Help the Hospice; A Huge success

On Thursday 22nd February 2018, businesses from across the North East gathered together and collectively donated more than £12,000 worth of free consultation to support a very worthy cause, Willow Burn Hospice.

This fantastic event was generously organised by Kate Vogelsang, Founder and Managing Director of Birdsong Consultancy, a Communications, Digital and Marketing Agency based within the Durham area. It was also kindly sponsored by Groundswell Innovation, an Innovation Agency from Lancaster.

The sole purpose of the event was to HACK away at a problem and help develop plans/solutions to aid Willow Burn in its marketing ventures. 24 attendees were challenged to spend just one day creating and developing innovative ideas and campaigns to help raise the profile of the Hospice across County Durham and the North East.

Over 30 incredible concepts were presented within our snowballing phase and out of which, we were able to consolidate 5 individual projects. Each project was taken up by groups of 3-7. These groups consisted of: Web Developers, Social Media Experts, Photographers, Filmmakers, Communications and Marketing Professionals, Students and finally Brand Innovation experts; all of whom brought a wide range of skills and experience to the challenge of the day.

The 5 projects were all tailored to different aspects of Willow Burn’s marketing outlook; focusing on the promotional difficulties experienced within a hospice environment. Each provided vastly different solutions to help enhance the marketing strategy of the organisation:

  • A toolkit of marketing materials, created to support community roadshows run by Willow Burn Hospice to try and recruit more volunteers and fundraisers as well as raising awareness of Hospice activities and services.
  • A Facebook Messenger chat bot was developed, using technologies which would actively engage with Willow Burn’s target audience and supporters through their Facebook page. The bot can answer frequently asked questions, such as ‘How can I donate?’ aiming to save staff time and resources throughout the year.
  • A scheme called Willow Bank was set up, which aims to persuade professionals to donate time, products or both to the Hospice to be used throughout 2018 – During the day more than 35 days of support were pledged and we are expecting a lot more in the near future.
  • A student society at Northumbria University was established, called The Willow Burn Initiative. This alliance with the Hospice aims to support student caregivers and provide an opportunity for members to volunteer at the Hospice and gain essential skills and experience that will be of great benefit to them in the future.
  • A campaign named, ‘One for me, one for you’ was developed, marketing materials, plans and presentations were created too. The aim is to enlist local businesses to advertise Willow Burn services in order to allow customers to choose whether or not they wish to donate the cost of their Manicure, Exercise Class, Massage, etc.; essentially gifting that service to a patient at Willow Burn.

Kate, from Birdsong Consultancy said, “I love hack events, they show just how much people can achieve in a short space of time, and how creative and innovative they can be given the opportunity and the right environment. Willow Burn is a great cause and a wonderful place, but I knew they could do with some help marketing the work they do. The hack really couldn’t have gone any better, and I’m really impressed with what everyone has managed to do in just one day.”

Laura Jane Forbes, Senior Fundraiser at Willow Burn Hospice said, “I have never experienced such creativity come from one room before! It was truly an amazing day and all of the attendees have unbelievable talent and personality, they should be proud of the work they do and all that they have given to the Hospice. Jake and I were inspired by all of the fantastic ideas presented during the hack; we honestly couldn’t be more thankful for all of your support.”


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