Open Fundraising


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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.



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On the whole, I’m not a huge fan of apps. They tend to lure me into time-wasting, or I use them a couple of times before they sit on my homescreen, gathering virtual dust. So I wasn’t surprised to read that as many as 1 in 5 apps are used once and then never again (thanks for sharing, PdG).
But I really hope that’s not the case for Be My Eyes.
This new app connects blind people with sighted volunteers from around the world. Using video chat, the blind person can request assistance from a sighted person, to help with anything from knowing the expiry date of food or medicine, to navigating unfamiliar surroundings.
We’re always trying to think of clever ways to utilise existing technology at Open so the simplicity of this idea – and the fact that it’s just making use of your smartphone’s camera – really struck me.
But not only that, the process is quick, straightforward and instantly rewarding. And engaging people in these small gestures – where they can see exactly who they’re helping – could one day lead them to something bigger.
Now, an app that makes life easier for a whole community, and connects you directly with the person you’re helping, is something I can get behind.

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Screen shot 2014-12-19 at 14.26.41


NHS Blood Donation has a Facebook page where people share photos of loved ones, who are only here today thanks to those who gave blood. I think it’s lovely.


And as it’s Christmas and we’re all in the giving mood, it’s also made me think – why not give a gift that’s actually needed?


At this time of year, when everyone’s partying, not as many people give blood – and the NHS need 200,000 donations if they’re to have enough for life-saving and life-changing transfusions.


So next week, as well as Christmas shopping*, I’m going to take an hour to do something nice.


You can find your nearest place to give blood here.





*crying on the floor of Westfield