Elton John, Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone, British Royal The Countess of Wessex, broadcaster Trevor McDonald, and entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson have all had one.
The chain letter to the well-connected that simply goes on for a decade, reported The Independent on June 11, 2001.
The missive, which asks recipients for sums ranging from £1 to £20, has been circulating for 10 years in media, business and financial circles.
Unlike the nasty chain letters people have sometimes received, this is a heartfelt but misguided attempt to raise funds for the Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital in London, UK.
The plea is for help to raise £1.5m after the hospital was forced to close four wards due to lack of funds. Even organisations have received the letter in the past year: the BBC, publishers Conde Nast, Penguin, car maker Rolls Royce and auctioneer Sotheby’s.
But amid all this high-flying philanthropy there are problems. Great Ormond has not had to close any wards – even if it had, it would be barred from fundraising for National Health Service “core” activities – and, above all, it is desperate for the letters to end.
“This letter causes far more trouble than it is worth for all concerned,” said Stephen Cox, the hospital’s communications director. “We appreciate the money, but it is the antithesis of modern fundraising. We cannot afford to acknowledge a £1 donation, it costs the sender much more to send on and it is based on a false premise.”
[EJW.com knows how it feels. Fan letters circulate from Romania to the Middle East to The Philippines, as well as less exotic locations asking for funds from Elton. We do our best to pass requests on, but we would much rather appellates spared us from this task. We are a fan club for a musician, not a match-maker, a fund-raiser for private campaigns, nor a booking agent for those of you ambitious enough to ask Elton to play at your wedding or birthday party! The fact is, we do not have the resources to investigate requests – some of which prove to be completely bogus! Please refrain, thanks! Ed.]