So the last couple of weeks have been a bit of an Open America whirlwind.
It began with a meeting at the end of February with a group of big shot TV producers who had the big idea to ask their A-list celebrity friends (the likes of Alec Baldwin, Tina Fey and Tom Hanks), to take part in a telethon to raise money for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
It was going to be the first major telethon to be broadcast on Facebook using Facebook Live and it was going to be the first telethon that used brand new Facebook Donate functionality, that’s currently only available in the USA.
Plus they wanted to do it quickly. The live date was fixed for four weeks later on March 31st.
While the producers and writers are brilliant at comedy and putting on a live show, they recognised that they needed some help with the fundraising. That’s where Open America came in. A team of Open staff, (Fiona, Ali, James Dawe and me) travelled to New York and set up base in the studio where the telethon was going to be hosted.
I asked a friend who works in TV for advice before we left. She said “show no fear” and “anything is possible”. How right she was. In the ten days between landing and the show starting the team achieved an incredible amount.
But that’s just a list. What we actually did was..
But the main thing I learned is that if you put the right team together, and give them the accountability and responsibility required to deliver, they will deliver a high volume of high quality work that gets results. And it will be a lot of fun.
We’re convinced that we’ll be doing more campaigns that fuse community building and fundraising over the coming months. So if you want to know more about what we did, what we learnt and how we can apply our learnings in the UK, let me know.
Paul de Gregorio
I have a photo on my phone of my dear and departed dog running along the beach on a sunny day. She looks like she’s laughing and I know she was happy – and when I look at the picture I can feel that precious moment once more. It’s a bittersweet photo, but I’m so glad to have it.
We carry hundreds of those moments with us now – all we have to do is look at our phones. But how you would feel about those photos if you knew you were never going to see any of those people – your family and closest friends – again?
Millions of people across the world have left behind them homes that have since been destroyed. Their loved ones have died or disappeared. They have nothing that is familiar or comforting, until they take their phone out of their pocket.
This article about some work the photographer Alex John Beck has done recently for Oxfam renewed my firm belief that feelings can be manipulated, but they can’t be manufactured.
Empathy is so crucial to fundraising. Paint the picture, tug at the heartstrings, justify the outrage – use any and all available detail to pull the donor into the story and make them feel. And remember that sometimes the killer detail – the one that persuades a donor to give – feels the most familiar.
It is the little things that bring us together, after all.
This February, Valentine’s Day got everyone at Open in the mood…
Not like that, you cheeky blog reader, you.
In the mood for raising some cash for charity, of course!
Keen to keep in the spirit of the season, we capitalised on our co-workers’ relationship failures with an exciting game we creatively titled ‘Guess the Ex 2017’.
Think ‘Guess the Baby Photo’ but with more crushed hopes and dreams. And sorry everyone, but definitely not as cute.
Our winning guesser, who should probably get a job at Match.com or something, matched over half the couples correctly, and nominated Refuge as their charity of choice.
As fundraisers go, it sort of went off like the perfect relationship – bit of fun, we learnt something about each other and crucially, no one got hurt.
Hopefully we all encounter enough heartbreak in 2017 to do it all again next year…
Yours forever swiping right,