Ryton Gar­dens: recy­clable mailing

Exhibited by
May 06, 2014
Medium of Communication
Direct mail.
Target Audience
Type of Charity
Country of Origin
Date of first appearance

SOFII’s view

Ryton Garden’s famous recyclable mailing is one of the best ever examples of the benefits fundraisers can realise when they show that they really understand their donors.

Created by Ken Burnett, Susan Kay-Williams and Carlos Sapochnik at Burnett Associates.

Name of exhibitor

Dr Susan Kay-Williams

This was to be the first appeal mailing to members of HDRA (as then called). These were environmentally aware, organic gardeners who would hate the waste of junk mail so the objective was to reach them with something that would win their interest as well as gain much-needed income from members. The target was £20,000 (I think from memory). The pack comprised the usual envelope in which members received their newsletter (but without the newsletter) for familiarity and then had one piece of brown paper, which folded from A5 (210mm x148mm) to A0 (size 1189mm x 841mm). This contained all the information about the plans to develop the demonstration garden, the request for support, three levels of giving (which had non hierarchical titles -gardener, cultivator and seedsman) and a panel which described how to turn the rest of the paper (after sending back the forms) into seedling pots.


Alan and Jackie Gear who ran HDRA approached Burnett Associates to undertake this job. They were very nervous of the perception of it by their members but knew they needed the income to develop the new site at Ryton, Warwickshire.

Special characteristics

It was physically novel, all the elements being on one piece of brown paper. It had an ulterior use, the residue of the mailing could be used for seedling pots.

Influence / Impact

Extremely well received by Members. Set a new standard for understanding the audience. Donors contacted Ryton Gardens at the time to say how much they liked it. One said

‘I normally hate direct mail, but this seemed to really speak to me…’


No testing was done as there was only enough money to send it to members.


Exceeded target by more than ten times and had a very positive reception from the members who did indeed use the paper as intended. It won BDMA Gold and European DMA Bronze awards in 1989. It worked superbly well. And it was innovative and fun.


The pack became legendary and was frequently used for case studies (both Ken Burnett and George Smith refer to it in their books).

View original image
All the normal components of a direct mail appeal package are here, but unconventionally, they’re all on the same piece of brown paper. And you can you reuse it in your garden.
Once read, the mailing could be converted into six seed pots – eight if you were to use the reply forms as seed pots, rather than for sending back with your donation. Luckily for Ryton Gardens, many of their members made do with six seed pots.

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