Oxfam Canada’s ‘threads of change’ campaign


Oxfam’s donors messages of hope.

Oxfam’s donors messages of hope.

Direct mail pack.

Oxfam - threads of change - letter 1.  Oxfam - threads of change - letter 2

Click on the images to enlarge or view the direct mail pack in PDF form here

Donors were asked to use this square to send their message of hope. 


More case studies from Oxfam

SOFII's view

A charming idea that not only raised much-needed funds for Oxfam, but also gave donors the chance to do more than just send money. By sending in hundreds of squares they were declaring that they wanted to become even more involved with the charity they love. 

Medium of communication:
Direct mail.

Type of charity:
International relief/development.

Target audience:

Country of origin:


Harvey McKinnon Associates

Name of exhibitor:
Lynne Boardman, managing director, Harvey McKinnon Associates.

Date of first appearance:

To test a new creative to lift results to Oxfam’s traditional end-of-the year – holiday – campaign, which had been slowly declining.


It’s hard for individuals to feel they can have an impact on a huge global problem like poverty. Harvey McKinnon Associates developed a mail pack for Oxfam that included an ethically sourced piece of quilt. They asked donors to write a message of hope to the people around the world that Oxfam works with and to send it back with their donations.

The message was that – like small pieces of cloth sewn together to make a warm, protective blanket – their donations, along with those of many others, could help Oxfam create great change.

The mailing was followed up with an email reminder. The quilt campaign and a report on how well it went were featured in two donor newsletters. 


Special Characteristics:

The quilt.


A member of staff at Harvey McKinnon Associates (HMA) in Vancouver volunteered to sew the quilt together. The original quilt is held at Oxfam’s office in Ottawa. In November, HMA borrowed it to display at the Association of Fundraising Congress in Toronto where they also distributed squares to delegates and asked them to write a message of hope for the people of the Philippines after the typhoon. There are now enough squares to make at least two new quilts. 

The quilt was also displayed at a major donor event during Oxfam’s gender justice summit in Ottawa.

Oxfam will be sending the existing quilt to a project in Ethiopia and then it will travel around the world to various other projects. The intention is that it will give hope to Oxfam’s partners and clients, to know that people in Canada are supporting and thinking of them. It is hoped that Oxfam staff will be able to take photos and videos that can be shared with Oxfam donors online and in follow-up newsletters.


The mailing beat its target gross income by 50 per cent and last year’s gross income by 40 per cent. 


Very inexpensive package

We did a similar direct mail piece this summer, and the cost of the package was extremely inexpensive (almost as inexpensive as a straight letter appeal). The cost was less then a dollar per name. In terms of gross revenue we made $3.20 per name. This was double what we make last summer (with a straight letter appeal). We received over 1,500 responses, and nearly everyone included their quilt square. There was alot of sewing for our 3 volunteers who agreed to patch the quilt together. It was truely remarkable to see our community enbrace our charity and want to get involved.

(submitted by HMA, Vancouver)

A very nice idea! But I

A very nice idea! But I wonder how much the lettershop expenses were increased by adding the swatch of fabric? I cannot image it would be inserted well by a machine, but would have to be done by hand. I noted the results were only in terms of gross income which gives a good but incomplete picture. But an interesting idea.

Your question about costs and net income

Hi Anonymous, great question about the cost of the pack and the net income. Net's what it's all about, right? In fact, the cost of the cloth and insertion only added about 5 cents per pack to the pack that was mailed previously. Well worth it in light of results. Net income was up significantly too. Thanks for asking!

(submitted by HMA, Vancouver)

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