Where Can You Find Your Future Major Donors?

As this short blog post from Future Fundraising Now reminds us, most major donor start out as donors via direct mail or online giving.

In other words, you don’t need to go to a big gala or the local country club to find your future major donors…they are already in your database.

For camps, this is especially true. Former campers and staff (and their parents and grandparents) have an emotional connection to camp that can’t be replicated by many other organizations.

So…how can camps cultivate these future major donors?

As we discuss in our Data2Donors program, you must first ensure all of these passionate fans are in your database before you can adequately cultivate relationships with them.

How do you get these prospects in your database with up to date contact information? Three simple (but time-intensive) steps:
  1. Prioritize the effort of entering names from old camp rosters and yearbooks into your database - see the video at the bottom of this page about how Camp Solomon Schechter benefited from this process.
  2. Enlist volunteers to help check/update contact information for long-lost alumni.
  3. Provide an easy way for alumni to update their own information on the camp website. Promote it!
Next comes cultivating these relationships. Keep in mind the 5 I’s of cultivation:
  1. Identify: Look in your newly expanded donor database!
  2. Inform: Communicate with them regularly about camp and their camp friends. Provide relevant content and value to each alum
  3. Interest: Reach out and listen. Find out about their passions. Are they interested in increasing their commitment to camp?
  4. Involve: Ask for their advice. Provide opportunities to volunteer at camp.
  5. Invest: By developing the relationship over time, prospects are likely to continue their commitment to camp with a donation.
Bottom Line: Your future major donors are probably already in your database - former campers, staff, parents, and grandparents. Engage them and listen to them to build life-long relationships.

Written by Kevin Martone. Kevin is the Technology Program Manager with JCamp 180. His focus area is in applying technology (database management, communications) to support fundraising and outreach efforts. Kevin leads JTEC (JCamp 180 Training in Effective Communications) and co-leads Data2Donors, a program to help camps prioritize their database for improved Alumni outreach and fundraising.

Who we are: JCamp 180 is a program of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation (HGF). Our goal is to significantly enhance the long-term effectiveness of nonprofit Jewish camps in North America. To meet this goal, we provide affiliated Jewish camps with consulting services, annual conferences, shared resources, professional development, and matching grant opportunities. Find more at