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Mum's Mailbox: A Deliberate Mistake? Plus an Unusual Gift Aid Form...

My mum is a kind hearted soul and gives to a number of charities.  In her mid 50's, she is the sort of lady who is a sucker for a sob story and, much to my dad's annoyance, can't say no if someone rings her up asking her to sell raffle tickets, take a home box etc.

As such she gets lots of charity direct mail. This comes from charities she has previously supported and also unsolicited as she must be on just about every cold charity mailing list out there.  Last Christmas she received nearly 40 appeals in November and December!

Anyway, I thought I would take advantage of this and have been asking her to save the appeals and send them on to me to look at and add to my direct mail library.  I've been sitting on the last bunch for over a month, but have finally got round to having a look through and picking out a couple of interesting bits.

The Camphill Trust

I always take a close look at the Camphill Trust mailings as they do direct mail wonderfully well.  They have a warm, friendly feel and tell great stories about the work they do.  This newsletter mailing was no different, but what really caught my eye was the mistake at the bottom of the first page.

Camphill 1

Camphill 2

As you can see, the bottom of the first page has a line or two missing.  Now most people would put this down to a genuine mistake, but I'd be surprised if this got through all the relevant proof stages without being spotted and it got me wondering whether it was a deliberate mistake?

Why would anyone make a deliberate mistake you ask? Well, I remember reading somewhere (and for the life of me I can't locate the article - can anyone help?) that when there was an obvious mistake in a letter then the response rate increased.  The theory being that people like to be helpful and point out the mistake and at the same time make a gift. 

Now it's not a strategy you can use often, but I did wonder if the missing line was some sort of elaborate test to try and boost response? What do you reckon? Am I being overly cynical?


The only other thing that caught my eye was this response form for Plan.

Plan Donation Form

There was no gift aid declaration to tick, which I've never seen before.  Instead they asked you to call up to make an oral gift aid declaration.

Thinking it through I came up with three possible reasons for this:

  1. My mum has already made a gift aid declaration to Plan and so they saved some space by not including it.
  2. It was an emergency appeal and so the form may have been designed quickly and the lack of a gift aid declaration is an oversight.
  3. Plan are encouraging people to call so they can have a conversation with supporters, tell them more about the appeal and maybe secure a larger gift than they would through the post.

Again, would be interested if anyone has any thoughts.

My mum has a big pile of Christmas appeals that she is going to send down to me (after she has chosen which ones to donate to) and I'll pick out any interesting observations from these in the next few weeks.