Aw shucks…

Thursday, September 26th, 2019

People (not just my mum) have been saying some very lovely things about our 2019 Charity Benchmarks Report. So we’re allowing ourselves a quick not-humblebrag and a reminder that you can get a copy of the report here.

Normal service will be resumed soon – when we’ll blogging about some of the more granular analysis that we undertook.





Looking Both Ways

Monday, September 16th, 2019

This Thursday we’ll publish the second edition of Charity Benchmarks – which we do in happy partnership with Allan Freeman. You can sign up to get a copy of the report HERE.

I wish I could say that year two has been smoother, easier and more straightforward than year one. But it hasn’t. Benchmarking is hard. And we didn’t exactly make it easier on ourselves by adding a whole new section to the project.

You see, last year we looked at all the data that sat behind over £1bn of charity income and asked our participants some survey questions about how they expected things to go over the coming months and years.

It was, I think, fascinating stuff. But we had a nagging feeling that it wasn’t telling the whole story of our changing sector.

So this year, we decided that in addition to looking at what had already happened, we’d scan the horizon a bit more. We spoke at length to sixteen senior fundraising leaders and asked them what they thought was going on in the market and how it would play out. 

The results make for uncomfortable reading at times. Demographics, technology, consumer expectations, commercial competition, data ownership, internal culture, capability, leadership, governance and control all got an airing in a series of wide-ranging discussions – a summary of which we’ll publish later in the week.

Interestingly, the hard data is less dramatic. There have been some shifts – far fewer participants hit their targets last year, for example – but they tend to be incremental rather than radical. Which is kind of the problem.

To use the tired but helpful boiling frog analogy, the water hasn’t got that much warmer over the last twelve months. But we hope that, together, we’re helping the sector see the flames under the saucepan.






Happy Birthday Everyone!

Thursday, September 12th, 2019


As per about this time for the whole of the previous decade, we’re shutting early to celebrate Open’s birthday. Our resident chefs will cook, our resident DJs will play and our resident free-bar troublemakers will doubtless make some memorable trouble.

My contribution to proceedings, meanwhile, is to write a blog post reflecting on where we’ve been and what comes next. And as we come to the close of year eleven, that looks scary and exciting in equal measure.

Outside Open, the country and particularly its leaders seem to be losing their collective shit while the fundraising sector struggles with a growing realisation that we might all be frogs and the water’s suddenly feeling hot. Within Open, meanwhile, things are changing fast. What we do, the channels we do it in and the people we do it for are all very different from when we started back in the teeth of the 2008 financial crisis. It’s been quite a ride.

But today isn’t a time for raging anxiety or strategic musings. We’ll be doing that on Monday ahead of our benchmarks launch.

Instead, I’m just going to say – for the eleventh time – a huge thank you to absolutely everyone who’s been part of our small but determined effort to bring people together to change the world. You’re amazing – and you’ve never been needed more.