The Darüşşafaka Society: a unique offer for special donors

Exhibited by
Gunes Yildirim
March 17, 2016
Medium of Communication
Direct mail, face to face and selected other media
Target Audience
Individuals, legacy donors
Type of Charity
Children, education
Country of Origin
Date of first appearance

SOFII’s view

A campaign that is still attracting as much attention from fundraisers and donors as it did at its inception in 1997, but why? Well, it’s pretty clever. Combining the best of legacy and high value fundraising with a masterclass in supporter care – there is a lot we can learn from Turkey’s Darüşşafaka Society. 

Summary / objectives

The Darüşşafaka Society was founded in 1863 with an aim of providing opportunities and education for needy, talented children who had lost their father or mother; 153 years later, the Society is well-respected throughout Turkey. Their main objective remains much the same – to raise enough money to run Darüşşafaka Schools and support students who have lost one or both their parents.

The schools accept students at the age of 10 and the Darüşşafaka Society provides a full scholarship and boarding. Each child is given an opportunity for a world-class education as they embark on a new life as self-confident, thinking, inquiring and curious individuals who feels a sense of responsibility within their community. In addition to covering a student’s school fees, the Society looks after each child’s daily needs such as clothing, accommodation, food and health services.

However, the Darüşşafaka Society receives no state funding. They knew they needed a new way to help raise more funds for the schools and the students. Legacies were already an important source of income, so the Society came up with a truly awe-inspiring idea that would not only help care for the children – but look after their cherished donors too.


As the oldest NGO in Turkey, the Darüşşafaka Society was fortunate in that many Turkish people had already chosen to remember the organisation in their will.

But the Society weren’t only concerned with their own fundraising, because their elderly donors faced challenges of their own. While the schools were looking after the children so well – there were few options for their donors in old age. With a lack of good quality nursing homes in Turkey, the Society’s elderly supporters needed health care, friendship, community and a place to call their own.

As a way to support their donors and meet their own need for funding, the Darüşşafaka Society came up with the concept of ‘residences for donors’. They made a plan to build homes for their donors and offer these residences in exchange for a fixed donation. 

Rather than call the homes a ‘nursing home’ they are called a ‘residence’, which means ‘luxury home’ in Turkey. When marketing these prestigious residences, the Society made a connection between the donors and the beneficiaries by developing a slogan that was inspiring and fitting - ‘A new home for you, a new future for our children’.

Creator / originator

Darüşşafaka Cemiyeti

Special characteristics

So how does this unique concept work in practice?

Donors over the age of 65 can live in one of the residences. All they need to do is donate a single gift of approximately 500,000 USD. In exchange for this gift of cash or immovable assets (such as real estate or land), the Society provides the donors with a home for life and many extra benefits.

In the residences, the donors have their own bedroom and they eat healthy food. They participate in sports, social activities and are offered full life insurance. There is a 24-hour health service and an intensive care unit, to be used when needed.

But most importantly, the donors become part of the Darüşşafaka family. They feel secure in their new home. The Darüşşafaka community respects them as elders of the family and all the students are almost like grandchildren to the donors. They follow the successes of the children, and they feel proud of the accomplishments they make.


Through special appeals, the annual report and primarily word of mouth – the Society looked for donors who were reaching an age when they may want more security in their retirement. They offered them a place in one of the residences and the results speak for themselves. It has been a hugely successful campaign.

There has been a large increase in the number of major donations and legacies. The Society now runs four residence buildings, which are a lifelong home to 481 donors. A total of 21 of these residents were new donors in 2015, meaning that despite the campaign starting in 1997 – the momentum is great.

And perhaps best of all, 30 per cent of residents also became legacy donors at the same time. These special donors not only gave a one-off gift of 500,000 USD – they also pledged to help the children and the schools when they pass away.

Influence / impact

The popularity of the scheme is such that the Society has a waiting list of donors hoping to secure a space in one of the residence homes. Even donors who are not yet 65 often want to make their gift earlier and ensure they can live in this very special home when they reach retirement age.

This is, of course, testament to the care and attention each donor is given in return for their incredible generosity. It’s a true win-win situation for everyone involved. The children are educated, the donors have a home for life and the Society can continue their good work thanks to the funds they raise. What a wonderful legacy – it’s no wonder Turkish people are lining up to support such a brilliant charity and their brilliant concept. 

This idea was presented during SOFII’s IWITOT session at the International Fundraising Congress in October 2015.

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The Darüşşafaka Society is one of Turkey’s oldest and most well-respected charities.
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Darüşşafaka Schools support students who have lost one or both their parents, giving them a chance for a better life and brighter future.
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The Society decided to raise funds by offering donors a place in their ‘residences’. Promotional materials like this used the strapline, ‘A new home for you, a new future for our children’.
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The Society decided to raise funds by offering donors a place in their ‘residences’. Promotional materials like this used the strapline, ‘A new home for you, a new future for our children’.
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Thanks to the success of this campaign, the children receive an excellent education and the donors have a wonderful home for life.