It takes thoughtful planning and organization to successfully collaborate with volunteers to assemble a bulk mailing. Here’s a five-part plan you can follow to make sure the mailing is put together correctly, on time, and with minimal stress – for you and for the volunteers.
Step 1: Prepare the mailing
If you’ve lined up volunteers to come in and stuff the mailing on Friday, ensure all the pieces are ready for them at least a day in advance. This saves you from the stress of unexpected hiccups at the last minute, like an empty ink cartridge or a jammed printer. Here’s a sample punch list of things to have accomplished before the volunteers arrive:
- Put together the mailing in your database
- Print a sample letter for review, and make any necessary edits
- Print all the pieces of the mailing: letters, envelopes, labels, etc
- Decide exactly how you want the mailing mailing pieces inside the envelopes
- Make sure you have enough supplies, such as postage and remittance envelopes
- Organize the pieces of the mailing and set up a work space for the volunteers
Step 2: Create an example for each volunteer
Once you’ve determined exactly how you want things assembled, put together an example that each of your volunteers can refer to. Provide one for each volunteer, rather than one for the group, so that volunteers can refer to theirs as often as they need to. It’s also helpful to write out instructions and have a copy for each volunteer. For instance, if the addressed envelopes need to stay in a certain order, it’s important to let volunteers know.
Step 3: Explain the bigger picture to your volunteers
Taking time to explain the value of the mailing to your volunteers can help them avoid the perception that they’re doing busy work. Maybe it’s the annual appeal that helps to raise critical funds for your work. Maybe the mailing is informing your constituents about an important issue in the community. Help volunteers understand that with every envelope they stuff, they are moving your mission forward.
Step 4: Help your volunteers feel comfortable
Show them where the bathroom is. Have snacks and water available. It’s a good idea to encourage them to take a break by stepping away from the mailing and enjoying refreshments, rather than eating or drinking over a stack of letters. If possible, give volunteers the option of sitting or standing as they work.
Step 5: Follow up
The mailing is important to your mission even if it isn’t glamorous to assemble. Following up with your volunteers, perhaps even letting them know how the appeal is doing, is a great way to value their participation. If the mailing prompted messages from constituents who were grateful for the information, share an anecdote. That will confirm the importance of their efforts – and the next time you need volunteers to help with a mailing, they’ll be inspired to help again.
Direct mail is often the foundation of fundraising efforts because it’s so effective. If you find yourself in charge of assembling a mailing, you don’t have to go it alone! Using volunteers to help you assemble a mailing is a great way to get people involved with your organization and get those letters in the mail more efficiently.