Open Fundraising


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Are brands paying more attention to charities these days? And more importantly, why?


It seems that, to meet the needs of increasingly ethically minded consumers, brands are looking within, reconnecting with their purpose. And there are some great campaigns as part of this trend.


We have Kenco’s ‘coffee vs gangs’ campaign. We have ‘Building Society, Nationwide’ a campaign delivered through poetry that cleverly spins their name into something more meaningful – helpful in re-building trust in the financial sector. There are countless more examples.


In the third sector, we need to consider the effect this ‘brand-as-cause’ trend could have on our fundraising. After all, these brands are the competition of the future, with doing good now as easy as shopping for groceries.


But before you despair at the thought of competing with big brands and their bigger budgets, have a watch of the new Pepsi advert. The ad was pulled just hours after launching over complaints it trivialises social justice movements, in particular the Black Lives Matter campaign. I’ll let you make up your own mind on that.


Pepsi may have, in their own words, ‘missed the mark’ on this one, but they’re not alone. In a world where stock cubes are the solution to homelessness, it’s clear that knowing your organisation’s purpose is more important than ever – because making it up won’t wash for a minute.


It’s not about what you do or how you do it – but WHY you exist. And the good news for our sector is, our WHY really matters. It even saves lives. Commercial brands have a way to go before they can compete with that.






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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.



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“OK, Tom Hanks walks across the stage and thanks Nora Jones. Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin will be on next – after the tape of Usher and The Roots.”


This is all a little bit crazy…


For the last week, Open’s 5-person volunteer team has been camped out in a windowless room at a huge TV studio in New York preparing the fundraising for Facebook Live’s first big telethon – in aid of our client the American Civil Liberties Union.




Like all good fundraisers, we tried to calculate how much we can raise. But we don’t know denominators or numerators. How many people will watch a four hour show on Facebook? How many will give? How much?


We don’t know. But we do know it’s going to be exciting. So please, tune in at midnight in the UK and watch it all happen.