Canada Post heeds charities' concerns over cancellation message

publication date: Nov 28, 2011
Canada Post won plaudits in 2007 when it became the first major Canadian corporation to adopt mental health as its chosen cause. Since then, the Canada Post Foundation for Mental Health has granted $4.7 million to charities involved in mental health care, education, research and advocacy programs.

But the Crown corporation's recent move to raise awareness of its commitment raised red flags among direct mail fundraisers. Without previous announcement or apparent consultation, a 2cm x 14cm "SUPPORT MENTAL HEALTH" message in both official languages began to appear across the top of envelopes, cancelling the stamps and intruding upon the landscape of all stamped mail.

Quick response, prompt cooperation

For fundraisers, the message conflicted with carefully crafted envelopes and messages designed to inspire support for their own causes. When fundraising agency Blakely & Associates noticed the message in its seed mail, its production partner, Prime Data, asked Canada Post to remove its own charitable message.

"We work so carefully in our design of direct mail pieces. Every word, space, colour and image is considered for best effect," explains Prime Data president Steve Falk. "Peter Blakely and I were concerned when we saw this dot matrix, 20-point Arial font message slashed across the mail piece, covering over our own messages and promoting another organization, and acted quickly to bring this to the attention of the corporation.

"To the credit of Canada Post, they listened and acted quickly," he continues. "Within a week of my initial complaint I received assurances that they would remove this message."

Canada Post continues to promote its valuable charitable message through other promotional channels.

Direct mail's effectiveness

Falk cites estimates saying one billion dollars, about one-quarter of all Canadian charitable non-church giving by individuals happens in response to direct mail. One in four adults contributes to their preferred environmental, healthcare, educational, animal advocacy and related charities using the mail.

For more information, Steve Falk, Prime Data, 289-802-0584,

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