Open innovation in charities: Insights and guidance

As part of the Innovation in Giving Fund we worked with ten large charities to test out their ideas for new ways of increasing giving of time and money.

The approaches taken were varied, as you can see from the brief descriptions below, and many of them changed course and overcame a wide range of challenges as they tested and refined their ideas.

100% Open mentored the projects and we asked the team to put together their thoughts and advice for other charities based on what they learned through working with the projects first-hand. I’m very pleased to publish this insight today in the form of a series of blog posts for charity leaders who are thinking about how to manage an innovation process within their own organisation.

The articles explore some of the common themes to be aware of and distil some practical tips and insights gained through working with the charities over the past 18 months. We hope that they provide a useful insight into applied innovation in the charity and voluntary sector.

Project profiles

Age UK: Trialling a new system for trading volunteer skills for donations working with the online exchange platform Ecomodo.

Children's Society: Piloting a locally focused ‘pop-up’ experience to engage new givers working with support from The Giving Lab.

Keep Britain Tidy: Creating an online network of supporters and incentivising participation, engaging with a range of eco-friendly commercial ‘rewards partners’.

Foodcycle: Scaling up the organisation by testing ways of replicating community hubs in partnership with local organisations

Marie Curie: Creating an online gaming platform to engage new donors through working with commercial games experts.

Mencap: Testing an approach to online giving in schools working with The Giving Lab.

National Trust: Demonstrating how large corporates can engage employee volunteers as families.

Scope and WWF: Formed a partnership that is studying how to increase a wider culture of giving including a donor ‘swap’.

United Response: Testing an unfamiliar approach to fundraising through locally led events working with a range of online service providers.

The first in the series is from Kim van Niekirk who explores different ways of using market insight when developing an innovation process in the charity sector. Other articles give insights into leading innovation processes,  risk management, using technology appropriately, making the most of your networks, and the knotty issue of failure.

You can download the set of articles here.


Alice Casey

Alice Casey

Alice Casey

Head of New Operating Models

Alice led on a portfolio of work looking at how technology is transforming communities and civic life.

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