‘My Week at Open’: a partnership with London Wildlife Trust to inspire and empower young people

Wednesday, November 4th, 2020

In October 2020 we partnered with the London Wildlife Trust (LWT) as part of their Keeping it Wild project; a project to ‘empower and inspire 600 young people aged 11-25, from backgrounds currently under-represented in natural heritage, to gain vital skills while discovering, conserving and sharing their experiences of the capital’s wild spaces’. 

Working with over fifty young people over two weekends, Richard Young, Creative Director,  and Amy Hutchings, Strategy Director, led a series of in-depth workshops to teach these future campaigners what they need to know about digital marketing – from audience insight to fundraising marketing skills.

For the final week of October, we were joined by nine paid placements from the workshops who applied their skills to create a fundraising campaign for LWT.

The campaign goes live in November.

One of the placements shares their experience.


“Around mid-September, I received an email from the London Wildlife Trust (LWT) inviting me to attend a weekend workshop on digital media and marketing – having recently decided to pursue a career in this direction the decision to attend was a no brainer.

The following two weeks flew by and the weekend of the workshop arrived; it was delivered mostly by the team at Open who made it a really fun, informative, and engaging experience that left me wanting more.

Luckily I didn’t have long to wait! Near the end of the workshop, we were told about another opportunity – a paid training-placement with Open where we’d work on a real-life fundraising campaign for the LWT.

Between the nine of us trainees taking part, our task was to secure membership sign-ups to the LWT, targeting a demographic of married, middle-aged women with young children, living in the suburbs, leading a busy working life, with a love for nature and the outdoors.

To do this we had three different territories to explore:

  • Keep London wild for future generations (conserve and protect London’s biodiversity)
  • Protect your neighbours (conserve and protect London’s wild animals)
  • Escape on your doorstep (offering green spaces across London as a sanctuary)

This was to be done with two Facebook Newsfeed ads for each territory, as well as a landing page and welcome email.

We brainstormed ideas (some good, some bad, and some just plain ugly), settled on the four we felt were strongest and started putting together a slideshow to help flesh out and present the ideas.

4 pm came around fast but we had managed to create a coherent presentation which we were happy with and was well received. We got some really helpful feedback to implement before our first client presentation the following day (YIKES!), but it was time to rest as our first day came to an end.


“Having not had any marketing experience previously this placement has helped me clarify that this is definitely the industry I want to pursue – it’s exciting, impactful, creative, and I want to be a part of it.”


We started day two by acting on the feedback from the previous day and continued fleshing out our four ideas by adding more imagery and copy details, preparing ourselves for the client presentation at 12 pm – here the clients gave each team feedback on their ideas and selecting their two favourites to run with.

We arrived back from our break to the news of which ideas were selected along with some additional feedback, but the hard work had only just begun! It was now time to start creating the first drafts for our two adverts. This involved deciding on the advert design and format our two ideas would follow, and then sourcing suitable pictures and writing the copy – tasks that proved to be deceptively challenging!

We worked on this while getting some much-needed guidance from the super friendly and approachable team at Open along the way, making some decent headway until the next scheduled session at 4 pm.

The third day came around and we were eager to get feedback on our first drafts.

This was mostly positive with suggestions we were totally on-board with, but we had to move quickly in order to implement them. After a frantic few hours, and some guidance and technical help along the way, we got our two adverts almost finished in time for lunch.

We got back from lunch with the intimidating task of completing the landing page and email copy in its entirety before the end of the day. The short deadline was daunting to say the least, but we made a plan, got to work, and again with some guidance from the team at Open we were on our way to creating something we were really happy with.

The third day ended with each group presenting their two adverts to the clients for any final feedback and adjustments. We were glad to hear both our adverts were really well received with only minor adjustments needed, meaning we could focus on finalising the landing page and welcome email copy during our last day.

We felt rather relaxed going into the final day of our placement.

This mainly consisted of all the little final touches and adjustments being pulled together to ensure the adverts and landing page/welcome email copy were completely finished for the client and having a suitable member of the Open team sign each part off. The fact each of the three groups were doing this simultaneously meant that it got quite hectic!

But the prospect of our adverts being finished so soon meant that instead of stress there was an air of excitement, and sure enough, everyone finished their adverts and copy in time.

It was an incredibly satisfying feeling to have worked on a project so intensely with such a quick turnaround, and ending up with something we were genuinely proud of – even more so when considering it’s for such a good cause!

My time on the digital media and marketing training placement is now at an end, and it was an incredibly rewarding and valuable experience. I’ve learnt so much about the creative process involved in creating an advertising campaign, the subtleties needed in writing the ideal copy, the importance of always keeping your target demographic in mind, and too many other things to mention… This wouldn’t have been possible without the help of the incredibly friendly and approachable team at Open, who provided just the right amount of guidance to keep us thinking for ourselves while staying on the right path.

We were also lucky to have some more specific sessions with Laura, Jack, and Alison during the week – giving us some interesting insights into client services, a peek into the technical side of digital marketing, and some much-appreciated life and career advice!

Having not had any marketing experience previously this placement has also helped me clarify that this is most definitely the industry I want to pursue – it’s exciting, impactful, creative, and I want to be a part of it.

– Jamie Mitchell.


Meet the other interns in this short video as they document their week with Open.


COVID or Climate Emergency: what really impacted your fundraising in 2020 and how to plan for success

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2020

It’s not news to tell you coronavirus has dominated fundraising conversations in 2020.

From March this year, the sector faced bleak uncertainty with the threat of declining income, restructures, and impending recession. Some charities took action while others waited it out with varying results.

As predicted, some larger organisations like Macmillan are expecting a multi-million-pound drop in income for flagship fundraising events, but others, like UNICEF, have experienced record-breaking fundraising success.

But are these results purely driven by coronavirus, and what does success really look like in the new sector into which we’re emerging?

How can we ensure other important drivers in charity success like anti-racism, climate emergency, and discrimination are still highlighted when considering covid’s impact?

And with another lockdown on its way, mixed messages from the Government, and uncertainty once again rising, how can we be sure the decisions we are making for the future of our fundraising are the right ones?



How do we know what success looks like in 2020?

Benchmarking is crucial for fundraisers to make the right decisions on what to do next.

By looking at another charity’s performance against your own you can break down what makes such superior performance possible, and then comparing those processes to how your own charity operates, you can implement changes that you know will bring significant improvements.

What worked before as a reliable income stream, face to face for example, now needs to be innovated to continue. Because of the changes in delivery, the outcomes too will change; affecting what success will look like.

How will you know if your fundraising activity is a success if you don’t know what success now looks like?

Nor can we assume that every activity’s outcome in 2020 is because of covid.

For example, Shelter raised £3m from this video in March this year. Was this because of timing and need, or because of their ongoing work to center the beneficiary as the voice of their charity?


What benchmarking can do for you

You’re being asked to re-forecast or even restructure, huge decisions that will have a lasting impact on your organisation, without knowing the bigger picture. That is a huge responsibility to undertake without proper insight or support.

You can either take your best guess or compare your performance and plans with other leading charities – that’s where benchmarking comes in.

By comparing your own performance and activities against that of the UK’s leading charities you can find confidence and clarity that the important decisions you make today will have a positive, lasting impact on what’s to come.

The benefits to benchmarking include identifying performance gaps that need improvement, gain clarity on what actions to take based on what’s working in the wider sector, and improve efficiencies in the activities you’re already doing well.

In the current situation, the benefit to benchmarking is a solid understanding of what success now looks like and how you measure against that; and if not, what you need to do about it.


How to benchmark

Benchmarking is data-driven insight that requires good relationships within the sector, an eye for detail and crunching the numbers, and time to properly analyse and deliver the results.

The components are as follows:

  • Select a product, service or process to benchmark
  • Identify the key performance metrics
  • Choose companies or internal areas to benchmark
  • Collect data on performance and practices
  • Analyse the data and identify opportunities for improvement
  • Adapt and implement the best practices, setting reasonable goals and ensuring charity-wide acceptance

Top tip: to ensure an adequate comparison of data you must compare your charity against more than just a few charities.


We’re here to help

Over the coming months, we’ll be sharing more resources from our Planning team to help you make a solid plan for how to respond to 2020’s challenges in a way that won’t create further problems for you in future.

We’ll be sharing these on our LinkedIn and Twitter accounts – make sure you hit that ‘follow’ button if you haven’t already.


And if you don’t want to go it alone

In previous years we’ve delivered our Charity Benchmarks service to provide UK fundraisers with the information they need to make better decisions, to help raise more money and maximise the impact of their causes.

“A great, insightful report that really does add to our sector knowledge. I’m so pleased we got involved.”

– Joe Jenkins: Executive Director of Engagement & Income Generation, The Children’s Society

In 2020, an annual report won’t cut it.

We too have reflected and adapted, and in partnership with Allan Freeman of Freestyle Marketing have launched the Impact Monitor; a quarterly, fully detailed report to provide fundraising Heads, Directors or their CEO’s with a relevant and timely view of their programme’s performance against other charities.

We’ll prepare a tailored report just for your charity that shows how you perform against the rest of the data set in a few useful areas:

  • Revenues by fundraising area
  • Costs by fundraising area
  • Supporter volumes (new and retained)
  • Recruitment performances and CPAs
  • Retention rates
  • Staffing levels and resource

Through a survey and interviews, we’re also collating more qualitative data about the future:

  • Fundraising plans and priorities
  • Targets and confidence levels
  • Fears for the future
  • Innovation and diversification
  • Team function, culture and morale

In a matter of weeks you will be comparing your performance with the rest of our participants. 


We’ve listened to our sector colleagues and are able to offer all of this at a discount to organisational members of the Chartered Institute of Fundraising. Just £3,450 (exc. VAT).

We’re closing applications to the first round of benchmarking on September 30th with the final few places available for new charities to take part.

To join the other organisations already preparing to be benchmarked or get more information, email Mark Foster (Open) or Allan Freeman (Freestyle Marketing) today.

Together for a Hunger Free Future

Monday, August 10th, 2020

We’re a competitive bunch at Open and we love winning pitches. But we were especially happy last week when the team at the Trussell Trust told us that they’d chosen us to be part of their mission to end the need for food banks.

That’s partly because the Trussell Trust is a bit of a favourite cause at Open’s annual giveathon – we love what they do and we’ve been proud to support them financially over the years. And, of course, it’s an organisation that has responded magnificently to the current crisis.

But we’re mostly pleased – and excited – because the Trussell Trust has asked us to think and work differently. To move beyond simple ‘itch and scratch’ fundraising and develop a programme that will bring together millions of people to create a future where nobody needs to use a food bank.

They know that the easy path to revenue – especially at Christmas – would be to tell a sad story and present a box of food as a simple, affordable solution. But they’re not going to. Because distributing boxes of food isn’t the solution. It’s a tragic but necessary response to the fact that many thousands of families in the UK are going hungry.

Our task, therefore, is to build support for a better Britain. Where the safety net is more robust and where the route out of poverty is easier and more clearly marked. And where handouts are a thing of the past.

It won’t happen quickly. But we’re looking forward to seeing hundreds of local food banks close because everyone can afford their own food – and putting our new client out of business as soon as possible.

Watch this space…