Wednesday, 31 August 2011

If you're wondering where we've gone...

...we're now over here on our lovely new website.

Not that we've worked out how to blog there yet.

But have a look around, find out what we actually do, and someone will be along to blog shortly. (Picture shamelessly stolen from Gaping Void. Sorry.)


Sunday, 7 August 2011

Friday, 5 August 2011

Little Room

I'm at home trying to write our website.

I have 120 words to tell the 'Open Story'.

I'm very tempted to just embed this instead.


Tuesday, 26 July 2011

What have we been up to?

Unfortunately, you may have noticed, we've been a little absent from the blog recently. We're not being intentionally neglectful, we've just fallen into the busy summer months!

This means we're after more freelance creatives to get us through to the new year. If you are one or know of one, drop us an email. We want some very clever and very confident designers to get up and running immediately. And we're always on the lookout for experienced charity copywriters! More about working at Open, here.

Meanwhile, here's a little update of what we've been up to though...

- A very exciting re-brand and identity project for the British Heart Foundation, working with the wonderful illustrator Laura Barrett.

- New supporter magazines for Action for Children and the British Heart Foundation. You is glue.

- Hiring account managers to replace the recently departed Rebecca and Caty.

- Lots of work with existing clients on our Connected mobile regular-giving product, as well as lots of selling to some exciting new clients (more on that to come, I'm sure...)

- Preparing for a mammoth amount of Christmas appeals and associated work.

We're also very close to having to a new website, but more on that soon...


Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Charity Peter

What the chuff is Vic doing with our Charity Peter?


Friday, 15 July 2011

God Love the Irish

One week. One letter. One million Euros and counting...

Concern worldwide is way ahead of target and we couldn't be happier. The economy may be failing, but the generosity of the Irish people seems to be alive and well.


Thursday, 7 July 2011

Sack Your Creative Agency

The secret is out. We generate all our ideas on Wheel of Concept and then just stick them into PowerPoint.

Really, anyone can do this stuff. In fact, if you also bookmark this site you could sell a load of modish social media snake-oil too!

See you at the dole office.


Wednesday, 6 July 2011

It must be fun working for Greenpeace...

Barbie, you're dumped. What a fun headline to write.

And it must be great not to worry about sticking to the rules. In fact, I imagine you'd be encouraged to break them. We could never run a campaign with Ken as the poster boy without all sorts of permissions. Oh, to be reckless!

It'd be interesting to know if this stuff works though. No (real) people with eye-contact (or animals). No body copy. No call to action. The campaign certainly has stand-out. My friends certainly talked about it. We certainly found out what it was all about. We liked it. I'm just not sure anyone actually did anything though.

Although I hope they did. It'd be depressing if no-one ever got to be reckless or silly or controversial again! (Although no call to action for a campaigning organisation is surely an arrestable offence?!)


Tuesday, 5 July 2011

If the world were a village of 100 people

I probably missed these the first time round, but here's some very cute and interesting infographics/posters from Toby NG. They'd look nice in the studio (although I'm not convinced they're all technically correct!).


Thursday, 30 June 2011

Are you local? (Part 1)

Finally, after nearly three months, I’ve heard back from all the charities I chose to benefit from Open’s Grand Giveaway in April. But why has it taken them so long to say thank you?

Well, they’re all small, local charities, you see, requiring real people (not an agency) to send me written appreciations of my gifts.

So here’s what my lovely neighbours sent me to say thank you…

The Simon Community

I know what you’re thinking. But this isn’t an online appreciation society for Simon Cowell. Neither is it a charity that supports those unfortunate enough to be addicted to electronic games of memory skill.

In fact, The Simon Community is a small charity that works with homeless people in my community. Their soup run stops at the end of my road, and every Saturday I skulk past on the way to spending three figures on Terramazon Cacao Nibs, flax oil and spelt burgers in the Camden Fresh and Wild (their organic shea butter seems to be the only thing capable of salving my weekend Pashley rash.)

Anyway, The Simon Community sent me a nice thank you letter, top-and-tailed by their Chief Exec, telling me a little bit more about what they do. Underwhelmed? Moi?

Not a bit. It was a lovely letter. And they are to me like honey to the bee.

Next time, Camden Young Carers…


Friday, 24 June 2011

Time for...

Last week saw the first inaugural Show & Tell sesh here at Open – a chance for us creatives to get together, drink coffee and chat about the good, bad or ugly work we've come across outside of these four walls.

And my favourite exhibit this week? This heart-wrenching cinema ad from Médecins Sans Frontières – which proves you don't always need cute kids and eye contact to really pack a punch.


One Amazing Person Down, Just A Few More Amazing People to Go...

It's a bit of a business-manual truism that you should hire people who are better than you. But it's not always easy. First of all it's a bit scary. And secondly, these people are hard to find.

I realise that this sounds conceited. But what I actually mean is that really good people tend to have really good jobs already – or indeed work for themselves.

Anyway, you're doubtless thinking that this is all leading up to a big 'we've appointed' announcement. And you'd be right.

We've been lucky enough to persuade Paul de Gregorio come and head up all our Mobile stuff. He'll be working with charities (CRUK being the first) to deliver amazing stuff to people's pockets and get even more money back from them in return.

Paul was formerly Client Services Director at Pell & Bales so knows a thing or two about fundraising and telephones. He also tweets like it's going out of fashion and writes a blog that i) gets far more readers than this one and ii) includes lots of gems like the image above – which gives you a good idea of just what a top man he is to work with.

Sadly, Paul's appointment is not the end of our recruitment drive. We're still very much in the market for an Account Director and Account Managers who want to work with us. So if you're brilliant at fundraising and have some experience either charity or agency side then do email us at


Remember your inner child?

My inner child and I love BBDO's print campaign for the Museum of Childhood:

You know you've done a good job when the readers of Creative Review are all asking where they can buy your ads.


Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Water Water Everywhere

Everyone loves freebies. No-one likes to pay for water. And water bottles are BAD for the environment. Here's just three reasons why you should download the Water, Water, Everywhere app today. It's also free and will show you all of the places you can get free water! Fountains, cafes, KFC Eastbourne.

So stay hydrated without damaging the environment. Do it now.


Thursday, 9 June 2011

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Tell me why I like mondays...

No, I'll tell you.

After months of searching for the perfect addition to Team Copy here at Open, we have finally found 'the one'.

She's called Lara and she starts on monday. Which is why, for one week only, I like mondays.

Lara's previous work as a scrivener includes Macmillan's little green book of fundraising ideas – which is the envy of a few of our clients, I can tell you.

Welcome to Boomtown, Lara.


Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Imogen gave £1,000 to...

On a freezing night in February I came across a boy of 19 in Angel, sitting on the pavement crying with an empty cap in front of him. He had only a thin coat on. In an effort to help, I gave him food, a hot drink and then called a homeless street team who were dispatched to find him and give him a bed for the night. It had taken two months for a stranger like me to notice him. This struck a chord with me – especially when he said how lonely and scared he was. He was ignored and did not know how he would manage to eat or find shelter.

The charity Thames Reach is a London based charity that helps homeless and vulnerable people off London’s streets. They not only have street teams providing help, but also aid rehabilitation, through teaching and re-housing schemes. Since 2008, they have brought 2,000 rough sleeper off the streets and have helped 20,725 vulnerable people. My money will only go so far, but I hope it helps towards their vision of ending street homelessness.

This charity was set up in memory of a colleague of mine, Stephen Johns, who died of bowel cancer when he was just 26 years old. This was obviously a huge shock to family and friends as he was such a vibrant, active, happy and lovely man.

The Mr Brightside project aims to increase awareness of bowel cancer in those under the age of 50, encourage cancer research and provide support facilities to sufferers and families through difficult times. Stephen is very much missed, but not forgotten. His family continue to strive to make the charity’s goals a success.

As you can see, I have receive a personal note from Stephen’s family, which has made the gift even more special to me. I plan to partake in their sponsored events in the future and will continue my support.

Following a similar theme, I felt I needed to help overseas. I am sure many of you will have seen the documentaries about street children and orphaned children affected by AIDS, displacement and so on. SOS children’s villages help these children by taking them in – giving small groups of children the chance of companionship and a foster mother, who stays with them. They are given shelter, education and a good foundation for adult life.

I now sponsor a little girl in Malawi, Africa. Her name is Lucy Chimwenwe and I am told both her parents died in October 2010. She is only two years old and has survived this, and malnutrition. I am happy to say that now she is being cared for and has developed a healthy appetite for peanut butter. I am planning to write to her and send her some stickers to play with. I look forward to learning about her progress as she grows up and gains confidence.

Friday, 20 May 2011

The Crack Dealer Model of Fundraising

When you're a kid, people tell you that drug dealers hang around playgrounds giving out free samples on the basis that their product is so good that you'll be hooked for life.

Now, child sponsorship is about as good as charity products get. So...

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Hannah gave £1,000 to…

Along with Richard, I gave a big chunk of my money to the Ministry of Stories – an amazing, inspiring place that makes me wish I was six years old again.

But since I’m only getting older and uglier, I also gave £260 to Dementia UK, who do a sterling job of caring for those with 'the cruellest diseases 0f all'. I’d hate to watch someone I love struggle with dementia and slowly lose their grip on reality. But it might just happen – and I hope there's plenty of advice and support available if so.

The rest of my money I gave to The Red Cross, who seemed to respond swiftly and effectively to the recent earthquake in Japan. Thankfully, I don't have friends or family affected, but these shocking photos blew my mind – and ultimately decided my charity choice...

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

I didn't do this but I wish I had

Hats off to whoever did this at RAPP. Making things look simple isn't easy. So when people look at stuff like this and say 'I could do that' then the only sensible response is 'maybe, but you didn't'.

I wish I'd been the planner too – so that I could tell people what their text would achieve aside from venting their anger.


Friday, 6 May 2011

Louise gave £1,000 to...

Great Ormond Street Hospital

GOSH is an amazing place. In the little time I spent in the hospital a couple of years ago the staff were fantastic and the care was spot on. This I wasn't surprised by, but I didn't expect it to find it such an emotional place. You pass children in the corridors and you know that they are very sick. And it breaks your heart.

I wanted to give my full amount to help them get the best care available.


Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Nicki gave £1,000 to...

I’m very new to the whole business of asking people for money. (In fact I don’t, I just sit near people who do.) But I’m a seasoned professional when it comes to being asked, and for me the things that work always involve some beautifully written copy and lots of tears.

Last summer I got an email from my friend Brigid, whose husband comes from very rural Punjab, Pakistan. His family is still living there, and two of his brothers run a school – the Daaman school for girls – funded entirely on charity donations, which I’ve supported. Anyway, the email explained simply that the village and most of the surrounding farmland had been devastated by the floods.

It was an extraordinary email, frank, direct and personal. It was letting me know, as a friend, that if I wanted to help it would be gratefully received.

But then, a few months after I’d handed over my small donation, I received an even more extraordinary email. Brigid wrote to tell me how my donation, and mine alone, had literally changed the lives of two whole families – renting one of them a room in a new house, and buying the other enough materials to set up a small scrap metal recycling business.

So, when I was given the chance to donate in the great Open Giveaway, I sent it to Brigid. The school, homes and lives are slowly being rebuilt. And I really look forward to hearing again how I’ve played a small but intimate part in that.

Thank you letters. What a great idea.


To support the Daaman School or Taunsa Area Relief Fund email

Mark gave his £1,000 to...

Year 2 of the big Open money giveaway. I thought I'd be really clever this year and write to a selection of charities, ask what they would do with £1,000 and give the money to the charity that gave the best answer (yes I know... a smart arse approach).

However, a couple of things happened which suddenly made my charitable decisions feel so much more important.

First I learned that someone very close to me was going have still born twins at 28 weeks. Barnaby and Ellis were born on my birthday and we attended their funeral last week. One of the saddest moments of my life.

Then I was told about a group of girls and boys who were waiting for therapy from Action for Children specialists after being raped or molested by members of their own family. The centre that wanted to help them had put a request on My Action for Children.

I finally thought about my son's childminder. She has a son who has Crohn's disease. He's only twelve and I know he's having a rubbish time because of it.

So, my donations went to the following lovely organisations:

Sands (Stillbirth & neonatal death charity)

My Action for Children

Crohn's and Colitis UK


Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Richard gave his other £780 to...

As well as giving £220 to Ministry of Stories, along with Hannah, I also gave...

£280 to Magic Breakfast
Magic Breakfast provides breakfasts (no surprises there), to children at school, who otherwise haven't been fed/have been fed something not very conducive to a long hard day of learning. They work in 15 Hackney schools (as well as 'round the country), so it's nice to keep my giving local. Why £280? Well, 28p buys one kid breakfast, so here's 1,000 breakfasts. The card in the picture was my thank you. Cute.

My final £500 went to the Albert Kennedy Trust
Set up in 1989, they work with young lesbian, gay, bi and trans people who have become homeless or are living in hostile environments. With offices in London and Manchester, and a bed for the night costing just £20, hopefully this money will go to good use.


Emma gave her £1,000 to...

My mum runs this amazing centre in Felixstowe, Suffolk. It provides transport, activities and on-site catering for elderly individuals in the local community who otherwise would have little or no outside contact.

These are people with active social needs but their activity is limited by reduced mobility or fear of our fast-changing environment and whose life-long friends or relationships have passed on and they feel alone, forgotten and frightened. The centre is run entirely by volunteers with wonderful compassion, sensitivity and patience.

I reckon that we all need a bit of human warmth and companionship sometimes. I hope that an organisation like this is around when my legs give out but I still need to hold someone’s hand and chat about my day.

As it turns out their fridge-freezer blew a gasket at the weekend and the cheque arrived just as they were pondering how to fund a replacement….weirdly prescient giving.


Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Rebecca gave £1,000 to...

Dorothy House Hospice, Frome

My lovely friend Alastair Banks was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease in July last year. At 39 years old it was a tremendous blow to him, his wife and their two young children. Already Dorothy House has given much needed advice, support, counselling and equipment. Their help will be vital in the years ahead.

And, as a side note, Al – who’s not one to sit and feel sorry for himself – is raising funds for the Motor Neurone Disease Association by driving a milk float from him home near Bath to the south coast. Follow his Float to the Coast tour and donate to his £20k target if you’re able:


Last year I supported a six-year-old girl called Emma through KIN’s guardianship programme. KIN works in Kibera, Africa’s largest slum, which is home to 60% of Nairobi’s population on just 6% of its land. I’ve been really impressed by the feedback and communication I’ve received – including a hand-drawn picture from Emma – so I wanted to continue my support.

My Action for Children, New Beginnings Project

Nicki and Mark (Open folk) brought my attention to this project. It offers therapy and support to children who have suffered sexual abuse – often at the hands of people within their family. The project is from Action for Children’s new website that we created, And, by collaborating together, we’re doing exactly what the site sets out to do: linking people together through shared values and available funds!

Friday, 15 April 2011

James Gave £1,000 to Sightsavers

About this time last year I had laser surgery to fix my short-sightedness. A week later, I couldn’t see out of my right eye.

I then had some rather unpleasant emergency surgery at Moorfields to remove the infection that Vision Express had helpfully left behind my cornea – operated on by the reassuringly calm Mr Julian Stevens.

Today, thankfully, I still have two fully functioning eyes.

They say there are no atheists in a foxhole and I think the same goes for waiting rooms in eye hospitals. My £1,000 gift to Sightsavers was the long overdue settlement of a deal I made with God.


Thursday, 14 April 2011

Tom gave his £1,000 to...

I decided to give to a charity close to my family's heart, and one that I have been campaigning for since an unfortunate accident.

A few years ago someone close to me was seriously injured in a car accident and needed to be rushed to a specialist hospital in London. The location of the accident and icy conditions of the roads meant that he would have died long before a conventional road ambulance could reach him. The Air Ambulance almost certainly saved his life.

Accidents can, and do happen anywhere and can often occur in hard-to-reach places, where Paramedics can't arrive on the scene speedily enough.

The ability of the Air Ambulance to travel at great speeds and reach difficult places make it an invaluable service – despite the fact that many people aren't even aware of its existence outside the west country and that it receives no government funding.


Sinéad gave £1,000 to…

Sponsor a Child With Plan UK (£180)

Thanks to Tim and James’ generosity, I’ll be road-testing how it feels to sponsor a two-year-old girl in Africa very soon.

We’ve been working with Plan recently to help them recruit new child sponsors through a variety of media. We’ve talked a lot about the benefits and the kind of person who does it. And I found myself feeling increasingly self-conscious, sitting in those meetings. It’s true, I’ve always thought I’d do it one day but just hadn’t got around to it. And yes, it would be quite a nice thing to share with my increasingly chatty and aware 2-year-old daughter, Aoife. Suddenly, as a new parent it feels like the right time. And to think that all these years, I thought I’d become immune to these obvious fundraising buttons. Good to find out I’m still human after all.

C.A.N Northampton £820

This project is a little closer to home and heart. Someone very dear to me has done a remarkable thing recently – they have tackled the gruesome force of addiction head on, and with the support of this project, are 16 months 22 days sober, and counting…

C.A.N help people with drug and alcohol problems and offer a range of services to help people in the local area, when they often have nowhere else to turn. They’re facing cuts thanks to our new government and I have 100% confidence that a) they desperately need this money, b) they’ll spend it wisely and c) it’ll help people just like my friend (and his friends actually). I couldn’t ask for more.


Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Hannah and Richard gave £500 to...

The Ministry of Stories

In the interests of helping out local charities, coupled with a desire to encourage creativity amongst the children of East London, Open's original creative team (not including James) made a joint gift to the amazing Ministry of Stories on Hoxton Street.

I shan't tell you of all the brilliant things the Ministry does (you're more than capable of clicking the link at the top), but needless to say they make a real difference to the lives of young people. Young people who want to create, experiment, inspire and change. An ambition shared by everyone here at Open.

Fast forward to few days later, and we received a very prompt and lovely email from co-director Ben Payne. As well as being very grateful, and inviting us down for a look around (an offer we must take up very soon!), we were also offered Ministerial Appointments to the Stationery Department. Of course we were – it's the Ministry of Stories!

They already have a Master of the Monsters' Staples, a Minister for Pink Post-it Notes and a Nibmaster General, so we need to invent a joint-title for ourselves. Perhaps Lord and Lady Layout Pad, or King and Queen of the Cupboard (you can tell I'm not the writer...).

Anyway, if anyone is reading, leave some suggestions for titles in the comments. That sounds like a fun thing to do, doesn't it?! And be sure to check out the Ministry of Stories website!

(The picture at the top is stolen from We Made This, who designed the Ministries very first anthology.)


Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Paul Gave £1,000 to...

Mama FM £500

Having worked in development, I understand the importance of building sustainable projects and of women in communities. This Ugandan project mobilises and informs women in rural communities – helping to make a real difference to families and the wider community with advice on health and education.

Starlight £250

Childhood ought to be about adventure, learning, love and intrigue. For some unfortunate children their life is more about the pain of living with a terminal illness. Offering these children the opportunity to fulfill a dream is very motivating.

Stroke Association £250

My father died as a consequence of having a stroke and then several smaller stokes during a six month period. At the time, I was not aware of the signs that a person suffering from a stroke exhibits. If I had known then what I do now, he would have received treatment sooner.

Early detection may not have saved my Dad, but lives will be saved if there was greater stroke awareness.


Friday, 8 April 2011

Giving it Away

As longtime readers (hello dad) will know, we like to celebrate the end of the financial year by giving away some money.

As per last year, everyone got £1,000 to give to the charity (or charities) of their choice. As per last year (apart from the fact that there are now seventeen of us) we sat down over lunch and presented our decisions. And, as per last year, there were lots of tears.

Headlines this year are:
  • Very few people gave again to the causes they supported last year. Because, on the whole, they'd been a bit lame at saying thanks and feeding back.
  • People generally gave to stuff that had affected them or that is near to them.
  • Four people gave a total of £1,200 to an amazing project for abused kids on – only the second time anyone's given their money to a client and far & away the biggest cheque we wrote.
We'll be posting individually over the coming weeks about our choices.


Wednesday, 30 March 2011

How many directors does it take to move a sofa?


Plus 2 Designers, a Head of Copy, an Account Director and a Data Analyst.

It'll be worth it for our new super meeting room basement though!


Monday, 28 March 2011

Clever banner ads

Having spent a few weeks looking for furniture for our new basement-come-meeting-room, these very clever banner ads have started to appear. Now, I might be reading too much into it, and it could just be a massive coincidence, but these ads for Habitat are showing me the exact things I was looking at on their site. Clever, eh?


Tuesday, 15 March 2011

More surprise and delight

I've just returned to my desk to find this lovely gift from Helena and Janna from Cancer Research UK.

I often find myself talking about the importance of surprising and delighting donors (see here). This is a great reminder of that.

So, Helena and Janna, thank you too, the pleasure was ours!

Monday, 14 March 2011

A nice start to the week

I got to do a nice thing today and it's all thanks to Linda from Action for Children. Linda was the winner of our Christmas Heroes Quiz and she decided to give her £500 prize money to a project on My Action for Children.

Linda wanted to support a place called The Grove in Aylesbury. They need a special removable seat for their minibus. It will enable young disabled people to access clubs, sports activities and other community events. You can read more about it here (and donate as well if you like!)

So, thanks to Linda, I got to go online and make the donation. It felt good. (Oh, and yes, I am aware it wasn't my money and it wasn't my choice but I enjoyed it nevertheless).

Friday, 25 February 2011

Quote Friday: Giants Wanted

Another from David Ogilvy...

"If each of us hires people who are smaller than we are, we shall become a company of dwarfs. But if each of us hires people who are bigger than we are, we shall become a company of giants."

Which is topical, as we are hiring again. Senior account manager and writers/designers wanted.
Apply within.


Thursday, 24 February 2011

And the winner is...

Slightly late, but the results of our
Christmas Heroes quiz have been ratified by an independent adjudicator (not really). The top 5 are as follows:

In fifth place, with a respectable 8 out of 15 is Les from St John Ambulance
In fourth, we have Louise Philips from RNID
Technically joint second, but separated by a tiebreaker are Michael from Unicef (with 12 out of 15) and Nathalie from SOFII (with 12.5)
And our winner with a very impressive 13/15 is...

Action for Children's Linda Snellgrove who will now have £500 to give to the charity of her choice!! Well done Linda.

For anyone wanting the answers to the quiz, here you go:
James's hero is: Miles Davis
Hannah's hero is:
David Attenborough
Richard's hero is:
Harvey Milk
Matt's hero is:
J L Carr
Tom's hero is:
Ayrton Senna
Nicki's hero is:
Donald Woods
Paul's hero is:
Stephen Hawking
Tim's hero is: Dr B R Ambedkar
Mark's hero is:
Ole Kirk Christiansen (the inventor of LEGO)
Rebecca's hero is:
Alfred Wainwright
Sinead's hero is: John Hume
Folake's hero is:
Martin Luther King Jr
Caty's hero is:
Cleopatra (although Elizabeth Taylor was accepted too, and provided the tiebreaker between Michael and Nathalie)
Louise's hero is: Harry Beck
and finally, Emma's hero is:
Judge Judy!

We'll let you know where Linda decides to give her money.


Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Worst banner ad ever?

Now, we're no experts in online advertising, but if your banner ad isn't going to continuously scroll, make sure your final frame is really fucking good.

Meet Birmingham... there's nothing there...


Tuesday, 22 February 2011

This might have been funny...

if the voiceover wasn't so bland.


Monday, 14 February 2011

Frying the Server...

Twitter endorsements really don't get any better than this. 4,000 hits in an hour and the My Action for Children server is presumably smoking like half my agency outside the pub at closing time.

Thank you Stephen.