Help the Aged: you have this gift’ direct mail pack

Exhibited by
Maxine Delahunty
April 05, 2012
Medium of Communication
Direct mail
Target Audience
Type of Charity
Country of Origin
Date of first appearance

SOFII’s view

Both the text on the envelope and the incentive in this classic direct mail pack from the 1980s have been copied frequently but seldom if ever equalled, far less bettered. It is a tragedy that the contents of the pack are not available to us as, from memory, they were just as good. The gift so cryptically referred to, of course, is the gift of sight. When intrigued recipients opened the envelope they found inside a rectangle of opaque plastic and instructions to hold it up to their eye, which gave them a fair idea of what it’s like to look on the world through cataracts. The offer was that for a few pounds you could pay for a simple operation to remove someone’s cataract and so restore his or her sight.

If any SOFII user can help shed light on the rest of this pack, please do let us know so we can fill in some of the blanks.

Creator / originator


Summary / objectives

To create intrigue, to get the mailing opened and then, immediately, to involve the recipient immediately and completely in the proposition.


Help the Aged at the time was trying many creative approaches under the experienced creative oversight of fundraising legend Harold Sumption.

Special characteristics

Brilliant involvement device.

Influence / impact

Many have aspired to copy and adapt this classic pack.


N/A. But it must have worked, and well, because the pack was HTA’s banker (control) package for many years.


It’s a classic, still well worth copying. Or at least, adapting (if your organisation doesn’t work with people with cataracts).

Follow up on this project

Two SOFII users did indeed shed light on this exhibit. See the original version of this pack, in its full splendour!

View original image
An intriguing cover line works every time. Add in a great involvement device and you may just have a classic on your hands, possibly even, one of the best control packs of all time.
The point of it all – make a blind man see.
This image of uncertain origin shows an Arabic attired bearded man operating on a woman's eye performing the ancient cataract operation called couching. The famous Indian surgeon, Sushruta, referred to as the father of modern surgery, described this and other surgical techniques in his work Sushruta Samhita which was translated into Arabic by the 8th century. The uncertain dates of the life of Sushruta place him sometime between 800 and 500 BC. SOFII is telling you this to make up for the fact that she’s mislaid the contents of HTA’s pack.