Open Fundraising


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In the seven years I’ve been fundraising I’ve been fortunate enough to have some incredible experiences. I’ve worked alongside inspirational colleagues and clients; visited places I would not otherwise have seen and have been involved in truly innovative changes in the way we’re raising money. But this year Tim and James offered me the chance to go to my first IFC – something that had been left unchecked on my fundraising bucket list!


In the week since we returned the whirlwind of ideas and thoughts have begun to shape into an action plan– a plan that draws on a few personal highlights:


Firstly, Damian O’Broin challenged some fundraising ‘myths’. Asking the room if it’s ever okay not to send a thank you definitely caught my attention – thanking donors well is a mantra at Open. It was an excellent reminder that everything we test and learn in direct mail can, and should, be applied to newer channels such as mobile.


On a similar note Bernard Ross and Omar Mahmoud’s workshop about behavioural economics taught me that if we don’t understand how we think, we definitely can’t assume we understand the way our donors do!


Adrian Sargeant’s name is one that comes up a lot at Open. It felt only right to see him speak in person. His research about what makes great fundraising leadership felt relevant to more than just the fundraising directors in the room. I liked the idea that a good leader looks in the mirror when things go wrong and out of the window when things go right!


My favourite analogy came from Bill Toliver. He reminded us that we need to fix our goals before we set off. As, if you were to set off into the desert without a fixed point on the horizon, you’d end up trailing in a circle. Sound familiar?


It was a privilege to have time out of the office to meet up with new and familiar faces. A glow of pride was surely emanating from that conference centre in Holland, which I hope has followed us back to our respective corners of the globe.




Photo borrowed from Chris Ford

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I got this thank you letter through the post last Friday.


Jo Malone is a company that make cologne. It’s nice cologne, smells nice, does its job.


I like this note for several reasons. It’s hand written. It’s personalised (twice) and it came within a week and a bit of my purchase. And finally, I didn’t expect to receive it.


What do your charity’s thank you letters look like? Do you get them in the post quickly? Do you mention (or ask) why the donor gave you their money?


I’m guessing they’re not handwritten unless the donation is very, very large (and no, the cost of this cologne wouldn’t take me out of your standard value segment).


All this for cologne.  My money hasn’t saved any lives, helped cure any diseases or given someone a hand out of poverty. It just made me smell nicer.


It makes me think, it’s lucky that Jo Malone isn’t a charity as its thank you letters put most of the charities I support to shame.



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Winesi Blog1


Meet Winesi March – a bubbly grandad from rural Malawi who has been completely blinded by cataracts.


Yesterday, the Open team (along with thousands of others around the world) watched him undergo surgery live online. And today at 1.30, we’ll be tuning in to to witness the moment his bandages are removed and his vision is restored.


This amazing piece of reality TV is the centerpiece of the launch of Sightsavers’ Global campaign ‘A Million Miracles’ – which aims to raise £30m and to fund a million cataract operations like Winesi’s. And it’s absolutely one of the most exciting things we’ve ever been part of.


A combination of long copy press, SMS alerts, live streaming on Google Plus, bloggers, Vloggers, YouTubers and all kinds of other social stuff has crystallised around a beautifully simple proposition and real time storytelling to deliver something very special.


It‘s been an honour to work with the Sightsavers’ team and their amazing partners Fieldcraft Studios and Misfits – who have overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles to make it all happen.


So now, fingers crossed, all that’s left to say is tune in, tweet, share and donate £30 to make another of those million miracles happen.