As a missionary, you generally want your prayer letters to look as personal as possible. You'll want to avoid having them look like corporate mail, or even mail from your ministry's headquarters.
We strive to be an invisible part of the mailing process for you – we don't include our name or any identifying marks on your letter or envelopes (unless we're handling your returned mail), and we print each letter and envelope individually, rather than photocopying anything.
As you work on your letter and mailing list, there are also several steps you can take to give your letters a more personal feel.
This one is easy to overlook, but take some time to go over your address list and ensure that you're using people's names in the same way that you would address them. This is particularly important if you're getting a list of donors from your ministry – they'll often be copying a formal version of the person's name from a donation check.
Here are some steps to take as you work on your mailing list:
Use regular title case, rather than capitalizing the entire address.
Remove middle initials, unless the recipient commonly uses theirs. If the recipient uses their middle name instead of their first name, you'll probably want to do the same when addressing them.
Choose the appropriate level of formality, based on your relationship with each recipient. For some people, you may choose to address the envelope "Mr. and Mrs. John Smith". For others, "John and Mary Smith" would be more appropriate. There's no rule saying that you have to use the same form for every recipient.
For family members, you may choose to include their name as "Uncle John and Aunt Mary" on the envelope. The post office has no problem with this, as long as the address is correct.
For US addresses, just use the five-digit zip code, without the extra four digits. (Our software typically removes the last four digits automatically.)
When you send us a mailing list, we do some address processing for you as well, but always in such a way as to make the post office happy without dehumanizing the address.
Unless you request otherwise, we use regular first-class stamps on every envelope, and this is built into our prices. Metered, imprinted, and bulk-rate postage makes your letter look like it's coming from a company, so we will generally try to talk you out of using these unless you're sending mail on behalf of your organization.
You can see our in-stock first-class stamp on the postage page. We can also use the first-class stamp of your choice for an extra $0.10/letter (this covers the extra labor involved with stamping your letters by hand rather than using our equipment).
Visit usps.com to see which stamps are currently available.
We recommend including a scanned signature in your letter for an added personal touch. It's not quite the same as signing them yourself by hand (which we recommend doing for end-of-year appeals if it's feasible), but it's better than just typing your name.
If you don't have easy access to a scanner, you can send us a sheet of paper with your signature, and we'll scan it for you:
Take a white sheet of paper, and sign it several times. You can use different pen colors for each signature, and can include a few variations on your name (e.g. if you're married, include both names together, then each name separately).
Fold the paper carefully, ensuring that your signatures don't get creased.
Include a blank page or two on either side of the signature page to help keep the sheet from getting damaged in the mail.
Send the signatures to us (our contact page has our address).
For special mailings such as end-of-year appeals, you may want to sign some or all of your letters by hand, and include hand-written notes.
This doesn't mean that you have to do the entire mailing yourself! We can prepare the rest of the mailing for you, then send everything to you so that all you have to do is sign the letters, seal the envelopes, and drop them in the mail.
When you place your order, choose the "Ship to Me" option, and you'll be able to choose which steps you want us to do for you. We'll do as much or as little of the mailing as you'd like.
For the greatest personalization, you can customize each letter with a greeting (e.g. "Dear Mr. Smith"), along with one or more other personalized sections.
Please see our mail merge information page for more details.