Is this any good?

Monday, January 15th, 2018

We get asked this a lot. And it’s a tough question to answer.

First of all, it quickly leads to more questions. Is it any good compared to what? To your competitors? To other charities your size? To the sector? To similar programmes?

And once you’ve answered those questions, you quickly run up against the fact that the data isn’t there. And where it is, it’s probably not measured in the same way. So you end up comparing an apple to an orange – if you’re lucky.

Hopefully, though, we’re about to change that.

Together with Allan Freeman (Freestyle Marketing), we’ve been working on a new benchmarking service called ‘Giving Clarity’ – and we launched it this week.

It’s been a lengthy process involving extensive discussion with some of the largest UK charities and our key launch partner, the Institute of Fundraising. But now it’s good to go and we’re rather excited.

By collating data on stuff like revenue, staffing and donor volumes (to name but a few), Giving Clarity offers charity staff at all levels a way make an accurate appraisal of their performance, identify issues and compare themselves against the market.

The service also offers a look at qualitative data like strategic direction – and the impact of current events like GDPR.

On top of this – and what sets Giving Clarity apart – is the ability to chop and visualise the data however you want using Tableau Reader software.

There’s a brochure and more information here  but we’re looking to get as many organisations on board as possible right now. And because we know just how busy you are, we’ve made the process of supplying data as simple as humanly possible. We’ll do the analysis in April and participants will then be invited to a conference in May 2018, where key insights will be presented in our first report.

It’s a fantastic opportunity for everyone to look at how they – and the sector as a whole – are performing. And to know that we’re doing all we can to fight the good fight. So please be part of this and contact Lucy Edwards on 020 7490 9930 / or Allan Freeman at



A welcome new conversation #IFC2017

Tuesday, October 24th, 2017

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As the dust (sand, really) settles from IFC 2017, a surge of energy has swept across Open.


Despite our digitally connected world, nothing beats being in the same space as our peers from across the world to share, listen and debate.


The theme was ‘A New Conversation’ and Jeremy Heimans’ opening plenary hit the mark with his progressive thinking about building movements with impact. If you weren’t there you can watch it back here.


We also loved Zack Exley and Kenneth Pennington’s Big Room Session News from the Resistance: Big Organising and Beyond. At their session last year no one would have believed what we’ve since seen in American politics. But in that time we’ve been privileged to work with the ACLU, fighting back, and it was great to see Michelle Ehrhardt (Deputy Director of Membership) up on the stage with them discussing a vision for a post-Trump world. Check out their joint grassroots movement People Power here.


Finally Jo Wolfe teamed up with Paul de Gregorio to run a Masterclass and two workshops about Open and Breast Cancer Care’s experience of using mobile strategically in fundraising. 2017 felt like the right year to converge our conversations about mobile and digital – and as Paul keeps saying…


Mobile is Digital, Digital is Mobile.


There really is no distinction. Drop Paul a note if you’re interested to hear more.




No Tain, no gain

Thursday, October 12th, 2017



In case you didn’t know, the role of planning in any ad agency is “to embrace the consumer as partners in the process of developing advertising*”.


I think it’s fair to say that as the giving public becomes more diverse, more demanding and have more choice the art and science of outstanding planning in our sector requires even more skilled people.


And great planners are hard to find.


Which is why I’m over the moon that Tain Joliffe recently joined Open as a Strategy Director.


Tain has been working in the charity sector for fourteen years, for a diverse range of organisations and an equally diverse number of causes.


Organisations such as the Save the Children, RSPCA, The Labour Party, LLDC, NSPCC, and Unicef have benefited from her problem-solving, people-centred and creative strategising.


And as you’ll see if you get to meet her, she’s awesome.


If you want to learn more about Tain, and her thinking, have a read of this month’s Fundraising Magazine – she’s the agent provocateur.




* Truth, lies & advertising, The art of account planning, Jon Steel, 1998