Open Fundraising


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Last month, we won a record three awards at the IOF.


Two were for mobile campaigns, a part of our work that’s innovative and fairly public. We were so excited to have that work recognised, but in truth, we spend the majority of our time here at Open developing strategies and creative for traditional channels like mail. Which made our award for Best Donor Development Campaign with Sightsavers, all the sweeter.


It didn’t win because it looked nice and smashed target (though both are true). It was a textbook piece of direct mail, a melting pot of proven data and creative tactics. Here’s what we did…


We replaced a long established conceptual approach to appeals (covering a variety of sight saving work) with a pared back execution focusing on one hard-hitting problem – trachoma.


We told a compelling story of what happens on the front line and introduced donors to the amazing Fred, whom you can see pictured above.


We gave the donor something individual and tangible they could do to help (pay for drugs to prevent the disease spreading and operations to restore sight).


We asked them to give an amount that was personal to them and relative to their previous giving. And every ask amount was equated to a number of drug treatments or operations. No ask ladders. No random prompt amounts.


We asked them to give something of themselves too. Depending on their specific ask, we requested they write a card to a recovering patient or a message on a sticker for pallets of drugs they’d paid for. Almost 2,000 people rose to the challenge, which was a first for the charity (1 in 5 responders).


As a result Sightsavers raised double the gross income expected, despite mailing 40% fewer donors than the previous Spring.


Clear beats clever. Give it a go and see what it does to your fundraising.

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Six months ago this week, I joined Open Fundraising after four years on the client side. It was a good decision. Agency life suits me well and it’s been happy landings.


But having worked at charities – where failing to bring in cake on your allotted day was a sackable offence – I sometimes think my colleagues here don’t understand the true value of a good home bake. Don’t get me wrong – they’ll eat it faster than I can make it. But it’s more than a foodstuff. My love of cake goes deeper.


There’s something about the alchemical process of watching your ingredients rise that lends a little magic to the average Thursday. And among our inboxes, print specs and deadlines, it’s a simple reminder of the camaraderie, and old-fashioned charity, at the heart of what we do.


As we push boundaries, it reminds us where we came from. New things are exciting, and you can get creative with your bakes, but however clever you get, it’s vital you stick to the recipe.


Because all good cake, like all good fundraising, has a core formula, proven to work. So whatever fancy icing we put on top of our product to make it that bit tastier, the same key ingredients must go in every time. And if your fundraising has all the right ingredients – if you make it personal, powerful and urgent – it will rise.


So there you go. You had no idea how integral cake was to your cause did you? Having laboured just about every cake-is-fundraising analogy there is, I’ll be serving up this fruity little number at 4pm.


Do pop in if you fancy a slice.



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You may have heard that we won some awards recently.


One of those awards was for Best Use of Telephone, for Friends of the Earth’s Bees Need You campaign. A campaign we’re all very proud of here at Open.


Here is the final ad.


Here’s the first version that we took to FOE.


And here’s an image of both versions together.


Not much changed between concept and final artwork.


This ad did well because we worked with a brilliant client who gave us an excellent brief and it was a great idea that didn’t get watered down through the approval process.


And if I wanted to labour the point I’d show you the ad from the campaign that won Best Use of Telephone at the IOF awards in 2013.


Paul de Gregorio