Innovation in gifting, with Unicef’s Lucy Sandford!

Wednesday, December 12th, 2018
Paddington's Parcels thank you cards. innovation in gifting.

We took a minute to chat to Lucy Sandford, Direct Marketing Manager of eCommerce at Unicef UK, to get the inside scoop on innovation in gifting and how a new partnership with Paddington Bear will deliver inspired gifts to children all over the world!

So, why Paddington Bear? How did the partnership come about?

Well, Paddington was officially given his new role as Unicef’s Champion for Children in 2017 when his PR agency approached us to partner with them on the Paddington 2 movie.

For us, this was an amazing opportunity. He’s such a well-known and beloved character and we really wanted to tap into that warm feeling and nostalgia.

Plus, Paddington just makes sense as a Unicef ambassador. His kindness, tolerance and perseverance in the face of adversity (and marmalade-related mishaps), make him the perfect champion for children!

So we put our heads together at Unicef and came up with an exciting way to activate the partnership for fundraising.

What was your ideation process? You already had the Paddington Bear partnership, and you wanted to incentivise sales through the online shop?

We’re really lucky to have an in-house innovation team at Unicef UK, which is where the idea of Paddington’s Parcels was born. We also worked with our Creative Content Team and the Paddington team to develop the beautiful assets.

We started by exploring fundraising products for families. Unicef is a children’s charity, but we don’t have many products in our portfolio that are specifically geared towards families. It’s challenging to mobilise this cash and time poor audience, especially at Christmas, so we knew we’d need to come up with something truly special!

We took inspiration from the shoebox appeal that many of us remembered from when we were school kids. We wanted to bring the tangibility of filling a shoebox for a child into the digital era.

Unicef has a great deal of experience with virtual giving (our Inspired Gifts range) – albeit with a different proposition and target market. So we used that as a starting point for an MVP (minimum viable product) approach and created Paddington’s Parcels in about two months!

This is a great digital-first campaign! How does it fit in with your retail strategy? Will we see more of Paddington?

Over the past few months, we have really focussed on turning Trading at Unicef into a digital first, e-commerce programme. We have big plans for growth and, without a high street presence, we’re really pursuing online opportunities.

And, yes. Paddington’s Parcels in 2018 was an MVP, so keep an eye out for next Christmas and an even bigger experience! Who knows, maybe we can even make it work year-round.

And what about the wider organisation – how did you get buy-in from fundraising, innovation and everyone else at Unicef UK?

Fortunately for us, everyone loves Paddington, and once we created some adorable videos and visuals, it wasn’t a difficult sell!

And here at Unicef UK, we have KPIs on testing new products and a “fail fast” culture so it was easy to take people along on the journey. There is no such thing as failure. You either succeed or you learn!

But most importantly… how’s it going? When do we get to see all the exciting results?

It’s going well! For a new fundraising product in its first year, we are seeing very promising results. Plus, we have lots of plans for the future of Paddington’s Parcels to make it even bigger and better – so watch this space!

We’ve also been really pleased to see the comments on social media. People have responded really well to the product, which isn’t always the case when you put new fundraising ideas out there!


Go check out Paddington’s Parcels and grab a thank you card for a child in your life! (Or, you know… yourself). 

Get in quick – it’s only live until Christmas Day!

Open works with Unicef UK across their fundraising programmes, helping to raise millions of pounds a year for children in danger. We absolutely LOVE this new take on incentivising virtual gifts with the much-loved bear.

Good, fast and free. Soon you can pick all three!

Wednesday, December 5th, 2018

At the heart of good fundraising is an intimate understanding of the supporter.

And I think we all know that as the world around us changes at ever increasing speed, public expectations, perceptions and passions for causes are changing, too.

How do you keep track of what the public thinks of your fundraising programme? How do you sense check whether that new fundraising idea actually has an audience willing to support it? How do you know you’re asking for support in the right channels at the right time?

The tools are there, but often they don’t come cheap. Or they don’t come quick. Or, sometimes, they simply aren’t very good.

Which is why we’re really excited to be working with GlobalWebIndex to bring their incredible skills to our sector – for free.

We love GlobalWebIndex

If you haven’t used it before, GlobalWebIndex is a super accurate, up-to-date and granular intelligence platform providing brands with detailed insight into the perceptions and digital behaviours of their consumers. And they do this in 44 countries around the world.

GlobalWebIndex has grown rapidly by providing commercial brands with genuinely useful and actionable insight and now they want to bring their skills to help fundraisers around the world.

The team at GlobalWebIndex has asked Open to help recruit a gang of willing fundraisers to help inform and participate in the development of a brand new charity dataset.

Together we want to ensure that the dataset (accessed via GlobalWebIndex’s super intuitive and informative online platform) will be as useful as possible in helping you better serve, and fundraise from, your supporters.

This is where you come in. We need volunteers to take part in a series of interviews and workshops with the folks at GlobalWebIndex to help them understand your needs and challenges.

In return, they will develop a charity dataset and make it available to the sector for FREE!

In my mind, that’s an amazing way to help us all.

Please do get involved by dropping them an email on:


Now We Are Ten

Thursday, October 11th, 2018


Just over ten years ago, Tim and I did something that a lot of people thought was a bit nuts. We left our jobs and set up a new company with the express intention of ‘bringing people together to change the world’.

Unfortunately, Lehman Brothers had a rather less conscious plan to change the world. They went under a few days later taking the world economy with them.

Since then, it’s been a bit of roller-coaster for everyone. And at the risk of being less than festive, the immediate future doesn’t look like it’s going to be much fun either.

But today, we’re going to forget about all that and celebrate the fact that we didn’t just light a candle in the darkness. We lit a firework.

We’re going to celebrate the fact that over the course of ten years, more than a hundred people have found useful, meaningful and gainful employment at Open. And those people have helped shepherd a ton of money from people who want to do good to people who need some good.

Along the way we’ve invented some cool stuff, set up more companies and given away £387,000 of actual cash to good causes chosen by our people – tens of thousands of which went to match their personal generosity.

We’ve also (and I’m bragging on behalf of the team here) given away quite a lot of our time & talent. In particular, we’ve been on point when the world gets properly shitty. When wars, floods, famines, earthquakes and tsunamis tear communities apart we’ve downed tools and got busy – for the DEC and a bunch of others. And we’ve done it for free.

There have been late nights. There have been tantrums. There have been drunken escapades, sober escapades, quite a few babies and a marriage. There have been record-breaking mailpacks, stadiums full of people, actors, pop stars, the odd lawyer, a bunch of awards, six IWITOTs and nine crazy Christmas parties. A great many pizzas, bottles of beer, bananas and cans of diet coke have been consumed. Hundreds of cakes have been baked and sold. Thousands of miles have been run, cycled and sponsored. And Lydia has worn both a penguin onesie and a banana costume to work. On the tube.

There has also been, very recently, a very welcome and bloodless coup during which our brilliant leadership team, led by Lucy, has completely taken over the day-to-day running of the company – leaving Tim and me to get out there and make as much mischief as we like.

So if you need help this afternoon, sorry. We’ll all be on a canal boat having a party. Because despite it all, we have a lot to celebrate.