glossary of terms

a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z




A mailing sent to a donor to acknowledge the receipt of a donation and to express gratitude. The package includes a personalized letter which mentions the specific amount of the gift, so that the donor can use it as a receipt for tax purposes if desired. The letter makes the donor feel positive and appreciated. The package often includes materials that provide the opportunity for a second gift. It is usually sent with any merchandise the donor may have requested, such as additional greeting cards or premium gift items.

Acquisition package


A mailing sent to a prospective donor who has not yet made a donation. This package serves as an introduction and makes the case for why the prospective donor should support the organization or cause. Those who respond to this package become active donors, and can be sent additional mailings in the future.

Addressing piece


A response piece in a mailing which has the donor’s name and address pre-printed, so the information need not be filled out by the donor.



The group of people who will receive a mailing. The audience is primarily made up of people who have donated to the cause or organization in the past. An acquisition audience is compiled from one or more mailing lists of people who have given to other, similar causes.

Average gift


The average amount of the donations sent by people who respond to a mailing. The amount of the average gift varies depending on the demographics of the audience and the perception of value created by the package (i.e., what the donor seems to be getting in return for his or her contribution).




A set of graphical and textual elements that represent an organization or company. This usually includes a logo, the name of the organization, and basic contact information. The branding should be consistent, unique and immediately recognizable, and should be displayed on the outside envelope and on all elements of the mailing.



A small one or two sided slip that can be inserted into a package. The buckslip may provide information, or may offer a separate opportunity for the donor to request items and make a gift.


Card package


A package which contains free greeting cards for the recipient to use. The cards may relate to a holiday or to a specific function (inspirational, get well, in sympathy, etc.) Card packages create a higher perception of value and thus often result in higher average gifts.

Card reorder/enrollment slip


In a card package, each greeting or enrollment card is accompanied by a slip which enables the donor to make a financial offering and to send the name of the card recipient, so that he or she can be included in the spiritual remembrances indicated in the card. The slip also provides the opportunity for the donor to request additional cards. In the case of seasonal cards which will be sent immediately or very soon, the enrollment and reorder functions may be included on the main response device of the package, saving the need for separate slips.

Closed face


A closed face envelope is a mailing envelope that does not have a window in the front.

Coated stock


A type of paper which is treated to make it look and feel smooth to the touch.  Coated stock is often used in greeting cards.

Code number


A code number is placed on many pieces in a mailing, in an unobtrusive position near the bottom of the piece. This allows the piece to be rapidly identified as to which mailing it was included in, and in which year it was produced.

Companionate envelope


A companionate envelope accompanies each greeting or enrollment card included in a package. The donor may use it to send the card to the intended recipient. Companionate envelopes may be white, or may be colored appropriately for seasonal cards.

Contemporary donor


A contemporary donor is someone who has donated to the organization or cause in the recent past. Contemporary donors are proven to be actively interested and willing to give, and are the most likely to make repeat gifts.



Copy refers to the words used in a fundraising package, including the letter, outside envelope, response device, greeting cards, etc.



The cost of a mailing includes the expense of printing and production, postage, and any extra items which are included.  The cost is subtracted from the gross income to determine the net income of the mailing.




De-duplication is the process of removing duplicate names and addresses from a mailing list. This reduces the cost of mailing and ensures that prospective donors will not receive multiple copies of the same mailing.



Design refers to the visual graphics which can be found in a package. Graphics are especially important on the outside envelope, greeting cards, leave-behind pieces, and response devices.

Donor package


A donor package is a mailing sent to a person who has already given a donation in the past. The purpose of a donor package is to generate revenue and maintain the donor’s interest and involvement. This is in contrast to an acquisition package, in which the main goals are to introduce the organization or cause to new potential donors, and add new donors to the mailing list.


E-mail blast


An e-mail blast is an e-mail message sent out to all or some donors whose e-mail addresses are on file. E-mail blasts may be sent out before a physical mailing is sent, so that the donor will know to look for the mailing. It can also be sent out after a physical mailing to remind the donor to respond. If possible, an e-mail blast should include links allowing the recipient to respond via the Internet, if desired.



Embossing is a method of creating a decorative raised area on the surface of a greeting or enrollment card, often corresponding to a graphical element. Embossing tends to increase the perceived value of the card in the mind of the donor and recipient.

Enrollment card


An enrollment card is a type of greeting card which announces to the recipient that he or she has been enrolled in a society or group which will provide some spiritual benefit to him or her; e.g., a Society of Prayer which ensures that the enrollee will be regularly remembered in prayer, perpetually or for an extended period of time.




Foil is a shiny colored or metallic surface which can be placed on the front of a greeting card to highlight graphical elements. Like embossing, it creates a higher perception of value for the card.

Four-color process


All mailing elements are printed in up to 4 colors: cyan, magenta, yellow, and key (or black). Those four can be mixed together to create a variety of other colors. The number of colors used on a piece is indicated by two digits separated by a slash, with the first digit representing the colors on the front side and the second the colors on the back side. Therefore, 2/1 (“two over one”) means 2 colors on side 1 and one color on side 2, while 4/4 (‘four over four”) means full color on both sides.



A freemium or “free premium” is a merchandise item that is placed into a mailing as a free gift for the prospective donor, without the donor having to make a gift beforehand. They are intended to encourage a gift from donors who value the “freemium.”


Gift array


A gift array is a series of suggested amounts for the donor to choose from when he or she makes a gift. It is hoped that the donor will “round up” an intended gift to the next higher option presented. A gift array should include an “Other amount” option. Some organizations prefer to simply let the donor fill in the amount they wish to give.

Gift reply folder/slip


This is the piece in a mailing that the prospective donor uses to reply. It can be used to make a financial gift, to send prayerful intentions, request premium items, and for other purposes. Also called an “intention folder/slip.”

Greeting card


Greeting cards may be seasonal (tied to a specific holiday or event), or may be suitable for use at any time. They are included for free in the mailing, with the donor encouraged to make an offering when he or she sends them to the recipient. A greeting card can include a “spiritual remembrance,” or series of Masses or devotions that the card recipient will be remembered in.

Gross income


Gross income is the total amount of revenue generated by a mailing before the cost is factored in.




The indicia is a small square which appears in the upper right-hand corner of an outside envelope, and includes information about the sender’s mailing permit. This enables the post office to process and send the mail. An actual postage stamp may be placed on the envelope in lieu of the indicia; this is often done for mailings being sent to the most generous donors in order to create a personal touch.


Job number


Each mailing receives a specific number that differentiates it from other mailings. At CMA, job numbers consist of a 2 or 3 letter abbreviation of the client organization’s name, followed by a sequential number.

Landing page


A landing page is a page on the client’s website where potential donors are directed by a link in an e-mail. The landing page is usually a truncated form of a mailing, which allows users to send their prayerful intentions, request cards and premiums, and make a gift.

Lapsed donor


A lapsed donor is one who donated to the organization or cause in the past, but has not done so recently. Mailings may periodically be sent to lapsed donors in an effort to “re-activate” them.



A leave-behind is a useful item which is included in a mailing for the donor to keep, rather than return (like a gift reply folder) or send on to someone else (like a greeting card). These can include things like holy cards, bookmarks, prayer folders, or pocket calendars. A leave-behind makes the potential donor feel that he or she has received something that warrants a donation.



The letter is the piece in a mailing that addresses the donor personally and directly. The letter creates rapport with the donor, and informs him or her about the purpose of the mailing. It invites the donor to send in prayerful intentions, make a financial offering, and use any greeting cards or similar items that may be included in the mailing.


Mail house


A mail house is a company that CMA contracts with to send out mass mailings.

Mailing list


The audience for each mailing is selected from one or more mailing lists. These are lists of names and addresses that are either assembled by the client from those who have responded to past mailings, or (in the case of acquisition mailings) have been assembled by other organizations. Mailing lists often have particular demographics, or represent particular interest groups, making them more or less appropriate for use with a specific client or mailing.




A newsletter is a periodic mailing to inform donors of the good work the organization or cause is performing. This creates a sense of accountability and also serves to make the mission more personal for the donor. Newsletters can also be used to request donations and to offer premiums.




Each mailing is detailed in an outline, which lists the target dates for production and mailing, breaks down the intended audience, and lists the details of each piece that will be included in the mailing. It also lists all spiritual remembrances, premiums, and acknowledgment pieces to be used with the job. A finalized outline that has been approved by the client is referred to as a “Wall Copy.”

Outside envelope


This is the envelope in which the mailing is contained. Its graphics and copy are designed to make the package stand out in the mailbox, and to motivate the donor to open it. An outside envelope can be a “window envelope” (with an opening through which the donor’s address is visible) or a “closed face” envelope with no window, and the address printed on the outside.




A fundraising package sent to donors in the mail always includes an outside envelope, a letter, a response device which allows the donor to reply and make a gift, and a return envelope. It can also include greeting or enrollment cards, reorder/enrollment slips to accompany the cards, companionate envelopes, leave-behind items, and buckslips.



A letter sent to an existing donor can be personalized with the donor’s own name, rather than a generic greeting. This adds a more personal touch to the mailing, and is often done with donors who have made large, or many, gifts in the past. Acknowledgment letters should always be personalized.

Planned giving


Planned giving refers to the options a donor has to make a gift apart from simply responding to mailings. This includes such things as wills and bequests, gifts of real property, or recurring pledged gifts. These can result in very significant revenue for the organization or cause. A Planned Giving Folder is a piece which can be sent to donors explaining these options. Click here for more on Planned Giving.



A premium is a piece of merchandise that is offered in a mailing for the donor to request when he or she makes a financial offering. Each premium has a “suggested offering” amount listed. Premiums serve to increase the average amount of donations, as donors raise their gift amounts to meet the suggested offering.

Print house


A print house is a company that contracts with CMA to physically print the materials for each mailing.

Privacy statement


A privacy statement assures the potential donor that his or her name and personal information will not be sold or shared with other organizations without the donor’s permission. A privacy statement should appear at least once in each mailing.



A proof is a printed sample of each piece in a mailing, sent by the print house to CMA. Each proof is examined by the CMA creative staff to make sure that the copy, graphics, sizes and colors are correct and that the piece is ready to be printed in bulk.



Each item in a mailing is proofread at least three times: at the raw copy stage, at the designed stage, and at the printed stage in the form of a printer’s proof. Any mistakes in copy or design can therefore be caught and corrected before being mailed to the donors.


QR code


A Quick Response (QR) code is a small square composed of what appears to be random dots. When read by a smartphone, the QR code directs the phone’s web browser to a specific web site. It is a fast and effective way to direct people to a site without requiring them to manually type an address into a web browser.


Response rate


The response rate is the percentage of people who received the mailing that responded to it. In addition to average gift amount and return on investment, it is one of the main statistics for gauging the success of a mailing.

Return Envelope


A pre-addressed, postage paid return envelope is included with each mailing, which allows the donor to send his or her prayerful intentions, premium requests, and check or payment information for a financial offering.

Return on investment


Return on investment (ROI) is one statistic that is used to measure the success of a mailing. It is a percentage that expresses the benefit of the mailing against the cost. A higher the percentage, the more successful the mailing.


Seasonal mailing


A seasonal mailing is one which is tied to a specific holiday.  Seasonal mailings usually include greeting cards.



A self-mailer is an addressing piece that can be placed directly in the mail without the necessity of an outside envelope or any other pieces.

Social media


Social media refers to a number of Internet-based services which allow a person or organization to communicate regularly with other users who have chosen to “like” or “friend” that person or organization’s page. For a non-profit or charitable organization, it can be a valuable tool for keeping donors, supporters, and potential donors informed and allowing for quick and easy interactive communication. The most popular social media platforms are Facebook and Twitter.

Spiritual remembrances


To motivate a potential donor to respond to a mailing, a religious organization usually offers spiritual remembrances:  Masses, prayers, or other devotions that the donor can be included in if he or she responds by sending in prayerful intentions, hopefully along with a financial offering.

Straight appeal


A straight appeal is a mailing which asks for donations for a specific cause or to cover a specific expense.  A straight appeal does not include items such as greeting cards or premiums, but simply an appeal to the donor’s sense of charity and support for the organization.  Types of straight appeal include an Annual Appeal, which is sent out once per year as a general fundraiser, or an Emergency Appeal, which asks donors to help cover an important, often unexpected expense.

Suggested offering


Premium items and enrollment cards usually have a suggested offering -- a specific amount that the donor is requested to send in exchange for using the card or requesting the premium.  Due to the rules of non-profit fundraising, a suggested offering cannot be mandatory and commercial terms such as “buy” or “price” should not be used.



A sweepstakes mailing encourages a donor to participate in a drawing by which he or she may win a set prize or prizes.  He or she is also encouraged to send a financial offering, although this cannot be a requirement for participation in the sweepstakes.


Test package


Test packages are used to determine whether a specific change or set of changes to a mailing will influence the results in a positive or negative way.  Some recipients of the mailing receive a “control package” (i.e., the usual package) and some receive a test package in which the changes have been made.  The results of the two packages are tracked separately and a determination is later made as to which performed better.  The better-performing package is then used as the template for future mailings.