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Direct mail showcase

Eihei Dogen fundraising letter: from 1235

Sent in the year 1235, this may be the oldest fundraising letter on record. It is also an extraordinarily competent appeal that identifies the different types of people that the writer wishes to address.

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Botton Village ‘Frances’ pack

FrancesBotton Village was a pioneer of relationship fundraising. This is fundraising direct mail as it should be – sincere, engaging, heart-warming and very compelling.

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Fund for a Free South Africa: high value mailing

overview of packageApart from its historical value this colourful, beautifully-crafted direct mail appeal package, designed to create maximum impact from a carefully targeted group.

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International Campaign for Tibet Freedom: bracelet appeal

Practical incentives are an important part of the direct mail fundraiser’s skills and this is a particularly appealing idea.

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Dr Barnardo’s Homes: four fundraising greats from the distant past

Dr Bernardo letterDr Thomas Barnardo was one of the Victorian era’s great philanthropists. These archive examples of his personal fundraising style and efforts are a unique treasure for the body of fundraising knowledge and best practice.

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Ryton Gardens: recyclable mailing

Ryton GardensRyton Garden’s famous recyclable mailing is one of the best ever examples of the benefits fundraisers can realise when they show that they really understand their donors.

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Operation Raleigh: toilet paper mailing

Truly, the best fundraising is almost invariably the most simple and most direct. This mailing also successfully shows the value of writing ‘from the field’, in a distinctive way.

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Womankind Worldwide: donor recruitment mailing

Challenging traditionThis high quality direct mail package cleverly involves donors in delivering support and practical encouragement to a real individual.

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Australian Conservation Foundation: end of year appeal

By changing the way that donors were asked for support, ACF was able to triple income and response with this mailing. It is a brilliant example of a credible, compelling and engaging direct mail piece to a warm audience.

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Amnesty International: the pen pack

Pen packAmnesty needed a powerful and effective means of recruiting new donors to their great cause. This was it. This was, as far as we know, the first ever occasion when a free pen was included in an acquisition mailing, in the UK at least. This mailing was both brilliantly successful and started a trend that led to a flood of imitators

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CPAR: ‘plant a tree in Ethiopia’ mailing

Ethiopia has to be one of the most difficult fundraising markets in the world. Yet this pack produced results that most more sophisticated fundraisers can only dream of.

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St Paul’s letter to the Corinthians

This may not be the world’s earliest ever recorded mention of fundraising but it could well be the first ever example of a fundraising director exhorting his troops to achieve their targets. Or, do you know different?

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Jesse Jackson’s bid for the White House, 1988

Jesse Jackson campaignTwenty years before the world had ever heard of Barack Obama, the Reverend Jesse Jackson was breaking new political ground with his campaign.

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Make–A–Wish Foundation: high value direct mail appeal

Make-a-wishThe innovative proposal format singles out this interesting, informative and award-winning direct mail pack for special attention on SOFII.

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NARAL Leadership Circle: membership renewal

examplesThe concept behind NARAL’s leadership circle is straightforward. It’s a high- value giving group and it seems to work. This renewal mailing effectively uses all the drama of a current cause along with a number of practical devices to gain and secure the donor’s attention and involvement.

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The National Park Foundation ‘Plan for Parks’ mini-proposal

A strikingly competent direct mail upgrade appeal, designed to look just like the kind of intriguing and personalised proposal that a major donor might expect. It incorporated a personalised ‘mini-proposal,’ mimicking the sort of materials more frequently presented to prospective major donors following a face-to-face meeting.

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Paul the apostle motivates his church’s donors – c. 56 AD

This could be the first ever appeal for regular, committed donors. In the early days of the Christian church the missionary Paul asked his supporters in the city of Corinth to set aside a small portion of their income regularly, to sustain victims of a famine and then later to support good works generally.

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CHATS Norooz letter, in Farsi

It’s an ancient truism of fundraising that if you want to communicate with donors you must speak to them in their language, not yours. Here’s a small example that paid off in practice.

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Canadian Diabetes Association: Diabetes Summer Surge Campaign

This exhibit is an excellent example of how you can maximise the potential of your existing donors in an impressively short amount of time.

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Bruce Barton’s fundraising letters for Deerfield Academy, from the 1940s.

Written between 1944 and 1960, the 22 letters in this series reputedly raised over US$2 million. Serious direct mail copywriters will study these letters carefully and will profit accordingly. 

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Association of International Cancer Research: Inspiring Stories Book.

By creating real, personal, one-to-one conversations, AICR not only inspired their supporters, they also made them feel as though they really cared.

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Bruce Barton’s fundraising letters for Deerfield Academy: From 1945, letters three, four and five.

These letters are masterful examples of wrapping up serious information in easy conversational style. Find letters three, four and five here.

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WWF Year of the Tiger – Christmas appeal 2009

This is an excellent example of how one campaign with an urgent and compelling message can be tailored and shaped to fit different types of donor.

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Bruce Barton’s fundraising letters for Deerfield Academy: from 1946/47, letters six, seven and eight.

Featured here are letters six, seven and eight from the 21 letters in this SOFII series, three more fine examples of the fundraising letter-writer’s art from an age gone by.

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St Dunstan’s: help blind heroes interactive acquisition campaign.

By combining a commanding and touching story with an interactive grit ‘reaction test’, they have managed to design a campaign that will both move and interest people.

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How Harvard University got its name - major gift fundraising in the seventeenth century.

The examples in this exhibit are almost 400 years old, yet it would seem that we are still making the same mistakes today when it comes to major gift fundraising.

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The Children’s Hospital Trust operating theatre complex campaign

This is a good example of how different types of fundraising can work alongside one another to create a successful campaign with a broad appeal.

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Bruce Barton’s fundraising letters for Deerfield Academy continue with letters nine, 10 and 11, from 1948 and 1949.

Reporting back, storytelling and irresistible offers – more fundraising gems from Bruce Barton.

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Bruce Barton’s fundraising letters for Deerfield Academy: from the turn of the 1950s, letters 12, 13 and 14

It’s a delight now to add letters 12, 13 and 14 to this growing SOFII series featuring legendary writer Bruce Barton’s brilliantly conversational direct mail letters for Deerfield Academy.

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Cancer Research UK’s letter from cancer

At first glance you might think, wow, this mailing from Cancer Research UK is clever and a bit different. It surely will make people angry enough so that they give money that will beat cancer: an admirable ambition. But what would you think if you have cancer?

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The National Asthma Campaign: straws mailing

Asthma direct mailThis revolutionary pack features an irresistible involvement device, an easily detachable plastic drinking straw that readers are invited to detach, open and breathe through for less than a minute. It is an imaginative way of involving recipients and enabling them to feel for themselves what it’s like to live with asthma.

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Amnesty International: the letter in the pen pack

Now on SOFII, one of the letters that was sent with the legendary Amnesty pen pack. This moving example of fine writing was written specifically for women and sent to women only.

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Bruce Barton’s fundraising letters for Deerfield Academy: from 1951, letter 15

 

With all the usual captivation and craftsmanship of a classic Bruce Barton letter, this provides a very valuable lesson in donor care from 60 years ago that is just as relevant today.

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Bruce Barton’s fundraising letters for Deerfield Academy: from 1955 and 1956, letters 16 and 17

A four-year gap between Bruce Barton’s letters for Deerfield Academy in no way diminished his exceptional capacity for penning a powerful appeal. Read, reflect and recycle, for there is real treasure here.

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Bruce Barton’s fundraising letters for Deerfield Academy: from 1956 and 1957, letters 18 and 19

There’s no trickery in these letters, no artifice, no phoney PSs. Just direct, honest talking put in such an endearing and charming way as to become irresistible for those recipients who share the writer’s enthusiasm for Deerfield Academy and his passionate belief that it should give the best education possible to its students.

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Bruce Barton’s fundraising letters for Deerfield Academy: from 1957 and 1958, letters 20 and 21

Bruce Barton’s letters are all about the donors’ achievements, so are welcome news packed with flattery and tales of selflessness and fine motives. 

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Bruce Barton’s fundraising letters for Deerfield Academy: from 1960, letter 22

It has been a pleasure and a privilege to bring you all these letters from that master of direct mail letterwriting, Bruce Barton. But, as the infamous ‘they’ say, ‘all good things must come to an end’. Yes, this is the last SOFII has. But, of course, as they also say, ‘the glass is half full’, so maybe there are more out there that will find their way to SOFII.

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Guide Dogs NSW/ACT*: ‘tea for two’ appeal

A double award-winner from the Guide Dogs of New South Wales that surpassed previous appeals not only in money but in showing how that the organisation does so much more for blind people, young and old, than training dogs: adorable as they might be. 

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RNLI: train one, save many campaign

A campaign from RNLI with a simple but powerful theme, message, image and call to action.

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The Salvation Army UK Christmas appeal 2010

Some donors have rational reasons for giving, some have emotional reasons and some go on a journey. Our strategy was to model this behaviour, to take the insight and analysis to new levels of understanding.

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Great Ormond Street Hospital Christmas mailing in 1941

What an achievement for Great Ormond Street Hospital’s fundraisers during the Second World War, someone kept their mailing for 70 years. 

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Hannah’s innovative direct mail appeal

Is real talent something you are born with, or can create, if you work at it really hard and smart? At best, we feel, it’s a bit of both.

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Wood Green, The Animals Charity’s urgent £3 food appeal

Wood Green, The Animals Charity changed their fundraising strategy and are now achieving better ROIs on their cold recruitment campaigns than ever before.

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The Royal Flying Doctor Service, Victoria: direct mail to buy a jet

This award-winning mailing certainly caught the eye of donors – donations received soared passed their target. The newsletter must have been especially good – 750 people gave again even though they hadn’t been asked.

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Arrels Fundació: cardboard hearts for the homeless

Arrels Fundació have come up with an excellent way to wear your heart on your sleeve to raise money and awareness of the growing number of homeless people in Barcelona. It is also easily copied.

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Parkinson’s UK: the Dave the Worm campaign

Dave the Worm (DTW) is a fun and witty character that is enabling Parkinson’s UK to compete in a crowded marketplace by presenting research to donors in an engaging way and giving them a unique opportunity to regularly support new and innovative research.

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THE PLAN: the launch of child sponsorship, Spain 1937

This exhibit focuses on a documentary film made by Plan International, which shows how the idea of child sponsorship emerged and grew as a response to the dangers faced by children in the Spanish civil war, more than 70 years ago.

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Southern Poverty Law Center: Partners for the Future legacy letter and brochure

brochureThese two items – a single page letter and 16-page booklet which together constitute a single legacy-promotion direct mail package – represent an outstanding effort in legacy marketing by one of the leading practitioners of the direct marketing art in the USA, the Southern Poverty Law Center.

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Sense’s magical Christmas: a special appeal from Teddy

This great exhibit from Sense proves that direct mail isn’t dying - it isn’t even ill. Instead it is thriving and if used properly will achieve great results for your charity.

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University College London’s ‘paper head’ Christmas appeal

It’s not really surprising that University College London’s brief to bring philosopher and jurist Jeremy Bentham back to life to raise much needed funds caused Aline Reed, in her words, ‘to frown, ask “you want me to do what” and generally feel rather puzzled for a number of days.’

But not for long, after undertaking some research she and Mark Phillips came up with the brilliant idea of a ‘ransom in reverse’. Intrigued? This wonderful exhibit will reveal the great results. 

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Médecins sans Frontières: ‘field partners’

Without doubt all fundraisers want regular givers and lots of them. This is a great example of how to convert your existing supporters from random one-off gifts to planned regular giving, and how charities can change the giving behaviour of existing supporters

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David Ogilvy’s letter for the United Negro College Fund

Go back in time to meet one of the commuters who, in 1968, found this superb letter from David Ogilvy on the seat of the train taking him home to his comfortable New York suburb.

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Common Cause Citizen’s Committee: major donor upgrade

Common CauseThe letter and the rather interesting reply form get to the point, asking for money on the letter’s first page.

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Everything you need to know about the annual appeal letter. Made easy.

In one simple infographic Tom Ahern and Jay Love tell you everything you need to know about the annual appeal letter.

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Mith Samlanh Cambodia: the ‘buy a brick’ land campaign

buy a brickAh, that great fundraising stalwart, the brick! How a standard product and colourful involvement device saved a splendid children’s home from having to close its doors. This capital campaign encourages individual supporters to ‘buy a brick’ and help Friends International to buy its Mith Samlanh Centre, Phnom Penh.

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Steel Yard ‘fund a day’ appeal

Yes! I'm a Steel Yard True BelieverEvery now and then we see great fundraising ideas that can be easily adapted and adopted by other nonprofit organisations, particularly smaller ones. This example is particularly useful as it shows a small organisation raising money imaginatively to cover its general running costs.

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Nature Conservancy: launch of their Science Council

Nature Conservancy letterMany fundraisers shy away from asking for big gifts particularly through the mail, but experience constantly shows that if it is well done, it works.

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Ontario Nature’s ‘Ruby the hummingbird’ mailing.

This unusual example of direct mail tells a complex, moving story in an imaginative and very engaging way.

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RSPB’s letter to the future

How do you engage people in your cause, grab their attention and encourage them to stand alongside you on an issue of national importance? Not easy, we think. But here’s a brilliant example of a national conservation charity doing just that, very successfully.

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Jerry Falwell’s Liberty Alliance: emergency appeal for cash

Jerry Falwell's appeal letterWhether or not one agrees with the ‘achievements’ and ‘aspirations’ contained within the letter, it has to be said that they have been given forcefully and with emotion. This is a real battle cry.

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Oxfam Canada’s ‘threads of change’ campaign

The ’threads of change’ campaign from Oxfam Canada gave their donors the chance to do more than just send money to a cause they love. They were able to send messages of hope to Oxfam projects all over the world.

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Audubon Society of Rhode Island’s special recognition of long-time donors

The Audubon Society of Rhode Island’s superb care for their donors and courage in their approach have produced results that will be the envy of charitable organisations everywhere.

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Jewish Care Post-it campaign

Jewish CareThe ideas that look most obvious and the execution that looks so easy and straightforward of course rarely are. There’s no such thing as simple creativity. But here is a great idea executed with flair so as to be instantly clear and appealing.

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Thank you

SOFII gratefully acknowledges the generous and catalytic support of the Joffe Foundation, UK, which has made possible SOFII's growth and development to date.

'My Trust is delighted with its investment in SOFII. We are very pleased that we have been able to be of assistance in the launch of this important initiative.'
Lord Joel Joffe.

About SOFII

SOFII is supervised by The SOFII Foundation, a registered charity in the UK, No 1124743.

SOFII’s development director is Sue Kershaw. She can be reached at sue@sofii.org

'We love SOFII. Next year we hope to help again.' 
Lynne, HMA, Vancouver.

© The SOFII Foundation 2010. http://www.sofii.org.

 

 

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