Segmenting Your Market is a True “Gift”

I hate mailing labels. Rather I hate receiving mailing labels. Yes, I know they can save a few seconds when you put them on a letter rather than having to write out your return address. I also know that one day I will run out of the 36,523 that I already have from all of the various charities that send them to me. Reality is I just don’t send that many letters any more. I don’t like throwing them out for obvious environmental reasons. And they break down my shredder because of their gummy backs.

I’ve even called one charity to request that they stop sending me the dozens of labels I was getting from them a couple times a year. They continued sending them. I hired a friend to help me declutter and she called them. Didn’t work. I called the organization and asked why they send mailing labels when hardly anyone mails letters these days. The woman replied that some people were still sending money in return. I must not be the only one asking about this because some charities now include a list of potential uses for the labels (eg., putting them on your books). Wouldn’t it be better to send something that people know they need?

Okay, I understand. I’ve worked with many non-profits and know how tight their budgets are. The mailing labels are inexpensive to produce and can lay flat for mailing. But still, it’s critical to segment your market. If a donor like me makes multiple efforts to request you not to send them, you need to be able to exclude me from your mailing list. (Or start telling donors that if they donate, you won’t send them mailing labels, similarly to when people donate not to attend another charity event.)

So I was actually thrilled a few months back when a hospital sent me a canvas grocery bag with their name printed on it. Here was something useful at last. On top of doing remarkable work in cancer care, the organization obviously also had some smart fundraisers. Their “gift” stood out.

So I was a bit disheartened today when I received my latest request from the same hospital foundation and it contained, wouldn’t you know: MAILING LABELS. Now it’s only a page worth, so it’s better than some. They also included some post-it notes, which actually are very useful, so thank you.

For those non-profits who would like to be a little more creative with what you send your donors, please e-mail me at anne [at] I have a friend in the promotional products biz, and I’m sure we can come up with something!

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