Blog Series: Level-Up Your Fundraising, Direct Mail Audience

Welcome to part 3 of our blog series, "Level-Up Your Fundraising."

We've put together this 11 part series to help you maximize your fundraising revenue. These tips span the most common strategies used by organizations to raise money to support their work and apply to nearly every organization, large or small.

If you missed part 2 which is all about your website, you can view it here

Part 3: When Sending Direct Mail, Write for the “10 Second Club”

One of the most fundamental aspects to successful direct mail fundraising is to understand your audience. You need to step into the shoes of your intended mail recipients and look at it from their perspective – how do they feel about mail they receive?

Most people are busy. They work, they raise a family, they have community obligations, bills to pay, things to do. They don’t have a ton of time to read your letter. In fact, most people are constantly on the lookout for junk mail… meaning that when they pick up their mail, most people sort through it quickly to see what is important and what isn’t, often on their way to the trash can to throw out or recycle those items that they don’t intend to read. Sadly, most people go through their mail assuming that the vast majority of it will be junk.

What does this mean for your nonprofit? It means that you need to design your mail with this fact in mind. Remember that when it comes to your direct mail, you are basically designing for three distinct audiences:

The 10 Second Club

The vast majority of readers fall into this category. These are the folks that look at your piece and walk it to the trash can – they have your piece in their hands for approximately 10 seconds.

The Skimmers

A far smaller number of readers are skimmers – people who look through your mail piece on the way to the trash can, reading headlines, and looking at pictures. They will generally have your piece in their hands for 20-30 seconds, maybe more if something catches their eye (hint!) These people are usually somewhat interested in your mission, and thus more likely to donate, or are just people who like to skim everything before they throw it out so as to not miss anything.

The Readers

Few and far between, these people actually take the time to read your mail piece. They generally will look through your piece for 1-2 minutes, reading the headlines, and drilling down into the text. These people are either very interested in your particular issue or nonprofit, or tend to be older, retired folks who enjoy receiving and reading direct mail.


The key is to design your direct mail with the knowledge that most people will hold it in their hands for 30 seconds or less… the key is to use tried and true methods to make your mail more successful and memorable – to design fundraising direct mail that works.


This is another place where a solid CRM comes into play- when you have a means to track the interests of your donors, you can be sure to target your audience with the messaging they care about most. Check out our video on Analytical Marketing to see how StratusLIVE customers can segment their different donor audiences with just a few clicks of the mouse.

Posted by Alyssa Pacheco

Alyssa Pacheco is a former Digital Marketing Manager, Nonprofit Solutions at StratusLIVE. She has three years of marketing and communications experience within the technology sector, along with four years of direct nonprofit fundraising experience. “I genuinely enjoy sharing the significant benefits that technology plays for nonprofit organizations in their social good efforts.”