Fundraising: Guide Dogs uses real-life tale for Xmas campaign

Guide Dogs for the Blind Association has shunned the stereotypical Christmas approach for its seasonal direct marketing drive.

Instead, the charity is using the real-life story of how a guide dog led his blind owner to safety during the July 7 terror attacks in London.

Wendy Moulton, direct marketing co-ordinator at Guide Dogs, said: "We thought this was a particularly strong story at this time of year, when people are thinking about the 12 months gone by."

Designed by WWAV Rapp Collins Bristol, the mailing highlights how a guide dog's training was pushed to the limits when Tom and his owner, Mike Townsend, were in Tavistock Square when the bomb exploded on the number 30 bus.

As usual when starting a direct marketing campaign, the Guide Dogs fundraising team talked to those working on the operational side of the charity to see if they had heard any exceptional stories.

This year, it came from Townsend, a blind trustee at the charity, who describes in the mailing how he thought it was a demolition but realised it was more serious when sirens filled the air.

Faced with police roadblocks, Tom had to lead his owner down unfamiliar routes to get him to a meeting.

In the letter Townsend says: "It says something about Tom's training that I can honestly say that he was not fazed at all."

The mailing asks people to give so "more people can have a dog like Tom".

It aims to raise £200,000 for the charity, with the majority of letters going to warm supporters, but some being tested on cold prospects.

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