Fundraising news, ideas and inspiration for professional charity fundraisers

Museums and galleries fall for Craig John cancer appeal hoax

Museums and galleries fall for Craig John cancer appeal hoax

The chain letter appeal, whether by post or e-mail, is still fooling people at some prestigious organisations.

Chain letter hoaxes just keep on coming, and so do the people who are willing to waste their time and resources in responding to them. UK Fundraising has received photocopies of dozens of responses to the Craig John compliment slip hoax from a range of museums, galleries and libraries.

Craig John is described as “terminally ill with cancer” and he wants to get into the Guinness Book of Records for holding the largest collection of compliment slips.

This is simply a variant on the Craig Shergold case, and so appeals for compliments slips in his name should be ignored.

Organisations whose staff have sent out compliment slips to Craig John’s appeal, and who have listed on headed paper the names of other organisations to which they have circulated the hoax appeal, include:

  • Department of Archaeology, University of Cambridge
  • Alumni Office, University of Newcastle
  • Dulwich Picture Gallery
  • Devon County Council
  • Department of Archaeology, University of Newcastle
  • Ashmolean Museum, Oxford
  • Museum of Antiquities, University of Newcastle
  • Infrmation Department, The National Gallery
  • Department of Biochemistry, University of Oxford
  • Bodleian Library, University of Oxford
  • Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages and Literature, University of Oxford
  • Faculty of Theology, University of Oxford
  • Physiological Laboratory, University of Cambridge
  • Wolfson College, Cambridge
  • Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Cambridge
  • Tutorial Office, Robinson College, Cambridge
  • Tutorial Office, Clare Hall, Cambridge

The hoax asked “please send a compliment slip of your own to Craig and then forward the enclosed

    , adding your own organisation to the list, to another ten organisations not already on the list.” All of the above, and presumably many more, fell for the hoax and helped it spread.

    As these hoaxes move to e-mail, we can expect such “appeals” in the name of allegedly terminally ill children to grow considerably. The impact on the potential of legitimate direct e-mail marketing and fundraising by charities could be serious.

    Howard Lake is a digital fundraising entrepreneur. Publisher of UK Fundraising, the world's first web resource for professional fundraisers, since 1994. Trainer and consultant in digital fundraising. Founder of Fundraising Camp and co-founder of Research massive growth in giving.

    Get free email updates

    Keep up to date with fundraising news, ideas and inspiration with a weekly or daily email. [Privacy]

    * We do not share your email or personal details.
    " />