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! 

No comments:

Post a Comment