The Power of a Buckslip: How a Tiny Piece of Paper Can Pay Big Dividends


By Kathy Swayze

November 2, 2021

Ok, let’s begin with the key question … what the heck is a buckslip?

In the direct marketing world, it’s what we call a small insert in your mailing. A buckslip can be added to a direct mail appeal, renewal notice, or acknowledgment package to reinforce key messages or deliver other important information.

Here are five examples that are worth exploring for your donor communications:

1. Boost your credibility. There is a lot of mistrust of nonprofits – and some media outlets stoke these fears unnecessarily. But the truth is, whenever you can boost your credibility as an organization, it’s likely to help your response rates. Consider quotes from prominent stakeholders or existing donors, awards that you’ve received, or charity watchdog ratings. Here’s a nice example from a Save the Children donor acquisition mailing.

2. Promote monthly giving. A buckslip is also a great way to tell your readers about the option to contribute monthly. By putting this message in a buckslip, you can fully explain the advantages of monthly giving and how to sign up … while leaving your main letter focused on the case for giving. Here’s an excellent example from Make-A-Wish Foundation.

3. Deliver a follow up message. One very cost-effective way to increase revenue from your mailings is by re-sending a letter the second time. You can add a buckslip, such as this one we did for Montgomery College, to serve as the cover note to explain why you are sending the letter again and reinforce the importance of the letter.

4. Explain ways to give. There are MANY ways for donors to make gifts to our organizations. A buckslip is a great way to tell donors about different giving options. Here’s a great example from the National Park Foundation.

5. Promote planned gifts. Good donor stewardship requires sending thank you notes. We all do it. But why not make your package do a little extra work by including a buckslip to promote planned giving? You’ve already paid for data processing and postage, so your planned giving message rides for free. Here’s one we created for the League of Conservation Voters.

As you can see, there’s a lot you can do with one little piece of paper. Try out some of these ideas and let us know how it goes.





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