I have to tell you something you might not want to hear.

An email address doesn’t mean someone is a hot donor prospect. At least half of those names you buy are probably worth absolutely nothing in terms of future donor conversion.

But how can non profits separate donor prospect email wheat from the donor dud email chaff before paying for that chaff? We believe a key to the puzzle is creating campaigns that target the right kind of donor prospects — those prospects who are so aligned with your work and your approach that they are pre-primed for donor conversion.

In close partnership with our clients Margaret Cohen and Jyoti Kulangara at Population Services International, Mark and I developed a sweepstakes campaign that only people with a real love for international development would get excited about — a paid trip to Washington D.C. for an International Development Boot Camp, a day-long adventure designed for smart global citizens.

The winner got a trip to DC and met with PSI staff and other development experts to go deep into geeky development topics like social franchising, corporate partnerships and how PSI is approaching international development differently. (See a wrap up blog post from winner Jennifer Iacovelli Barbour).

The campaign targeted a PSI donor archetype called effective altruists — a growing movement of donors who aim to do the most good with their money by giving to groups who have the most impact.

This movement has been championed by noted ethicist Peter Singer and he has helped increase PSI’s profile with this target group.

The campaign built on this momentum and was designed to attract the right kind of people — the people who would be most likely to give to PSI’s brainy approach.

Check out the write up of the campaign in the Chronicle of Philanthropy.