And this week’s special guests…

Friday, January 24th, 2014



…are two year 10 work experience students from North London. They’ve been with us for a fortnight and it’s been a blast. There’s a problem though. I haven’t been made a single cup of tea. They’ve been too busy. Here’s how…




You get away from school for two weeks and you learn how the adult world works, what could be better than that?


Then you go back to school afterwards and everyone starts asking you, “what have you learnt?” Well, it all depends on the place you’ve been working at, what skills you have picked up and the people you’ve been working with. I’m glad to say that when I go back to school I will have a lot to say about what I’ve been doing. Unlike my friends working in shops or cleaning cars.


When I started I didn’t know what fundraising companies were and now I know what they do and stand for. I was taught how to make an outdoor ad (below left) and how to get from an itch to a scratch. I learnt how mobile fundraising works and how to persuade people to give. I have also learnt how fundraising companies help charities to raise more money.


It’s been a wonderful two weeks here at Open and it wouldn’t have been possible without the people working here. If I had the chance I would stay here longer, thank you.




“Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life” – Confucius


They say sometimes you just get lucky. And that’s exactly what happened when I stepped into a business which shaped my idea of the word ‘fundraising’. Being sent out into (as my teachers like to call it), “The World of Work” was rather intimidating to begin with, as I was being forced to jump in headfirst. However, I learned more than I could ever have figured out for myself when in school…


From learning that I could carry more than two Sainsbury’s bags and twelve glasses in one go, and that I was allowed to be let loose in the kitchen, to learning how to create my own ad (above right) so that it actually, (I mean actually), works, I had more food for thought than I could have ever imagined – and I was fascinated as to how much effort goes into just one piece of work.


I used to see offices as dreary, gloomy places, with nothing but people and their vacant stares, but just like all myths, this one soon got busted too. I found myself working with all types of people who made me feel as if I were right at home.


Sadly, all good things must come to an end, and I shall be transforming back into the attentive student I thought I always was. Though I’ve learned a few things during my time here at Open, and those would be things that, on a daily basis, I (as so many other people do) overlook. I never took notice as to how each charity approaches fundraising in a different way, or how giving a small amount to someone in need makes all the difference. Most importantly, a skill for life that I thought I could live without was that I could do everything by myself. But, the truth be told, working in a team is more rewarding than working by yourself, since together everyone achieves more.


That’s all from us.


Armands & Rabia

Big dreams for the small screen

Monday, January 13th, 2014

There’s been lots of on and offline chat recently about the engagement levels of supporters who give by mobile. Are they as ‘good’ or as ‘loyal’ as donors who give in other, more traditional ways? Will they give as much? Where are the legacy prospects of the future going to come from?

I worry that some fundamental points are being missed.

Mobile is great because it allows supporters to make a donation in seconds. An emotional response to an appeal can be converted into a gift in an instant.

But it’s not just about that single gift – it’s our job to make sure it doesn’t stop there. We have to make sure that the supporter continues to feel the passion that inspired their first donation and harness their potential as a long-term giver.

That potential is huge. After all we’re talking about a method of communication with an unprecedented open rate. Research tells us that over 90% of texts are opened and read within an hour. We’re in no doubt that this is the case – because when we ask supporters for any form of response, 94% of those that respond do so within half an hour.

So, we need to experiment and try new things if we’re going to really harness the potential of mobile.

This doesn’t mean reinventing the approaches we adopt. In the last few months we’ve been working on strategies and tactics for mobile donors that take their inspiration from the traditional fundraising journeys a lot of us cut our teeth on. We’re looking at supporter motivation, what drives their loyalty and how to raise additional revenue – the real science and theory behind retention.

But because it’s 2014, we’re applying this to the small screen and 160 characters.

And we’re learning a lot.

  • We’re learning that mobile regular givers will give extra cash with their phones if you ask them.
  • We’re learning that asking for a second cash gift via mobile pays off, even if someone didn’t convert after a one-off PSMS gift.
  • We’re learning that mobile-based journeys can reduce the attrition of direct debit supporters.
  • We’re learning that you don’t have to know someone’s name and address to know what motivates them and what sort of supporter they are.
  • We’re learning that click through rates from texts to mobile web are increasing every month because more people use their phones to access the web and we’re getting better at writing text messages.
  • Very importantly, we’re proving that what drives success in your offline cash programme can work in your online or mobile cash programme.

‘Mobile’ as a term is confusing the issue.

We need to focus on good ideas, proven fundraising theory and translating old ideas into new techniques. We also need some humility. Not everything I’ve been part of in the last few months has worked. Some of it has died on its arse. But it doesn’t matter because we need to fail from time to time so that we learn and keep things moving forward.

Paul de Gregorio