The digital transformation of Teenage Cancer Trust has been driven by the youth and digital literacy of its service users. What lessons can other charities learn from them?
“We won’t stop until we can make sure that young people with cancer are never forgotten, never unheard, never ignored and that they have everything and everyone they need, so that they don’t have to face cancer alone,” writes Kate Collins, charity digital leader and CEO of Teenage Cancer Trust.
That mandate has seen the Teenage Cancer Trust transform itself into an exemplary force for good using digital technology, communications, and social media. Collaborating with partners from the public sector, music industry, patients, to everyday fundraisers, the charity’s total digital transformation has ensured that its voice can be heard across the country.
Leaping into the limelight with Stephen Sutton
Diagnosed in 2010 with terminal cancer, teenager Stephen Sutton from Burntwood Staffordshire helped transform the Teenage Cancer Trust with his social media fundraising campaign. Battling colorectal cancer since his diagnosis, 2012 was the turning point – bad news – doctors had done all they could. Posting publicly on Facebook, his bucket list went viral. Stephen had already participated in the charity’s fundraiser and events, and his list included raising £10,000 for the charity.
He thrust himself into the limelight on behalf of the charity. He started a blog, called Stephen’s Story, charting his life and sharing his adventures in fundraising. He quickly made friends with comedian Jason Manford. Together they spread the hashtag #ThumbsUpForStephen across Twitter, Instagram and Facebook – it’s lived after Stephen’s death.
His digital fundraising efforts have helped transform Teenage Cancer Trust – the charity has never received a donation more significant than Stephen’s. From beyond the grave, his legacy has raised over £4.5 million for the charity’s programmes.
How did he do it? Social media, social media, and finally, social media
Stephen’s leadership and skills in charity digital fundraising were a huge success, and charities large and small should take note. Looking at Stephen’s success story, charity media and marketing communications teams can learn from how he’s done it:
Teenage Cancer Trust’s digital transformation approach
Lessons from Stephen’s remarkable journey have been integrated at the heart of Teenage Cancer Trust’s digital transformation and culture. The charity’s digital strategy is holistic and powerful, making the best use of public and private partnerships, user stories, and regular, relevant content. Showcasing its unique approach, we’ve pulled out some of the best examples of the charity’s digital marketing, communication and transformation strategies.