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Look For Connection, Not Cash, in Prospective Direct Mail Donors If Writing Donation Request Letters

Alan Sharpe

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Recently, someone asked me how they should begin a fundraising letter.

"We are in a season of taking the ministry international and also growing and empowering the ministries within, " they said. “I would like to draft up a professional letter, that will go out to major corporations and empowered people, asking for donations, and for it in return be a tax write off! My goal is to mail/email a donation letter to different large companies and multi-millionaires example Oprah Winfrey, Donald Trump. I'm not sure at all as to how to even begin the letter. Please help!"

I cannot give any helpful advice on how to begin a letter like that because a letter like that shouldn't be started.

The most important quality to look for in a potential direct mail donor is a connection with your cause. You shouldn't be looking for millionaires, or billionaires.

Direct mail fundraising works by soliciting small gifts from lots of people regularly. Even retired folks can give you a small gift.

Look for connection, not capacity. Donald Trump has capacity. But does he have any connection with an obscure charity with a narrow case for support that wants him to make a donation because of the tax write off? Not likely.

Look for people who have connection, not just cash. A widower on a pension who has been touched by your ministry is a better candidate for a direct mail donation than a millionaire who has no clue what you do, or where you do it, or why. An individual who lives around the corner and believes in you is a better bet for a direct mail gift than an employee in a multinational corporation headquartered in another state who manages corporate donations but doesn't know you from Eve.

Look for friends, not funds.

Get more help in my new book These tips are taken from my new, 270-page book, Mail Superiority: How to Run a Profitable Annual Direct Mail Fundraising Program. Available for immediate download, an, in a few weeks, as a paperback. Details at

About the author
Alan Sharpe publishes Direct Mail Fundraising Today, the free, weekly email newsletter that helps non-profit organizations raise funds, build relationships and retain loyal donors. Alan is the author of Breakthrough Fundraising Letters and 25 handbooks on direct mail fundraising. Alan is also a speaker and workshop leader who delivers public seminars and teleseminars on direct mail fundraising. Sign up for Alan's newsletter at

© 2008 Alan Sharpe.


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