Friday, 24 December 2010

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Merry Christmas!

Unfortunately this isn't the obligatory, 'We're closed for Christmas' blog post. You'll have to wait two more days for that.

However, this is much more exciting! As yesterday's slightly weird blog post alluded to, our clients (hopefully some of whom are reading this right now!) have been/are/will be receiving their Open Christmas presents very soon!

Not to give the game away to anyone who hasn't had theirs yet, but our card/present/frame combo is all about heroes and the people who inspire us.

The reason there might be quite a lot of activity on here however, is because there's £500 up for grabs (for the charity of your choice – doesn't have to be your own!) to whoever can guess the names of Open's heroes. There's 15 to guess inside your Christmas cards. You can submit your answers here and we'll let you know the winners and all the answers in the new year!

Happy guessing!


Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Holding out for a hero

If you're reading this as a client, you might have been sent here by your recently-received Christmas present (if you're very keen)!

What you're looking for will be up here soon, do not worry.

If you have no idea what I'm talking about, keep an eye on the post...

Sorry this is so cryptic.


Monday, 13 December 2010

Word Art

As a designer, there's always been a nagging need and desire in the back of my head to make everything I do as beautiful and as polished and as perfect as humanly possible.

Then charities came along...

Now, relatively often, things need to look home-made, rough-round-the-edges, grubby. Real.

And 'real' is the key here. The nature of the beast that is 'charity' is that people - donors, campaigners, supporters – don't want to see their money going to waste. So, if some flashy, foil-blocked, 400gsm, full-bleed, die-cut, ever-so-beautiful piece of communication drops through your door asking for £15, chances are you aren't gonna part with your hard-earned cash.

Now, this isn't rocket science. It's nothing more than common sense. The things we're sending into people's lives need to be believable more than anything else. But at a time when lots of people are more concerned with 'building their brand' (read: make the logo bigger), than creating something that actually works, it's not always the easiest argument to have.

The one thing you can't argue against though is results. Throughout 2010, we've produced 'inside track' communications for WWF, World Jewish Relief and Medical Foundation to name but three that have all performed unbelievably well. The most interesting thing about all of this, though, is the fact that these photocopied, straight-from-the-desk-of-the-CEO packs work best for high value donors.

When I first started at Open, I found it absurd that those people who give you the most money end up getting the least beautiful communications. Logic dictates it should be the other way round – surely you get what you pay for? Logic doesn't necessarily build successful campaigns though, reason does. And when you think about it, a piece of communication that is believable and real and personal can only serve to bring your most valued donors even closer to the charity. Mass-produced will work for some, but the cream of your donor crop need to feel special, wanted and close.

Don't worry about me though – as we begin to meet a lot of donors online and through their phones, there's lots of beautiful design still to be done too!


PS if anyone wants to sponsor me for volunteering at Crisis this Christmas, feel free!

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

The file you can't print

Here's an interesting idea. Create a file that cannot be printed. Therefore saving millions of trees-worth of paper. And what would call you this file? The .wwf of course!

Not sure how well it would go down if we started sending our clients pdfs they couldn't print out, scribble over and send back (you know who you are...)!


Monday, 6 December 2010

Missing the point

For those of you on Facebook (I'm assuming that's everyone), you may have noticed several of your friends mysteriously transforming into cartoons over the last week. It appears this trend originally started in Greece as an attempt to remove all human faces from Facebook for a short while. Nothing wrong with that – sounds quite funny.

However, somewhere along the line the message got changed to “Change your FB picture to a cartoon from your childhood. The goal is not to see a human face on FB until Monday (Dec 6th). Join the fight against child abuse & copy and paste to your status!”

Now, this somehow became associated with the NSPCC, and a quick search of Facebook groups also shows a version for Unicef (I'm sure there are more too). Of course, none of these charities are behind this 'campaign', and despite NSPCC tweeting otherwise I'm not convinced it's much help to any of them.

Not including the inevitable Daily Mail paedophile story (which I won't even give the credit of a link to) there's been plenty of other negative press around this latest fad too, and not without good reason.

It's great to have supporters doing 'work' for your charity, and spreading the word and sharing with their friends and all. But when the charity has no control over the message, it all gets a little messy. Of course, if the original message had a less flimsy call to action than "Join the fight against child abuse", the shit-storm that is now inevitably following would be easier to deal with. "Change your profile picture and make a Christmas gift to the NSPCC". Now that's a status update worth sharing.

Not that anywhere near as many people would have done it – but it'd certainly be a better badge of honour, a show of how good a person you are. Sorry, but everyone thinks child abuse is bad. It's like changing my profile picture to a rainbow to show that Hitler was a baddie.

However, is there something charities can take from this apparent 'show of support'? It's certainly a sign that people care on some level. That small, easy actions increase engagement. I'm sure the however-many-hundred-thousand people gathered in the Facebook group could be convinced to join the NSPCC group with some gentle nudging. Those over 12, at least.

But would it work if it had come direct from the charity, or does it HAVE to be peer-to-peer to succeed? If we asked everyone to change their profile picture to a tiger for WWF, would Facebook be covered in stripy cats? Probably not. And therein lies the problem – the unpredictability of using Facebook and other social media sites to build real, long-term, solid support.

I'm sure it can be done, but we might need to come up with our own idea... and wait for the cartoons to disappear, of course.


Monday, 29 November 2010

Sell, sell, sell, sell, sell

When working with charities, it's sometimes too easy to get caught up in the fact that we're helping so many people all over the world. Whenever I tell people what I do, it's often followed by, "saving the world".

"I'm a designer. I work with charities. Y'know, saving the world."

Which is true, I guess, to a certain degree. But what we (I) often forget we're doing is actually selling. Ok, we're not selling climate-changing cars or fast food to children – our selling is a lot more wholesome – but we are certainly selling ideals, and beliefs and the opportunity for people to feel good about themselves.

Now, although what we're selling is different, the way we do it needn't be. Not that a child sponsorship ad will look similar to a washing machine ad necessarily, but there's certainly key areas of overlap.

The image at the top of this post is an ad by Ogilvy and Mather, from I don't know when – certainly before I was born – but so much of it still rings true for creating an ad that WORKS. An ad that SELLS. Click on it and have a read. None of it is shocking or scary or new, but it's good to remind ourselves of what works sometimes!

I'm now going to go and write some 10-word headlines showing the product benefit and containing the brand name set against some pictures that tell stories, and if we don't win our pitch on Wednesday I'll blame Mr Ogilvy. Or my lack of a Big Idea...


Thursday, 25 November 2010

Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright

Hate to admit it, but sometimes a picture really does tell a thousand words. And while our tiger appeals for WWF have been going great guns recently, this image is another timely reminder of what we stand to lose if we don't take action fast.

It scooped an award in this year's Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at the National History Museum. But also featuring in the Endangered Wildlife category was the funny-looking little critter below.

He lives deep in the jungles of Borneo. He only comes out at night. And I'm secretly hoping that 2011 is WWF's Year of the Tarsier.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

The ultimate personalisation

If there's one thing I've learnt since being at Open, it's that personalisation works. But for those times when it seems difficult to think of new and interesting ways to make connections to people, I will remember this amazing Arcade Fire video. Take two minutes out and try it, it's ACTUALLY amazing. Your own music video. The ultimate in personalisation.

Now, how do we translate this to an envelope..?


Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Teach Once. Learn Twice.

This is my daughter's class. And the class next door. Today I told them about tigers and orang-utans and learned a couple of things in the process.

i) Pester power is there to be harnessed for charities who can send volunteers and good products into schools.

ii) Primary school teachers are naturals when it comes to getting a response. I struggled to explain tiger conservation for a couple of minutes. Then my host said, "Who wants to stop the nasty men killing tigers." Sixty hands went up.


Friday, 12 November 2010

Time for a new look?

Rik Mayall just shouted 'well done students' at us in the street and punched the air.

While flattering in one sense (someone thinks I am both young and revolutionary) it is a bit worrying that Tim, Mark, Rebecca and I were on the way back from meeting a new client and, in our eyes, dressed relatively smartly.


Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Short and Sweet

Tim and James brought me back a souvenir from the IFC in Amsterdam. Luckily, it wasn’t clogs. Instead, it was a skinny book with a bad cover. But now I’m stuck into it, I can see why every copywriter should have it on their bookshelf.

Tiny Essentials of Writing for Fundraising is blunt, opinionated and doesn’t suffer fools gladly. That’s what makes it good. I especially like the chapter called 'Too Many Words, Too Little Meaning'. After all, less is often more when it comes to copy – and sometimes, a few well-chosen words are all it takes to tell a story.

Just ask Ernest Hemingway. He once said that one of his greatest pieces of work consisted of six sad little words:

'For sale: baby shoes, never worn.'

I reckon Ernest would have written a cracking appeal letter.


Friday, 5 November 2010

Top Tips

A sweet way of encouraging donations, as seen at my lovely local coffee shop. Just goes to show that giving people options and making them think about where they put their money is a great means of engagement – and one that's working wonders in our current street prospecting campaign for WWF.


Thursday, 4 November 2010

Another neat idea...

This time from Wieden + Kennedy London. Screensavers and LEDs show employees how much energy they are using at work. Nothing massively new there, I hear you cry. However, for all the energy W+K save, a school in Nairobi will be provided with solar power! I'd certainly turn my lamp off if the energy savings went somewhere as worthwhile as that.

You can read all about it here.


Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Look after the pennies...

In a post not dissimilar to Hannah's, here's a new charity initiative called Pennies. Essentially, and at its most basic, if you buy your £9.95 pizza from Domino's online with your credit card, you will be given the option to 'round it up' to £10 and give that extra 5p to charity. According to Design Week, "A second online retailer is set to follow before Christmas, before the project rolls out to chip-and-pin purchases in store." Neat.


Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Online Giving Gets Real

When it comes to donating to charity, there’s something vaguely unsatisfying about doing it online. Sure, it’s quick, easy and painless. But it’s also not much fun – and there’s none of the feel-good glow you get from rattling your cold, hard cash loudly into a charity bucket.

So here to change the face – or at least, the interface - of online giving is Nadanu. This New York-based web platform mimics the experience of real-life giving, offering donors the chance to drop virtual coins into an eCharityBox (or onto an eOfferingPlate for churches) and watch them fill up as time goes by.

Simple idea. Satisfaction guaranteed.


Monday, 1 November 2010

The tidiest this room will ever be

After a week of hammering, drilling and much disturbance (so I hear - i was on holiday), our new studio space is nearing completion! Now, who do I talk to about getting a door..?


Thursday, 28 October 2010

Someone needs shooting...

Either it's me, because this Facebook ad is well targeted, or it's the person who did the targeting.

Either way, I feel a bit depressed.


Tuesday, 26 October 2010

And another thing...

Every now and then, someone scribbles on some copy that you can't start a sentence with a conjunction. Apparently, it contravenes the age-old rules of grammar.

Well so does the word of God. So there.

This wonderful nugget comes courtesy of Mr George Smith. If you have anything at all to do with writing to people to ask for money then you should buy his little book. And his big book.


Thursday, 21 October 2010

Breaking down the wall...

We're not actually closed, but with James and Tim out of the country, the builders are in knocking through to next door and our new creative studio.

It's all a bit dusty at the moment, but it'll be worth it when we have our new drum kit and account-team-sensitive trapdoor...


Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Hello Amsterdam...

We're off the IFC in Amsterdam to see the cutting edge of fundraising. Or, to be more precise, we're off to somewhere that is to Amsterdam what Luton is to London to see what the cutting edge of fundraising was last year when people had to apply to talk about it.

As well as worshiping at the feet of the Elischer, we'll be doing a couple of quick talks about our WWF Tiger thing at the SOFII workshops and, I hope, getting in some nice long runs along the beach.

Anyway, in the unlikely event that you are here looking for more information about Open, can I recommend that you don't bother visiting our frankly embarrassing website and instead call me on +44 7768 398482. Or, better still, call Tim on +44 7967 373174 – he's much more charming than I am.

Then we can buy you a drink and say hello.


Join our movement, else we'll blow you up...

Crazy advert from 10:10. Nothing like a convincing argument to get people to do something, eh...

Might have to try that one. Letter bomb in a reminder letter? Anthrax in a £1 pack? Maybe not.

UPDATE>>> 10:10 apologise for REALLY BAD video, although it might be a little too late as Sony distance themselves from campaign. Woops.


Thursday, 14 October 2010

Hands up for Burma

Here is an interesting campaign idea from Amnesty International, especially since our Christmas appeal for Christian Aid – on a very similar subject – is winging its way to the printers as we speak.

With 2,200 political prisoners in Burma, and thousands more exiled to the Thai-Burma border, AI are collecting 5,000 photos for their petition. All the photos will be collected and taken to the summit meeting of political leaders from South East Asia in Viet Nam at the end of October – the Association of South East Asian nations summit (ASEAN).

What's interesting about it though, is the writing of one prisoner's name on your hand. We've been talking a lot lately at Open about giving donors the choice of where their money goes. This petition allows you to physically pick out and align yourself to one real person, creating, not so much a sense of ownership, but certainly a strong bond and sense of responsibility.

At a time when signing an online petition can be super-quick, yet super-impersonal, this is a real nice piece of supporter engagement in action. You can watch the video to accompany the campaign at the end of this post, after some photos of Open standing with the people of Burma.

Tim stands in solidarity with Khun Dee De

Tom stands in solidarity with Zarganar

Hannah stands in solidarity with Khun Bedu

Richard stands in solidarity with Su Su Nway

Folake stands in solidarity with Mie Mie

Caty stands in solidarity with Htay Kywe

Sinead stands in solidarity with Zaw Htet Ko Ko

James stands in solidarity with Khun Kawrio

Freedom In Your Hands from Amnesty International on Vimeo.


Thursday, 7 October 2010

Samaritans are on the phone...

...this very minute. What good fortune I am still at work for some live blogging.

They are very grateful for my donation of £250 back in April (thanks Tim and James).

He's now talking a lot about something they're doing with schools... thankfully his voice is quite boring so I can type whilst half-listening...

I can feel an ask coming on...

He's still grateful for my previous donation, and... £12 a month please!

Oo, he takes rejection well, but he isn't defeated yet - £4 a month, maybe, Mr Young?

Sorry Samaritans, but thanks for the call anyway - made me feel very wanted, and much richer than I actually am! Oh, the life of a mid-value donor...


Monday, 4 October 2010

Nice Round Numbers...

After a few Pakistan-related wobbles here at Open, we were very pleased to hear that one of our emergency appeals has absolutely obliterated its target and hit a cool million in donations – as well as providing a major shot in the arm for a climate campaign. Hurrah.


Thursday, 30 September 2010

If only it was always this easy...

At a time when we're super busy with Christmas appeals and reminders, everything is suddenly so much easier when you get an amazing story and amazing photos to go with it. Step forward Concern Worldwide.

Not wanting to give anything away, this is Babu, who sleeps on the streets of Dhaka in Bangladesh, and is living under the constant threat of theft, rape and kidnap. The rest writes itself (or at least makes it much easier for Hannah to write).

Here's some more of the amazing photos at our disposal...


All photos by Marc Turner, Dhaka, January 2010

Friday, 24 September 2010

Jaded? Moi?

Last night we dragged our broken, hung-over bodies to a posh hotel for the Third Sector Awards. After three hundred unbroken hours of categories that I really didn't understand, we were presented with a 'High Commendation' for our WWF tiger campaign.

Luckily, WWF also bagged best website (with no help from us whatsoever) and made the whole event worthwhile.

Must sleep now.


Thursday, 23 September 2010

You're going to need a bigger boat...

Last year, we celebrated our first birthday on board The Lapwing. It was great, so we did it again for our second...

And Richard hugged a surprisingly accommodating Sinitta as he staggered out of the long bar...

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Now we are two...

For someone who makes a living writing stuff and never knows when to shut up, I'm at a bit of a loss to know what to say today.

I could do the whole 'Back when we started in Tim's spare bedroom we never thought...' kind of thing. But it just sounds lame. So instead, I'm going to adopt my two of my favourite strategies – delegation and procrastination. I'll ask everyone in the company for their favourite moment of the last year and post them tomorrow along with a picture of us all.

In the meantime, though, everyone here would like to thank the wonderful organisations who've trusted us to generate the love and the money they need to change the world. And Tim and I would like to thank the wonderful people – both inside Open and out – who have helped us do it. You know who you are.


Friday, 27 August 2010

The 30 second challenge

Time is a barrier to giving. Which is why anything that helps speed up giving helps increase response. Premium micro-donations are proof of point.

Donating on-line can be fairly torturous. It takes time. It's utterly infuriating. Well not unless you're our friends at PayPal. These guys know what they're doing. It took less than 30 seconds for me to donate to the Flood Appeal today – and that included Gift Aid.

Give it a go.

And thanks PayPal and Mission Fish for getting involved.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

One major donor you'd want to hold onto...

Sticking with our recent Big Brother theme...

Friday, 20 August 2010

Self Moderation in Action...

Tim weighs in. Ouch.God bless the minority of good souls like this.And God, if you fancy smiting a few people...