Where to Look for New Donors for Your Fundraising Letter Appeals


Have you ever studied your best donors and wished you could clone them all? Maybe you can, with a bit of creative thinking.

1. Friends of current supporters

The first place to look is friends, family and colleagues of your current supporters. The odds are good that your most generous and faithful donors have friends or co-workers or family members who will want to support your cause as well.

2. Clients

Another source of new donors is your clients, the people that your organization serves. Naturally, if your clients are homeless or poor, they are not prospects for donor appeal letters. But if your clients are former hospital patients, or university alumni, or retired folks, then you have a valuable source of potential supporters. These people already know your mission, who you serve and how you help them.

3. Volunteers

Another group of individuals that knows all about your organization is your volunteers. They not only know you, they believe in you. That's why they give you their time and talents. Now you can ask them to give their treasure as well.

4. Staff

One advantage of asking your staff for donations is that you know two things about them. You know that they know your case for support. And you know that they have money. So send them an appeal letter. Or better yet, ask them to join your monthly giving program, with their gift coming right out of their pay each payday.

5. Peer groups

One organization I have written fundraising letters for is Doctors Without Borders. They are a group of volunteer doctors and nurses who deliver emergency medical care in places where no medical infrastructure exists, usually because of war or natural disasters. In one acquisition campaign that I worked on, Doctors Without Borders sent acquisition letters to two peer groups-doctors and pharmacists. They reasoned that these two groups of medical practitioners would identify closely with the mission of Doctors Without Borders, even if they were not able or inclined to volunteer overseas.

Does your organization have a professional peer group that is a natural source of donors? Send them a well-crafted appeal letter that speaks to them as peers and is signed by a peer, and see what happens.

6. Affinity groups

Is your not-for-profit affiliated with a particular religious group, ethnic group or service organization? Then you have a ready-made source of new supporters, provided that they also meet your other criteria for suitable donors. If you are an evangelical Christian, for example, as I am, then you can look to fellow evangelicals for donations. If you are Italian-American and you live in Little Italy (in New York City), then you have a large group of folks whom you can approach for funds. If you are a member of Rotary International, your fellow members are a source of new support.

© 2005 Sharpe Copy Inc. You may reprint this article online and in print provided the links remain live and the content remains unaltered (including the "About the author" message).

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