Sense’s magical Christmas: a special appeal from Teddy

Exhibited by
December 27, 2012
Medium of Communication
Direct mail
Target Audience
Type of Charity
Children, youth and family
Country of Origin
Date of first appearance

SOFII’s view

This colourful, Christmassy direct mail pack seems to have it all, including a toy monkey who comes to life at Christmas time to write a letter that tells a very moving, positive story about a small boy who’s both deaf and blind and the difference donors can make in his life. This direct mail pack looks so good and worked so well it shows that, when done properly with imagination and attention to detail, direct mail is still a wonderfully effective way to talk to your donors.

Sense and Bluefrog.

Name of exhibitor

Sense and Bluefrog.

At Christmas, magical things happen. Reindeers fly through the night sky, an elderly man squeezes down the chimney to deliver presents and, as you can see here, a very special toy comes to life to raise money for Sense, the charity that helps deafblind children.

Meet Teddy, a toy monkey. This Christmas, he’s written to Sense donors to tell them about his friend, Matthew.

Matthew is deaf and blind and Teddy is his constant companion. As such, he’s in a perfect position to tell donors about the challenges that Matthew faces. Teddy’s helped to teach Matthew signs – a monkey’s long arms are very helpful when it comes to signing. Teddy’s seen Matthew’s communication skills improve so much that he can tell his mum that he loves her. So Teddy can thank donors for the progress they have helped Matthew to make and show what an important role they can play in the life of a deafblind child.


Sense wanted an appeal that really celebrates Christmas. The story of Matthew and his toy monkey really captured our imagination. It was lovely to find that everyone at Sense shared our enthusiasm for this novel creative approach.

Teddy gets a little help from Helen Potter, senior children and family support worker at Sense, with some of the fundraising details – we use an ask ladder to raise funds for the running cost of a Sense family centre.

Special characteristics

They say you need an infinite number of monkeys with typewriters to produce Shakespeare, but it turns out you need just one to produce a successful appeal. This lovely, warm letter is signed off ‘Lots of love and cuddles, Teddy, age 2½ (best friend of Matthew, age 3½)’.

Supporters are given a monkey decoration to keep and another to use to write a message to a child and his or her family. We want them to feel part of Sense’s Christmas and so ask them to return their gift in time for the Christmas party.


The appeal has clearly hit an emotional chord with Sense donors. We have been overwhelmed by the number of messages we have received from supporters: over 500, to date, and that is just the start.

Our supporters, frontline staff, families and head office staff have fully embraced the appeal. Everyone agreed that the idea was fun, appealing and different. Having such a strong, single proposition – a deafblind boy is learning sign language through his monkey – and a lovely execution of the creatives has meant that colleagues and the families we work have become really engaged with our appeal.


Appeal 2011£34,668*
Appeal 2012£27,245
Reminder 2011£24,643
Reminder 2012£23,400

*In 2011 we included a set of beads with each pack, which pushed up costs. Cost includes creative & artwork fees, print, production and postage.


This table shows the results of this year’s Christmas appeal and reminder mailing against last year’s results to the nearest date. The appeal and reminder mailed on the same dates in 2011 and 2012.

Campaign Solicited Responses RR Increase on
last year
Total donation
Increase on
last year
2011 Christmas Appeal 30,647 2,203 7.19% £48,165.48
2012 Christmas Appeal 30,890 3,997 12.94% +5.75% £83,898.62 + £35,733.14
2011 Reminder 13,920 29 0.21% £1,331.50
2012 Reminder 14,572 560 3.84% +3.63% £17,544.00 + £16,212.50

Appeal results to 8 Dec 2011.2012 results pulled on 11 Dec 2012.

Reminder results on 16 Dec 2012.

This year’s appeal has bought in £35,733 more than the 2011 appeal had by the same week. The response rate is also 5.75 per cent higher.

Even though it is still a bit soon to measure the reminder results, it seems that this year’s reminder mailing has brought in £16,213 more than the 2011 reminder had by the following week. The response rate is also 3.63 per cent higher.

This is a fantastic result and we hope it will enable us to smash this year’s target by the time we have received all donations.

The first segments to drop for the reminder in 2011 were the highest value segments, which explains the higher average gift in 2011 vs. 2012


From time to time you hear people say that direct mail is dying. This appeal proves it’s not even ill. It can be totally charming, appeal to people on a number of different levels and raise money for a wonderful cause.

Also, we think this may be the first fundraising monkey.