Open Fundraising


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In the studio at Open, we spend hours and hours, followed by a well-needed tea and biscuit break, and then more hours, searching for the perfect image. Searching for the one that communicates the exact feeling we’re looking for, and which tells the story quickly and clearly. The specific qualities that set these images apart differ wildly, but they tend to fall into two distinct types.


The first, taken by professional photographers, are eye-wateringly beautiful. They can include powerful portraits – capturing facial expressions that instantly reveal the depths of human experience in a way that words cannot.


Or they might be steeped in pathos, depicting poignant moments in time. Technically, they’re always brilliant – and exactly what’s needed in outdoor and press, where we only have a moment to grab the attention of a potential donor.


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Taken by Philippe Lopez, Tolosa, Leyte, Philippines


At first glance, the second kind of image can appear underwhelming. Taken by everyday people, they’re simple shots of real lives and surroundings. Although not conventionally beautiful, they can be equally powerful. By knowing who’s behind the camera, you are immediately drawn into their world.


You experience the raw emotion, unfiltered by someone else’s lens. In the right setting, and with time to appreciate the context, these images can hit every bit as hard as those taken by the professionals.


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Taken by a refugee teenager in Za’atari, Syria


So, which one do you think is the better image? I’d say both are just as memorable and thought provoking – and equally worth searching for.



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The creative team here at Open has just moved into a new studio. In an attempt to shield our retinas from all the yellow (we love it really Richard!) we’ve created a wall of inspiring heroes. The picture below was my entry. Please be kind. I do words, not pictures.


Amy 2


It is, or should resemble, the first person on Mars – one of 70 people who’ve already made the commitment to go, willing to give up everything in the sole pursuit of knowledge.


These people are the ultimate innovators. Their discoveries will change the face of science from medicine and engineering to our understanding of ourselves. And the price they have put on all this learning is their lives – Mars is a one-way trip.


So often we look to our direct competitors for inspiration. The Mars team remind me to reach further, to push myself and try new things even if that’s scary. After all, the price of innovation for us, as fundraisers, is far more affordable, because in our worst-case scenario, we still learn. And knowing what doesn’t work can sometimes be as valuable to our fundraising as knowing what does.


Of course, like interplanetary travel, good innovation needs robust data behind it, but it also takes a little bravery.


So with the end of the financial year in sight, and plans for 2015 beginning to take shape, ask yourself: how far are you willing to go in pursuit of knowledge? How hard will you push to be ahead of the game? Do you have it in your budget to boldly go?


If you’re ready to take a leap, we’re with you all the way.




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Retinoblastoma can be spotted with flash photography


The other week Emily wrote a brilliant post about a simple app assisting blind people in their daily lives. Here’s another great idea I saw that also harnesses the power of your mobile phone – in an even simpler way – to make a real difference to someone’s sight.


The Childhood Eye Cancer Trust (CHECT) is a little known charity with a small group of supporters. With a limited budget and an urgent need to increase awareness, they recently developed an innovative campaign explaining how to detect Retinoblastoma – a life-threatening eye cancer that affects young children.


I was skeptical another app was on the cards when I saw, “everyone has the tool to detect Retinoblastoma in their pocket” in the promo video. But then came the interesting bit.


All you need to do is take a photo of the eye – with the flash on, and the pupil appears white if it is affected by Retinoblastoma. This simple piece of technology, at everyone’s disposal, is all it takes. It reminded me that creating something innovative doesn’t have to be complicated and entirely new to the audience.


CHECT poster CHECT poster CHECT poster


And rather than just tell you, CHECT asks you to try it out for yourself. They’ve used special inks to recreate the effect when you take a photo of the eye in the poster – engaging the audience immediately. And, as we know from campaigns like Breakthrough Breast Cancer’s ‘Five signs’, if something encourages interaction from the get-go it’s far more likely to stay in people’s minds.


Given the constraints, this is a brilliant campaign. If just one child is diagnosed with Retinoblastoma and given the treatment they need, I think every second and penny spent on it, will be worth it.