Voluntary Sector: Stroke Association's month to remember

Healthcare charity The Stroke Association held Action on Stroke Month, the UK's first stroke awareness month, during May 2012. The charity launched its Life After Stroke campaign to provide a focus and theme for the month.

The Stroke Association: Launching the UK's first stroke awareness month
The Stroke Association: Launching the UK's first stroke awareness month

Campaign: Action on Stroke Month
Client: The Stroke Association
PR team: In-house
Timescale: February-May 2012
Budget: £30,000



  •  To raise awareness and understanding of strokes
  •  To highlight the needs of stroke survivors and the challenges they face
  •  To recruit campaigners and supporters for the charity.

Strategy and Plan

The month of May was chosen because it had fewer competing messages and because it included European Stroke Awareness Day.

The Stroke Association launched its campaign with a report, Struggling to Recover, on 1 May, which highlighted the experiences of more than 2,200 people living after a stroke. Ahead of the report, advance planning notices were sent out to the press, with national and trade publications targeted, while on the day a press release announced the report's findings.

At the same time, the charity launched its rebranding and revamped website. Specifics of the site and rebrand were sold into specialist titles such as PRWeek sister magazine Third Sector.

Ahead of the month, an action pack was sent out to stakeholders containing stroke information and tips on how to raise funds and campaign to support the charity.

Staff and volunteers held more than 100 local awareness and fundraising events during the month, generating widespread regional coverage. Local MPs and mayors visited stroke groups, with the then disability minister Maria Miller agreeing to visit a local service.

As well as Miller, the charity approached a number of high profile figures to back the work. These included DJ Greg James, who ran the London Marathon on behalf of the charity and gave quotes for inclusion in press releases, as well as tweets of support. Partnerships were created with organisations including Groupon, which featured it as 'charity of the day' and donated money from customer purchases, and regional media such as the Hartlepool Mail. The team also secured £20,000 in sponsorship for the campaign from pharma firm Ipsen.

Measurement and evaluation

More than 1,700 pieces of coverage were achieved, including articles in The Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail, and on BBC Radio 4's Today programme and ITV's Daybreak.

The charity secured more than 700 new Facebook fans and 1,500 Twitter mentions.


Teaming up with Groupon raised almost £5,000, while more than 1,300 new campaigners, including hospitals, MPs, individuals, groups and firms, signed up to support the campaign. The charity's information helpline received more than 2,500 calls, the most taken in one month in its history.

The distribution warehouse sent out almost half-a-million factsheets. According to the Charity Awareness Monitor, public prompted awareness of the charity inc-reased by four per cent, a feat that had not been achieved with any previous campaign.



It's the classic charity dilemma - to have an awareness month/week/day or not to have an awareness month/week/day?

There is no right or wrong answer, but if you decide to have one, then go for it and do it properly, which is exactly what The Stroke Association did.

It is always refreshing to see a campaign that appears genuinely integrated across all the comms channels, one the different teams in an organisation got right behind and used to further corporate objectives as well as their own.

This happens all too rarely in the charity world, yet it is the most effective way of getting maximum bang for your buck.

Of course, it always helps having a cause to which a huge number of people can relate, directly or indirectly. The Stroke Association made the most of this by taking a very pluralist approach, led by the voices of stroke survivors and supporters.

Old school charity campaigns could be guilty of talking at rather than with people, a real no-no in our new reality of social branding. This one is a good job all round.

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