in your last mailing you raised $16,000 using stamped remit envelopes, compared to $8,000 you gross normally. You way more than made back the extra $600 you spent on stamps.

You are correct that the stamped envelopes that don’t come back to you may be wasted, or the person may use the envelope to write to their mother. Here is another option: it seems that your donors respond to stamped envelopes so why don’t you set up a “Business Reply” account at the post office? You then just pay for the envelopes that are returned to you, but the donor still gets free postage.

To be truthful, I generally advise against either stamps or business reply envelopes and have never seen such a dramatic difference in outcome just from using stamps. As you analyze this more deeply, make sure that was the only major variable. If something else (timing, content of the letter, quality of the list) may have caused the difference, your argument about stamps may not be leading you anywhere.

—Kim Klein