Open Fundraising


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We talk a lot about mobile here at Open, and for good reason. When there are more mobile phones than humans in the world, and recent research suggesting that the average user checks theirs over a 100 times a day, it really can’t be ignored.


It’s opened up a whole host of opportunities for our sector – giving donors a way to engage with charities instantly. What really excites me is how we can harness the mobile phone to do even more.


We’ve just developed a new regular giving product for the Canal & River Trust, called ‘Waterside Watch’. Targeted at families (it’s a perfect Christmas gift for the kids) and animal lovers, it’s an exciting new way to help preserve and protect 2,000 miles of UK waterways that many animals call home. A key part of this product is that whilst the payment method is traditional the stewardship is delivered in an innovative way direct to your phone.


We built an SMS broadcast platform that allows us to send the stewardship content, straight to mobiles. It’s supported with monthly emails and tumblr where all of our beautiful images, videos and sound bites are hosted.


So, not only do we deliver a product to our donors in a way that’s best for them, but we can easily measure engagement levels and control the vital welcome journey messaging in a cost-effective and efficient way.


With lots of lovely waterside animal pictures, and a way to protect their home – here’s another reason to check your phone.



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This weekend was spent trying to sort out, and worrying about, problems with my rented flat. On Sunday morning (after little sleep) I remembered Shelter’s housing helpline. It was open and free to call, even from a mobile. During my twenty minute conversation, not only was I given practical advice but also the emotional reassurance I needed to clear my mind and devise a plan of action.


As a fundraiser, it took me back to the many conversations I’ve had with charities who refuse to ask for money from their service users. In some cases this is understandable but, in my opinion, rarely as a blanket rule. Often the information and services offered by charities is better than anything a private or public organisation could provide. This ranges from health information for people and their families diagnosed with an illness, to lunch clubs for lonely older people, to the practical and legal guidance that Shelter offered me.


Myself and other ‘beneficiaries’ are the people who really understand what the charity can offer. We’re the most grateful for their services and the ones who so often would like to say thank you. We understand that running these services cost money and that there will be other people in the future, like us, who need them. Yes, we could go online and find the donation page, but why not contact us for a follow up and include an ask?


I’m watching this space to see whether or not this will come from Shelter…




Photo borrowed from Joshua Mayer

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You’ve probably heard the buzz at the moment about about whether or not people will be wearing poppies to mark the centenary of the start of the First World War.


I have to confess I was pretty baffled by the controversy. What could be more innocent than wearing a paper flower in remembrance, and giving a few pounds to support wounded British servicemen and women? So I did a bit of googling.


I read a range of different objections, from ‘It’ll make me look pro-war’ to ‘I support so many other charities, it’s not fair only to promote one of them’. There seemed to be a lot of attention on what politicians and newsreaders are doing, and less consideration of whether this is a charity worthy of our support – and that’s a great shame.


It’s not that I feel everyone should wear a poppy, or that there’s anything wrong with choosing not to, but it annoys me that these ‘poppy-phobes’ are being so vocal. By shouting about it, and making opting out a thing, they are potentially damaging a vital fundraising appeal. And as far as I can see the only result will be fewer veterans getting support to cope with bereavement or help to live with a disability. We seem to be so busy railing against the poppy appeal, we’re forgetting what it’s all about.


For me, the poppy is simply a sign of gratitude and respect for the millions who gave their lives so that I might have the freedoms I enjoy today – like freedom of expression.


So wear a poppy, or don’t wear a poppy. Give a few pounds or don’t. Just remember who gave you the choice.