How Do Charity Leaflets Persuade the Reader to Donate Money? Essay Sample

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In this essay, I shall be focusing on two charity leaflets and comparing how they try to persuade the reader to donate money. The leaflets which I will be looking at are Oxfam’s ‘Ethiopia Appeal’ leaflet, and Help the aged’s campaign to ‘Stop an older person being alone at Christmas’. The Oxfam leaflet is aimed at the NUT (National Union of Teachers), and the Help the aged leaflet is aimed

is aimed at the general public. Both of these leaflets use varying techniques, to bring the reader into a more sympathetic state, both visual and written.

The Oxfam advert is in a landscape form, much like a book which opens up from the bottom, making it almost user friendly. This is a very common way of leaflets being set out. The image on the front of the leaflet shows two children sitting together. It is very important for the image to be quite depressing for it to make an impact on the reader. The older child is helping a cup into the younger child’s mouth, giving him water and the caption underneath the photograph says ‘The children of Ethiopia need our help now’, which is exactly what the photo is showing. Oxfam tries to get the reader to feel sorry for the children of Ethiopia, by showing an upsetting image, and then telling the reader to donate. This is quite an effective method of persuasion as it tries to bring out the reader’s emotions which is likely to over come their thought of money.

Help the aged’s leaflet is in the form of a letter on an A4 sheet, making the leaflet more personal. The picture displayed on the Help the aged leaflet shows a photo of an old lady named Maud Wilson, looking out of her window as if she is hoping for someone to come and keep her company. The old lady looks quite lonely and upset. Like the Oxfam leaflet, Help the aged are trying to bring out the reader’s emotions to encourage them to donate. The atmosphere of the picture gives off the impression that the room is quite dark and empty, as there is a very small light coming in on the old woman’s face from the window. The caption underneath shows that ‘Maud has spent the last six Christmases completely alone.’ This makes the reader sympathise with the lady and, like any normal human being, would want to do something to help.

Both of the charity leaflets have fairly large bold headings in inverse colours to the background. This makes the headings stand out. The heading on the Oxfam leaflet is on the top left hand side of the sheet which doesn’t make it stand out so much. This is so that the image becomes the dominant feature, as pictures prove to be more effective than words. Help the aged’s leaflet heading is in the centre, just like how the headline of a newspaper would be, making it grab the reader’s attention.

On the other side of the Oxfam leaflet, the heading says ‘Please help us save the lives of children in Ethiopia.’ which sounds a little more desperate than the first appeal on the front page. Underneath the heading it says ‘The NUT has been working with the Teachers’ Association for years, in order to give children the chance of a better future.’ which goes along with the idea that working together as a team can ‘help the children of Ethiopia’. The sentence that follows this, is ‘But this appeal is different.’ which is very short and gives the impression that Oxfam are very serious about saving lives in Ethiopia.

There is a second sheet that comes with the Help the aged leaflet which has a form for donating gifts to the elderly. The heading of the leaflet says ‘Stop an older person being alone at Christmas’ and underneath it in bold, it says ‘Yes, I want to help an older person who has no-one.’ This makes the reader feel guilty that they don’t want to help because saying ‘No, I don’t want to help an older person who has no-one.’ sounds cold-hearted. This is a clever technique to persaude the reader to help.

Inside the Oxfam leaflet there is a photograph of someone measuring out rice. This is showing the reader that there isn’t enough food to go around in Ethiopia. The caption underneath shows that the picture was taken at an ‘Oxfam therapeutic feeding centre in Ethiopia’. This shows the reader what Oxfam have done already to help the children of Ethiopia with people’s donations. This gives the reader peace of mind, that their money would go to good use.

On the lower page of the leaflet, there is a heading, just like the one used in the Help the aged leaflet, saying ‘YES, I want to help the people of Ethiopia’. I think Oxfam’s method is more effective because the sentence is shorter, and sounds more serious. Next to the heading is a picture of children’s feet which look thin and unhealthy. The caption says ‘Children’s feet; standing on the river bank where they play, bathe and collect water’. Not only does this bring out the reader’s emotions, it also shows them that they are extremely fortunate to have clean water and comfortable footwear.

Like most leaflets, there needs to be facts and information to persaude the reader into donating money. The inside of the Oxfam leaflet starts with the situation in Ethiopia, ‘devastating drought’, ‘fragile economy’, ‘disaster’. The paragraph after starts with a rhetorical question saying ‘What is Oxfam doing?’ Underneath this heading, there is a picture of an Ethiopian mother holding her child who looks to be crying. The child is looking directly at the camera, making the leaflet more personal, and showing the child’s emotions.

In the final paragraph, Oxfam tells the reader what they can do to help. Oxfam persuades the reader to donate money in this paragraph by using the same technique of making the reader feel bad if they don’t wish to help. It says that Oxfam relies ‘on the generous support of those who are concerned about the suffering people in Ethiopia.’ This persuasive technique is very common and quite effective as it makes the reader want to do something to help.

The Help the aged leaflet shows a hand written letter in the top corner of the page from an elderly woman who is in need of company. This letter makes the leaflet more personal, as if the woman is a friend asking for your help. The leaflet continues with a message from Help the aged, in the form of a letter. The letter starts with ‘Dear Friend,’ trying to become friends with the reader and basing the leaflet around friendship as it is about Christmas. When the writer says ‘What does Christmas mean to you?’ The reader would have in mind ‘decorations, laughter, presents, carols, and, above all, family and friends’ but this what ‘most of us’ would be thinking.

The letter continues to explain to the reader, directly, the situation that Muad Wilson faces every year at Christmas. ‘Christmas means loneliness, desolation, silence and despair.’ This tries to get the reader to realise that Christmas is not a happy day for everyone. The writer of the letter talks about what Muad Wilson’s Christmas must be like, and then says ‘I simply can’t imagine what that must be like. Can you?’ This is something a friend or member of the family would say whilst watching a documentary or reading an article on the less fortunate. The writer is trying to act like the reader’s friend, which would then lead to the writer asking for a favour, just like a friend would do.

The writer then tries to distance himself as being Director General of Help the aged, and appears more as a normal person when he writes ‘If you are as moved by Maud’s plight as I am’.

At the bottom of the page, it says ‘please turn over…’ which still gives the reader that sense of warmth from the writer.

The other side of the page starts off with bold text saying ‘we can’t do it without the help of people like you.’ The writer is now trying to flatter the reader, like a friend would do just before saying ‘that’s why I’m counting on you’.

The letter ends with a signature, to keep up that friendly feel that the leaflet tries to get across.

At the bottom of the leaflet, there is the second half of Muad Wilson’s letter. It ends with Maud writing ‘Yours in hope, Maud Wilson’. This gives the reader the feeling as if they’re the only ones who can help.

Out of the two charity leaflets, I thought the leaflet from Help the aged was more effective and used a more friendly lay out than the Oxfam leaflet. The persuasive techniques used in Help the aged’s leaflet wasn’t as effective as Oxfam’s, but I thought the Oxfam leaflet was too difficult to read, as the writing was small and confined to small spaces. However, I do think the cause for Oxfam’s leaflet is more important than Help the aged’s appeal. If Oxfam used the same style as Help the aged’s, I think it would be more effective.

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