If you’re putting together a direct-mail campaign, you might hear the term “lift note” in the course of planning and strategy. In case you’re unfamiliar with the ins and outs of this mail tactic, here’s a quick primer.


A lift note is a short letter that precedes the main letter. Usually the note comes from someone other than the main letter’s author and is the first thing the reader sees when they open the outside envelope. The primary objective of a lift note is to “hook” the recipient and encourage them to read the rest of the package’s contents. However, the note’s ultimate goal is to deepen the reader’s connection to the organization and give a donation.


There are several different approaches to lift notes. These are the most common:

As an example, a faith-based organization might include a note from a leader in the religious space that organization operates in. The recipient might recognize the name of the lift-note signer, who will note the organization’s importance and then ask the reader to continue on and read the president’s letter.

An example here might be an addiction recovery center sharing a note from someone who benefited from the center’s services telling donors how the center helped them—“thanks to your support,” it should read—in order to engage the donor and get them interested in reading the actual letter.


A good copywriter can capture the lift note signer’s voice and compose a couple short paragraphs that the signer can either approve for print or use as an example for their own writing.  It’s worth noting that ghostwritten copy is the norm within the direct-mail world because it allows for a relatively quick turnaround, which will help you keep to your production schedule.

If the note is more personal, writing out the copy by hand can prove particularly effective: it lends an element of authenticity and is more likely to build an emotional connection with the reader than typed text.

Finally, smaller sized monarch (executive) paper can make the note stand out from the rest of the package. Typically the lift note won’t use the organization’s letterhead, but it should still match the design and branding of the whole package.

In short, a solid lift note can make an excellent addition to your direct mail package because it builds a relationship with your readers—and relationships are at the heart of effective fundraising.