Help The Aged: make a blind man see’ press advertisement

Exhibited by
Ken Burnett
May 14, 2008
Medium of Communication
Press advertising
Target Audience
Individuals, single gift
Type of Charity
Disabilities, seniors
Country of Origin
Date of first appearance

SOFII’s view

This ad is a classic. Created by the legendary Harold Sumption in the late 1970s, it embodies one of the most direct and hard-to-resist fundraising propositions, ‘Make a blind man see’. Immediately it puts a price on this miracle and for most people an easily affordable price at that, £10.00.

Where could any of us get such value for money, or anything like it? This ad is brilliant fundraising communication at its best – straightforward, simple, clear, immediate, personal, emotive, offering a direct chance to make a major difference with an achievable gift. It is a wonderful example of a near-perfect fundraising proposition.

This ad was conceived and written by Harold Sumption, heavily influenced by the approach he had developed when responsible for advertising at Oxfam. (Harold was also the founder of the International Fundraising Congress, held each year in the Netherlands.) He also supervised press advertising and fundraising generally at ActionAid, as well as Help the Aged.

To recruit new donors cost-effectively.


Through a relatively simple and quick procedure eye camps in India really can restore sight to millions blinded unnecessarily and temporarily by cataracts.

Special characteristics

Almost invariably the ad appeared as a 20 centimetres deep across two columns, in only the quality British print media. As with the ActionAid ads their creator, Harold Sumption, described them as ‘… looking like they’d been put together by amateurs; two little old ladies working with passionate conviction in a leaky garret, rather than by a sophisticated West End advertising agency.’

Influence / Impact

Harold Sumption was a guru to a generation of energetic British fundraisers including Giles Pegram, Ian Ventham and Ken Burnett. This ad was one of his most famous, so it will have influenced many.


No records have been kept but these ads worked very well and appeared often (always a sure sign that they are working).


Classic off-the-page fundraising.

SOFII’s I Wish I’d Thought Of That 2012 – Tobin Aldrich presents Help the Aged

View original image
As the original is a bit hard to read, below is a version of this classic ad recently prepared for SOFII, showing it as it might have looked, pre-publication.