Thursday, October 31, 2013

Designing Magnets...

Here at Chalk Line, we’re happy to help design your magnet. If you’ve never designed anything with Chalk Line before, here’s how it works:  

Submit your order information, along with your picture you’d like to use for the magnet and your text on the order form. For the text, most folks will include their name, ministry, ministry logo, a short tagline, and their contact information, but you’re welcome to include more or less – it’s up to you!

Give us 1-2 days to put together a proof – we’ll send a PDF proof back to you for you to review, and you can make as many changes as you need before we print. Send your changes via e-mail, and we’ll reply back with the corrected pdf proof as soon as we’re able.

Once you’ve got a design that’s ready to print, let us know you’re ready to put the magnet order in line to print. We’ll have your order details from the order page, and we’ll get started as soon as possible.

If you’re ready to try your hand at designing your own magnet, remember that we’ve got some design requirements that need to be met when putting the magnet together. The two most important requirements are these:
  1. Use a high resolution photo (300 dpi or higher) for your magnet
  2. Make sure to create your magnet with the correct “bleed” room – we require .125” bleed room from the edge and an additional .25” safe zone to ensure that nothing important is cut off when we create the magnets.
You can use our “how-to” guide available here to help guide you through the magnet set-up process. If you’re in doubt, send the magnet proof to and we’ll let you know if your magnet is print-ready. J

If you have any questions about the design process, just let us know. We're excited to see what you put together! 

Friday, October 25, 2013

That Special Time of Year: More about End of Year Asks

So here we are, about to go into the busiest time of year… the End of Year/Christmas mailing season. We know that your time is precious, and so we’ve developed a quick guide to putting together your end of year ask. You may remember that we gave a few suggestions about end of year asks back in April, which can be read here: “Standing Out in the Crowd: A Quick Guide to Special Asks”.

Now, as we go into the holidays, we know there is more to putting together an ask than just the color of the envelope! There are a lot of details and special requests, and we want to make sure you know about how best to request those.

Timing is everything…

The first question I get asked a lot is this: “I want my letter to arrive the day after Thanksgiving/right around Christmas, etc.… When should I send my letter in so that it will go out and arrive by then?

Since we send all letters via USPS first-class mail, all letters usually arrive after sending within 3 business days in most cases. However, during the holiday season, not only do the post office get a little overwhelmed, but Chalk Line does too. This is why we always recommend getting your ask in early! One suggestion we give often is to send in your order a week or so early, and specify what date you’d like it to mail. If you include the instructions in the comment box on the order form, we will mark it for mailing on the date you specify.

Also, as we enumerated in our previous blog post, we want to encourage all folks to follow this handy guide to mailing:

  • For end of year mailings to arrive around the Thanksgiving holidays (November 28-29, 2013), please send all items to Chalk Line by November 20.
  • For mailings that need to be sent before Christmas (December 25, 2013), we are recommending them be sent to Chalk Line by December 20, 2013.

Because this is a busy season, please allow a few extra days for your mailing to go out. Your patience is appreciated and we are so thankful to be able to help you in your busy time!

Also, we will be out of the office for the Thanksgiving Holiday on November 28-Dec 1,  and the Christmas Holiday (dates TBD), and we will respond to any requests/orders received over those days as soon as we are able.

Keep it Simple, sir…

Everyone has a way that they like to send an ask letter… We know everyone is unique, and there are as many ways to send an ask as there are creatures in God’s creation. However, there are a few combinations that I see often, and I like to break them down into categories.
  1. A simple ask. This has a letter and a response envelope included, which can sometimes be a pre-printed envelope sent to us by the customer or the ministry headquarters.
  2. An ask with a commitment card. This will usually include a commitment card along with the letter and response envelope. With Chalk Line’s perforated legal paper, our customers have the option to include the commitment card on the perforated part of their letter.
  3. A Combination Ask & Christmas gift – this will include a commitment card, response envelope, and a little special something extra they want to give to their supporters as a thank you for their support. Often, this will be a magnet or photo card printed by Chalk Line, or a pre-printed photo sent to us from a company like Snapfish or Shutterfly, or a small paper item picked up in their country of ministry. (We’ve seen bookmarks from East Asia, paper crafts from Southeast Asia, Chai tea from the Middle East, Christmas ornaments from Eastern European countries like Russia and Ukraine… the list goes on!) 
Obviously, the thing all of these have in common is the addition of extra inserts, which can sometimes complicate an order. We are using each day to refine the order process on our order form, but hopefully, you’ll find whatever you need there. You'll also notice that each of these has a response envelope of some type included. If you have indicated in your letter or instructions that this is an ask and you aren't including an envelope, we may ask if you'd like to include one, as they are the item most commonly requested with an ask letter. 

Here’s a handy guide for pricing on some of the items that are often included:

Response Envelopes:

  • Pre-printed ministry giving envelope …  Free to Insert
  • Pre-printed CRU giving envelope with Cru address … Free to Insert (see image above)
  • Pre-Printed CRU giving envelope with YOUR address printed by Chalk Line … $0.05 (see image above)
  • Response envelope printed by Chalk Line without postage … $0.20
  • Response envelope printed by Chalk Line WITH postage … $0.69

Commitment Cards:
  • Response card printed by Chalk Line - $0.15-$0.18, depending on size
  • ½ page insert on paper - $0.35
  • Additional letter-size insert 1-sided in color … $0.45
  • Additional letter-size insert 2-sided in color … $0.45
  • Additional letter-size insert, 1-sided in b/w… $0.30
  • Additional letter-size insert, 2-sided in b/w … $0.35

Special paper/envelopes
  • Special perforated legal-size paper - $0.10
  • 28lb semi-gloss paper - $0.10
  • Pastel colored special paper - $0.03
  • Pastel colored envelopes - $0.10
  • Astrobright colored special paper  - $0.03
  • Astrobright colored special paper - $0.10
  • 6 x 9 envelope - $0.17 
  • There are many other items that folks will ask for and include in their letters, but they are not as common and may not be on the order form. If you have a special request for your mailing that you do not know the price for, let us know, and we will do our best to send an estimate for you to review. 

Less is more…

As you can see, there are a lot of different choices, not just in additional items that can be included, but also the colors and types of paper and envelopes that can be used.  As you may imagine, whenever you add items to an order, it does require a little more special attention. That’s why you may see a “hand-labor” charge on your order. Many unusual items which may not go through our machine or may not fit in a normal size envelope will require one or more of the following hand labor charges:
  • Hand insert
  • Hand fold
  • Hand stamp
  • Hand seal

Each of these hand labors will incur an additional $0.10 per recipient, and so if you have a combination ask, where you’ve got a letter, a response card, a response envelope, and a family photo, that might have two hand-insert fees, as our machine will only insert a letter and one additional piece per recipient.  Or, if you were sending something bulky, or something magnetic along with your letter, you would see a hand-insert and a hand-seal, because the addition of the letter would cause the letter to not be able to be sealed by the machine – the magnet gets stuck in the metal machinery.

Also, remember that if you have enough items in your mailing, your mailing may go over 1 oz. in weight, which will require additional postage. In this case, not only will there be additional postage costs (usually $0.20), but also a hand-stamp fee, since it will need to have a non-machineable stamp.

We want to make sure that your mailing stands out in the crowd, but we also want to make sure your money is spent wisely. Sometimes, a mailing that can sound like a good idea can actually be more than you bargained for.  If you have a special idea for a mailing and want a price quote, ask ahead of time so that we can send an estimate without delaying your mailing.

Make it personal…

And the best way to do that is to make your supporter feel special. And sometimes, the best way to do that is to give it some extra TLC. A lot of folks, because of their busy schedules, can’t do the whole shebang, but they do want to write a little note or slip a little something extra into the letters to their close friends and family. That’s why we are happy to do as much of the work as we can, and then ship the order back for you to finish… That way, if you want to write a note to cousin Emma, or put a special something in the envelope to your Mom and Dad, you can do so! Just let us know in the comment box of the order form, and we’ll be happy to do as much or as little of the printing/stuffing/stamping, and when we’re done, we’ll ship it back to you for you to finish up.

Remember the reason for the season

The holidays are busy, with lots of hustle, bustle, business, parties, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and everything in between. When putting together your mailings, remember that it’s not just about an appeal or a magnet or a thank you card… it’s about celebrating the gift of Jesus Christ and sharing that gift with your supporters. We are here to do our best to make you look your best, and we hope that our service to you at this special time of year helps not just you, but also your supporters, friends, and family, have a joyous holiday season.

We’re excited to see what this season has in store for you and for us – may this season bring you many blessings! 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Fall News from Chalk Line - October 2013

October is here, and with it comes the busiest time of year! As many of you may know, the upcoming holiday season brings a unique opportunity to connect with your supporters, and Chalk Line is here to help you make those connections in any way we can. As this busy season starts, we just wanted to let you know about a few things that are new or helpful at Chalk Line!

Meet the new, improved Order Form

As you may be aware, Chalk Line has been in the process of updating our order form to make your ordering process faster and more efficient. We are encouraging everyone to use this form to submit their orders, and we are adding new features and functionality to it as we listen to your feedback.

Starting January 1, 2014, we will no longer be accepting orders via e-mail/attachments. All orders must be placed via the order form.

Many features we've added to the order form are helping everyday customers such as yourself make their order process go more smoothly. It has everything you need in one place!

  • Update your return address, billing information, and other account information
  • Use the multiple upload spots to upload your letter, mailing list, and return envelope graphic
  • Upload all file types, including PDF, Word, Excel, CSV, Pages, Publisher, Numbers, etc.
  • Estimate your total cost and choose your exact order details
  • Include special instructions in the comment box
  • Submit promotional codes for special offers
And there are many more features available - The order form is easy to use and there are less complications and confusion. We hope that this order form will make your experience with Chalk Line even better!

End of Year Appeals & Christmas Mailings

You may think it's too early to think about your special End of Year appeal letter. We know from experience that the holidays can leave many last-minute mailers in the lurch. We're committed to start giving you details now so that you can think about your mailing before it's too late.

Many folks ask, “Can Chalk Line help with my end of year ask?” and the answer is YES! We can include many special inserts, such as response cards, response envelopes, or pre-printed inserts that you provide to us.
  • 1/3 or 1/4 commitment cards printed by Chalk Line
  • Response envelopes (stamped or unstamped) that will return to your address printed by Chalk Line
  • Pre-printed response envelopes that will return to your ministry headquarters
  • Prayer magnets, prayer cards, or photo cards printed by Chalk Line
  • Family photos, prayer cards, or magnets printed and send to Chalk Line
  • Various irregular items supplied by creative customers and many other items we haven’t even seen yet!
At Chalk Line, we want to do our best to accommodate your end of year mailing needs – most importantly, we want you to start thinking about the process now. Because of the late holiday schedule this year (Thanksgiving is November 28), we want to make sure you know when the best time to submit your mailing is.
  • We are recommending end of year mailings that are being mailed to arrive around the Thanksgiving holiday be sent to Chalk Line by November 20 so that we can prepare them for mailing by November 25.
  • Also, we recommend any mailings that need to be sent before Christmas we are recommending be sent to Chalk Line before December 16 so they can be prepared for mailing by December 20.
Look for a follow-up e-mail from Chalk Line with all this information about the End of Year mailing process, pricing, and more coming in the following weeks.

More details on Magnets!

As we discovered at the 2013 Cru All-Staff Conference this year, many of our customers were excited that Chalk Line prints magnets! We are excited too – We've been printing magnets for a year, and we are so thrilled at the great response our customers have had!

If you are interested in printing magnets this Fall, here are the details for our magnets:
  • Standard Size (4.75” x 3.25”) - $0.85 per magnet. Must be ordered in quantities of 10. Rounded corners.
  • Business Card Size (3.5” x 2”) - $0.55 per magnet. Must be ordered in quantities of 20. Square corners.
Use our order form to submit your magnet order, where you can choose your magnet size, quantity and shipping method!

If you are designing and submitting your own magnet, please be aware that all magnets must be submitted with a .125” bleed zone on all sides, so the submitted magnet must be 5” x 3.5” or 3.75” x 2.25”. We also recommend your magnet photo be 300 dpi or higher. Find out more about designing your own magnet using our how-to guide, available to download here.

Chalk Line will also design your magnet for no additional cost. You will need to submit your picture through the order form, choosing magnet design in the services section, and include what you’d like the magnet to say in the “comments or instructions” box at the end of the order. We will put a draft together and send a PDF proof for you to review. Make as many changes as needed, and once we have your final approval, we’ll put the print order in.

We look forward to seeing the beautiful magnets that we'll print for you!

Saturday, April 20, 2013


Spring is one of my favorite seasons - Spring Break, Easter and celebrating the Lord's sacrifice and Resurrection, warmer weather, winding down on campus... So much is going on! 

Beautiful spring flowers that
our accountant's husband brought her!
Spring is also the time of year when a lot of special projects are happening, and people are prepping for big mission trips overseas or here at home. Other folks are getting ready for a season of ministry partner development, which can include months on the road, traveling and visiting with friends and family, and reconnecting with partners and churches to update them on your ministry.

All this activity is always very stressful, and one of the biggest factors in that can be making sure you have enough funds in your ministry account to cover the extra expenses - which means sending your supporters a special-ask letter.

Sending a special ask can be taxing, especially since it's one of those things you only do once or twice a year, and every aspect is considered and prayed over and examined before you send it. The minutiae of getting your ask to stand out and get noticed can be a little confusing, and many of the questions I get asked most frequently involve what options are best for sending your letter to get it noticed. Every person is different, but the Chalk Line team has noticed some trends over the years, and we wanted to fill you in on some of the tips we've seen and some of the options you have if you send your letter through Chalkline.

Some of the most important things to do are fairly common sense:

  • Put a date on the letter, make sure your name and contact information are clearly visible. 
  • Keep the letter to one page, use a mail merge to address your partner personally. 
  • Make sure to address where you are at in ministry and be specific about your need, especially if you are asking for a specific project or event. 
  • Invite the partner to give based on how the Lord leads them, and make a commitment to them to follow up the letter with a phone call or e-mail. 
  • Include a self-addressed envelope for them (it doesn't have to be pre-stamped). 
  • Don't wait until the last minute - you want to give yourself plenty of time for follow-up and to make sure all the details are correct. 

And most importantly, remember that the Lord our God "will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:19.

Now, you might say "That's all nice, Tiffany, but what can I do to REALLY stand out?" Well, we have a few things that might be able to help:

  • Send in a brightly colored envelope, or put a picture of you and your family on the front of the envelope to draw attention to the letter
  • Use a "handwritten font" (such as Dakota, Segoe Script, or Lucida Handwriting) on the front of the envelope to mimic the appearance of hand writing the addresses
  • Take advantage of the back of the envelope for extra emphasis- Chalkline now offers backside envelope printing!
  • Use a colored paper, or a nicer paper (such as our Hammermill Semi-Gloss, or an Ivory Linen paper)  for a special look
  • If you need to include a response card or prayer card, you can have that printed on a colored cardstock, or you can use our special legal perforated paper, which has a perforation at the 11" mark, allowing the bottom 3" to be used for a response card. (You can download the template here:

We do our best to accommodate most special requests, and if you have any specific questions about sending a special ask, just contact us.

Finally, I will pass on these two pieces of advice: 1) you know your supporters so much better than we do, and 2) the most effective letters I've seen have been some of the most simply-designed. Often, it's not about standing out in the crowd, it's being honest, prayerful, and remembering that God is our provider. 

And we can't say this enough: We at Chalkline are thankful to be a part of your ministry process. :) Your ministry to further the Gospel is a blessing to us!

Friday, March 8, 2013


By Tiffany @ Chalk Line 

Many of you ask whether
I'm a real person or not... Well, Here I am! 

It’s March 2013, and so much has happened since we last blogged here at Chalk Line. 2012 was a busy year for us, and we are so thankful to the Lord and to our customers for what we have been able to do to serve our customers in their ministry.

We’ve rolled out some exciting products – none more exciting for us and for you guys than our magnets! So many people have asked us in years past whether we could do magnets – We rolled them out in May, and based on your response, I’d say they were a huge success! We’re working on some exciting projects with our magnets, so keep your eyes out for some new things we will hopefully announce soon.

Also new for us are two new billing options: Discover card and PayPal! They are new for us in 2013, and we are happy to offer those to our customers as methods of payment. If you have any questions about how to go about using either a Discover card or your PayPal account, you can contact Kayla in accounting (, who will be happy to answer those or any other billing questions you might have!

In other news, with growth and change come growing pains, and I am so sad to say that my wonderful co-worker and friend Mary Claire, who worked at Chalk Line for six years, was called into the mission field herself  - she left in August 2012 and is now working with an orphanage in Haiti. (You can find out more about Mary Claire and her ministry at her blog here:

Also, we ask for your prayers for our Print Manager, Doug, who injured his knee a few weeks ago, and has been out of the office after knee surgery on his patella tendon – we are praying for him and his family, and for his speedy recovery and return to the office.

We are continually working to find new and better ways to serve you in your ministry – whether finding new and better equipment or offering the next best product, we are hard at work here in the office.

More news to come in the next few weeks – we are thankful to stay busy here at Chalk Line, and I’m hoping to keep in touch with you via the blog much more often.

-          Tiffany, for the Chalk Line staff

“Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!” – Psalm 90:17 (ESV)

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Slavations, Dance Parties, and the Wicked Bible: Why Editing Is Your Friend

(Originally posted by Mary Claire on January 26, 2012)

Today we’re going to talk about one of my favorite things: EDITING.  I have always had a love of all things GSP (that is, grammar, spelling, and punctuation to those in the know).  Most people just think I’m weird.  I’ll allow that grammar is a very dry thing, but it is also important.  The purpose of grammar is to systematize and standardize language.  And what is the purpose of language?


Communication is what we’re about here at Chalk Line.  We want you guys to be able to communicate with your peeps as effectively and efficiently as possible.  You have amazing stories to share, and when one of your primary methods of communication is written, it’s important to always keep an eye out for mistakes that may cause ambiguity in what you’re trying to say.

We don’t usually see big problems in our letters, but one typo has become infamous here at Chalk Line Mission Control.  In the letter, the word “salvation” was misspelled as “slavation.”  Oops.  The letter was sent to us as in an uneditable format, which meant we couldn’t correct the mistake, and while the typo was an obvious one and most readers would know immediately what the intended word was, there are moments when even the simplest of typos can cause major miscommunication.

Ever heard of the Wicked Bible?  It’s an edition of the King James Version printed in England in 1631.  In this version, a very small but very important word was omitted from Exodus 20:14.  The seventh commandment read, “Thou shalt commit adultery.”  I’m pretty sure that is NOT the commandment Moses wrote down on Mount Sinai, and it was definitely NOT the commandment I sang about in my children’s choir production of Good Kings Come in Small Packages.

Editing is important because it helps ensure that you’re saying exactly what it is that you want to say.

Below are a few common mistakes we see:
  1. “Apart” and “a part” are two different things.  One means separate from and the other means included in.  If I wrote, “Tiffany is having an impromptu dance party, and I’m turning up the volume and going to be apart of it,” what I’m really saying is that I’m turning up the music and then...sitting and watching Tiffany dance.  Oh no no no.  If Tiffany is having an impromptu dance party, you bet your dance pants that I will be A PART of it.

    Similar to that, we see the word “alot” a lot.

  2. Sometimes    people’s      thumbs   seem to  rest    a  bit too      heavily  on  the space         b a  r  .

  3. Apostrophes have specific usage, but unfortunately, people sometimes overuse the poor little guys.  In general, apostrophes are used for contractions and possessives, not for plurals.  The place where we see mistakes most is in the plural of a family’s last name, e.g. the Smiths.  There is more than one of them, so there is no apostrophe.  

Here’s a breakdown:

    Those things over there are the smith’s.  (Those things over there belong to the smith.)
    Those things over there are the smiths’.  (Those things over there belong to a collection of smiths.)
    Those things over there are the Smiths.  (Those things over there are a collection of Smiths.)

    See the diff?  For more info on apostrophes than you’ll probably ever need, click here.

  4. Consistency is key.  There are gray (grey?) areas in the world of grammar and punctuation.  Is the serial comma is obsolete?  Is it toward or towards?  What is the subjunctive tense in English?  (These are all things I think about.)  What I recommend is that you pick a standard and stick to it.  For example, how do you handle the capitalization of pronouns with God or Jesus as the antecedent?  Is it proper to capitalize He or Him?  Here’s what the Chicago Manual of Style has to say

    “Chicago lowercases such pronouns, but it’s not wrong to uppercase, especially if you are writing for a religious readership or anyone else who might take lowercasing as a sign of disrespect. In matters of style, in contrast to those of grammar, there are few right or wrong answers. Different houses follow different style guides in order to make their publications consistent.”


    So there’s no hard and fast rule here.  Even the Bible differs on this one, depending on which version you're reading.  Just pick a standard, and then be consistent.

I hope you find these suggestions helpful.  We’re not here to be your English teachers, but we are here to support you guys.   We can also proof your letter for you before it mails.  Just let Tiffany know, and she’ll look at it for you or send it my way.

So you mail letters for people? What's the big D? 

(Originally written and posted by Mary Claire, January 10, 2012)

I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume that when someone asks you what you do for a living, you have some rote response ready to go, a prepackaged sound byte that wraps up your job description neatly and concisely.  I know I’ve got one.  It’s convenient to have a answer on hand (one that has become more and more necessary as college fades and my 10-year high school reunion looms).  But while these responses are handy for explaining what we do, they do not always explain why we do what we do.  

And “why” is the bigger question.

Just as “why” is an important question for an individual, it’s also an important question for a company to ask itself because it addresses its very existence.

So why does Chalk Line exist?

In 2001, Ed and Tina Goerges started mailing out their daughter and son-in-law’s prayer letters through their direct mail company.  It didn’t take long before God laid it on their hearts to open up their services to other missionaries.  As they began putting word out there, people kept signing up, proving that there was a need for a simpler way for missionaries to communicate with their partners.  So back in 2002, God led a couple to start a niche company with no guarantee it would make any money, and Chalk Line was created.  

Here we stand at the advent of 2012, our tenth year, looking forward to a new year that will bring about some developments at Chalk Line that we’re really excited about (stay tuned; we’ve got some things cooking).  And I’m not just blowing hot air when I say that.  We are SO EXCITED, Y’ALL.  It has just as much to do with the fun things we’re working on as it does the fun people we are working for.  You guys make our jobs legit.  We want to serve you better because we care about you and those you’re serving, and we are committed to doing our very best to support you.  

Why do we work here?  Why does Chalk Line keep moving along day in and day out?  It helps that we’re a collection of peeps and geeks who feel passionately about design, print quality, and stamp placement, but it’s much, much bigger than that.

Your work is important.  Your network is important.  Communication is difficult, no matter if you’re serving at one of the largest universities in the US or out in the bush of Botswana.  We can help you with that.

That is why we exist. 

How’s that for a sound byte?