The Zim­bab­we Association’s emer­gency appeal

Exhibited by
Lyndall Stein.
November 26, 2011
Medium of Communication
Direct mail.
Target Audience
Type of Charity
Human rights & civil liberties.
Country of Origin
Date of first appearance

SOFII’s view

We all know that we should be writing real letters to real people, yet so often letters from charities follow such strict formulae that they become, well, letters asking for money that nobody in 'real' life would send to a friend. This one is different. Yes, it is long and there is a PS, but other 'rules' have been ignored. This really is a letter to friends asking them to help another friend in a desperate position. And the professional fundraisers rallied around their friend and raised a lot of money in a short space of time. Were they pleased to get a 'real' letter?

Summary / objectives

The Zimbabwe Association was in dire straits. They had applied for a grant but time was against them: they would run out of money before they heard if they were successful or not. And there was no way of hurrying that decision. They needed money to pay their most urgent expenses: volunteers' travel costs and rent for the most simple of offices.


The Zimbabwe Association is an independent charitable membership organisation providing practical and emotional support to Zimbabwean asylum seekers and refugees through a growing network of groups around the UK. The Association works with others to improve the asylum system and enhance refugee integration in the UK so that all those seeking refuge are treated fairly and humanely.

It is a non-partisan and independent organisation with no political role in Zimbabwe, although they do maintain links with groups in Zimbabwe. Members look forward to a time when it will be safe for Zimbabwean exiles to return to and rebuild their country.

Sarah Harland, who was heroically running the association, was desperately worried about the Association's finances when chance stepped in and she met Lyndall Stein, who was so moved by Sarah's story that she decided to step in.

In her words:

'I told their story and put it out though my own address book and 'primed the pump' by giving £500 myself. I did a Just Giving version and a paper version and set myself the target of raising at least 10k in a month. I also set up a fundraising advisory group for them, to help them develop a modest programme of ongoing contact with the new supporters I brought in (which included the wonderful Emma Thompson).'

Special characteristics

Lyndall Stein's very good network and excellent address book. Plus her ability to write a letter straight from the heart.

Influence / impact

The association survived and has just celebrated its tenth anniversary.


The target of £10,000 was reached in that scarily short deadline of a month. They set up their 'champions' scheme for the supporters they gained and some also agreed to take out a direct debit.


The lesson is that a good cause and a good address book can get some traction even with a tiny organisation with no professional fundraisers. It's also a good story told well.