Enlisting Help to Find a Missing Person

Searching for a loved one is a group effort. People want to help, so let them.

Delegate

Lots of people want to help, but some have specialized skills (e.g. design, writing etc). Use volunteers wisely so that not one specialized volunteer gets burnt out. Here’s some direction to give those who want to help:

  • Share the poster across social media (e.g. ask celebrities to retweet) – public attention keeps pressure on police and maintains media interest.
  • Bring food, run errands.
  • Door knock in the area they were last seen and areas of significance (e.g. favorite park).
  • Print and display posters (Office Depot and local MPs can print for free).
  • Contact hospitals, public transport, crisis accommodation, homelessness services etc. asking recipients to forward it on to their networks and display the poster. See: Contacts
  • Ask people to update their email signature to include information about your missing loved one.

When people tell you a new ideas about how to expand the campaign, encourage them to run with it. You will have limited time and energy, so the more people that can help the better.

Keeping your volunteers in the loop will help maintain momentum and promote sharing the load. Social media can be an efficient way to do this.

Spread the word

Try not to be disheartened when people don’t stick to a commitment. As genuine as a close friend or volunteer’s desire to help is, their world hasn’t stopped like yours has.

Posters

As long as someone is still missing, encourage people who want to help to spread the awareness across social media and put up posters in public places. See: Posters

Appeals

A well-connected individual is invaluable when searching for a loved one. It might be worth writing a letter (or personalized email) to a local figure or organization to assist in your search.

Writing a letter

It’s a good idea to send personal letters (appeals for help) to organizations or associations who may be able to help find your missing person, e.g. either by passing on your missing person’s picture or information to their networks, or displaying the missing person poster.
Organizations / people you could send a letter to could include:

  • State and federal MPs
  • Local figures / celebrities
  • Homeless shelters
  • Country Women’s Associations
  • RSL clubs
  • Fruit picking employers
  • Trucking companies
  • Hare Krishna groups
  • Salvation Army locations
  • Bushwalking clubs

Many of the groups listed are included on the Contacts page of the Missing Persons Guide.
An example and template for a letter can also be found in the Guide, and/or you may have a friend or family member who can help. It’s a good idea to get another person to read the letter before you send it.
Tips:

  • Ask for help with your mailout – e.g. if you want to send a letter to all Texas homeless shelters, ask someone to help you find the contact details to save time (there may be many shelters and many letters to send)
  • Email the letter wherever possible – it is faster and easier
  • Send a copy of the poster with your letters, or include the poster as an attachment if sending an email
  • Always include the link to the Facebook page / Twitter page / or website (if applicable) in your letter
  • Write in short paragraphs and simple sentences
  • Make sure you are clear in what you are asking the reader to do e.g. to display the poster in their window / to pass the information of your missing person on to their networks etc.
  • Think about how far you want to send your letter e.g. do you want to send it to RSL clubs in your local area, your state, or the whole country
  • People who receive your letter may respond and offer condolences, or offer their help or support

Example Letter

Dear Sir / Madam

Re: Appeal to farmers from family of missing Houston man
I am writing on behalf of the family of missing man Daniel Gonzalez both to raise awareness of the matter and to seek your assistance.
Daniel, 24, disappeared on July 15 2021 from his parents’ home in Houston, Texas and has not been heard from or accessed his bank accounts since. Daniel requires medication, and without it his family is very concerned for his welfare.

Daniel’s family believe he may have taken refuge on a large property somewhere in regional Texas and are appealing to farmers to check their properties and any unused sheds or cottages in their area for signs of someone taking shelter.

I am writing to you in the hope that you might distribute this information to your networks, and ask your members in particular to check their properties for Daniel.

I have enclosed a copy of our regional media release which contains further details about Daniel and his disappearance.

I have also included some posters of Daniel should you be able to display or distribute them in your organization. If you wish to print more posters, they can be found here: www.danielcomehome.com.

If you require any additional information please visit www.dancomehome.com, www.facebook.com/danielcomehome, www.twitter.com/@Dan4Home, or contact me on [insert contact number].

Yours sincerely

This can be useful if you consider hosting a public event (could be virtual, like a PR campaign, or a real-life fundraiser, like a fun run). See: Longer term ideas

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