Something for nothing

Thursday, September 29th, 2011


The other day I finished reading Paul Carr‘s ‘Bringing nothing to the party‘. It was an OK read, all about the dot com boom, crash and subsequent boom. I think that’s how it went, anyway.


One story in this book was all about Alex Tew’s Million Dollar Homepage. You can read all about it here, but essentially, to help fund his university education, Alex sold pixels on his website for $1 each. Word spread, advertisers snapped them up, an internet phenomena was born, and 21-year-old Alex was $1,000,000 richer.


Now, I’m sure there have been many attempts to copy it since, but recently I’ve spotted a couple of charity versions too. Firstly, Evan Riley is trying to raise £150,000 for Barnardo’s. He’s slightly cheaper than Alex, at £1 for 10 pixels. I do worry though, that promising to create a page AFTER he’s received all the money might be his downfall. People like to see what they’re getting. Either way, it’s a good cause, and he’s only raised 0.01% so far, so why not bung him a couple of quid?


A more exciting take on this idea popped up on twitter this morning. In a partnership between Dulux and UNICEF, ‘Own a Colour‘ does exactly what it says on the tin (sorry to mix up my DIY brands). For £1 a triangle, you get to name your colour, leave a message and even give your colour as a gift. Totally pointless, but it still sounds pretty fun! Also there’s 16.7 million colours. That’s a lot of money. There’s already some famous faces on there and over £13,000 raised. So if you’re more of a UNICEF kinda guy than Barnardo’s, maybe send your £1 thattaway.



All change

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

What better way to battle through a birthday-induced hangover than browsing the internet while sat at work? I cannot think of any either…

Whilst this may not be a super productive use of time, it did allow me to stumble across an article on the BBC website. It told the story of how Google was successfully lobbied to include South Sudan on its maps service. Now why is that relevant to fundraising and charities? Well the mobilisation took place on a website called which allows people to create petitions and for other people to lend support – these petitions are then used to lobby governments, businesses and organisations for change. People who sign petitions share their actions with friends on Facebook and the viral benefits of the internet really kick in. A lot of people are using this service. 400k joined last month.

How can charities use this service? How about engaging donors in non-financial actions? Allowing donors to promote charities’ messages to their friends? But mostly, making change.

Here is an example of a live petition

And here is an example of a successful petition

Paul S

My bank made me feel special

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011


I never thought I’d say that, but it’s true, so I’ll say it again – my bank made me feel special.


A few weeks ago, a big white envelope dropped through my door. This bit didn’t make me feel special – I assumed it was something boring like the Natwest magazine, or an update on some smallprint to do with my current account. But as soon as I got inside I was embarrassingly excited. For there, inside the envelope, was a very official looking ‘Personal Account Statement prepared for Richard Young’.


That’s what it said.


Now we work on projects all the time where we super-personalise things to make our donors feel special and important, but no-one’s ever done it to me. And guess what, it really works.


And it didn’t end there. Inside are 12-odd pages of personal data from the last year. Graphs and charts all about ME and MY money. When I spent the most (surprisingly, not December). Where I spent the most (unsurprisingly, Topman). When I’m richest and when I’m poorest. And it all looks alright. It’s not the most beautiful piece of design ever, but it’s in colour and it’s easy to read and understand.


And do you know what? I imagine in a year’s time I’m still going to be banking with Natwest, and looking forward to the arrival of my second personalised report.