Ritter’s Direct Mail Piece of the Week: Best Friends

Tugging on heartstrings is one method non-profits use to solicit donations. We recently received a mailer from Best Friends, the largest no-kill animal shelter in the US who tugged on our heartstrings in a very interactive manner. Let’s take a closer look.

Format: The mailer consisted of an outer 9×12 catalog envelope, an 8.5” x 14” letter, a return envelope and a diecut cutout of a puppy. 

Design: One of the most interesting aspects of the mailer was the outer envelope. Best Friends designed it to look like an animal crate, complete with “airholes” and a big stamp that read: “Handle with Care—Puppy inside”. The letter included a color photo of Sven, a real puppy as well as his story. The cutout was a photo of Sven and had a flap on the back, so he could “stand up”. Best Friends refenced “Flat Sven”, much like the children’s Flat Stanley or Flat Francis and encouraged the recipient to take his picture and post to social media and take him places like a real puppy. 

Printing & Paper: There were no special techniques used, the stock was heavy enough and it arrived in good condition. The cutout puppy was on a heavy cardstock which was perfect from a durability standpoint.

Presentation: The large envelope, along with the unique envelope design made this mailer really stand out in my mailbox.

Purpose: Best Friends is using this direct mail package to drive donations.

Offer and Call to Action: The call to action was to send in a donation as well as spreading the word about animal adoption and was mentioned on both the letter as well as on the back of the cutout. Best Friends’ mission is for all animal shelters in the US to become no-kill by the year 2025. Their company tagline is “Save them all”. At their Kanab, UT sanctuary, they help train puppies and other animals, so they are adoptable, and they provide a loving home to cats, dogs, pigs, horses and more until they find their forever home. By humanizing a puppy, people are more likely to relate to Best Friend’s cause. The letter detailed how Sven overcame his chewing problem by attending puppy preschool and how a gift could give other animals the chance to thrive. Best Friends outlines how donations are used and clearly states how to donate: mail a donation, call a phone number or visit a dedicated webpage. 

Digital technology integration: None but none was needed. If there was integration, unless it went to a donation page, it would detract from the real goal, which is to solicit donations.

Personalization: The piece was personalized with name and donation level ask based upon past donation history.

Overall, a very well done, interactive, memorable mailing. Best Friends clearly knows how to fundraise and knows how to appeal to people. They do an excellent job of incorporating their logo, tagline and complimentary orange color to make the pieces visually interesting. The letter told a story that the reader wanted to keep reading and Best Friends used bold wording in select places to highlight key initiatives. They also included a postscript at the end of the letter which was a final appeal.  Finally, the cutout of Sven was just plain cute and who doesn’t love a puppy?