Hourglass: relaunching a charity

The appointment of a new CEO in 2019 put the charity Action on Elder Abuse (AEA) on a new trajectory. AEA wanted to reposition itself from an agitator to a collaborator and sought to become a more evidence-led, sustainable, partnership-focused and public-facing organisation with a presence in all four nations of the UK. Building on nearly thirty years of history and relaunching in March 2020 under the new name of Hourglass, the organisation wanted to become the leading charity in the safer ageing sector – raising the profile of the abuse, harm and exploitation of older people across the four nations of the UK.

The rebrand needed careful positioning with key stakeholders to drive home the value shift messages that the new name stands for.

Our analysis of how best to showcase Hourglass’ new evidence-led, sustainable and public-facing approach led us to identify an evidence gap on attitudes towards the abuse of older people in the UK, as well as its prevalence, which is hampered by poor data collection on age by authorities. Using WHO data and a specialist pollster from the NSPCC, we sought to get an accurate picture of the state of abuse.

To engage senior-level stakeholders who could take our evidence more public-facing, we coordinated a series of events across the UK’s four nations. The events would use headlines generated from the research to highlight the epidemic of abuse facing older people to an audience of politicians, influencers, social care practitioners, media and charity stakeholders.

As the time to relaunch drew closer, however, it became clear that the growing threat of the coronavirus pandemic would necessitate a strategic shift in order to prevent Hourglass’ research becoming lost amongst the news of the UK’s impending lockdown. We reframed the research in light of the breaking news, using the statistics we’d collected around attitudes towards domestic violence and neglect to maximise cut-through.

We quickly pivoted from the physical relaunch events to a social media led relaunch with grass roots-created videos of Hourglass’ core stakeholders saying what the name change meant to them. All of this ensured that Hourglass’ key messaging around the relaunch cut through while keeping the powder dry on the charity’s unique research for future use.

ZPB secured widespread coverage carrying Hourglass’ messaging to over 2 million people as news broke of the lockdown. The focused social media campaign deployed across March and April also proved highly successful, allowing Hourglass to reach nearly 500,000 people over the course of the campaign.

The relaunch also positioned Hourglass in the Daily Express in the ongoing domestic abuse debate during COVID-19, helping the charity secure additional funding to continue its vital work during the pandemic and beyond.

Using this position, we questioned watchdogs’ efficacy in protecting vulnerable older people during the pandemic in The Guardian, which bought Care England and the Good Law Project to our door, with the latter subsequently partnering with Hourglass on a legal challenge to the government to force an inquiry into failings to provide personal protective equipment to health and social care workers during the pandemic.

News of the legal challenge has generated media coverage featuring Hourglass with a reach of over 156 million – drastically raising the charity’s profile.

Despite the pandemic, and thanks to a quick-thinking pivot, ZPB’s work on the Hourglass relaunch campaign has helped the charity achieve its objectives of becoming:

  • More evidence led: we developed a brand-new dataset that the media has advocated
  • Sustainable: the successful relaunch has developed new funding streams
  • A collaborative partner: the campaign saw a collective drive to hold a public inquiry with the Good Law Project
  • Public-facing: campaigning for a public inquiry leading to sustained engagement from the public

ZPB continues to work with Hourglass as a trusted partner, with plans in place to support the charity in future research-led campaigns.

“ZPB’s data-focused expertise and their unique investment in a full-time analyst has meant that they were able to turn this research around quickly and provide compelling evidence in this sector. Their innate understanding of data and how to use it to bring value to their clients is unmatched.

“Additionally, ZPB’s ability to adapt in the face of an unprecedented global crisis has been vital in helping Hourglass to reposition and make an impact in perhaps the most challenging media environment we have ever seen. We found ourselves in the unenviable position of relaunching the charity on the day that news broke of the nationwide lockdown – March 24th, 2020 – something that could not have been foreseen in the preceding months. Being able to pivot and adapt the strategy and manoeuvre in a rapidly changing media environment under extreme time pressure is an invaluable asset in a strategic partner, and despite the upheaval, we’ve felt in safe hands every step of the way.

“We have valued ZPB’s support and guidance throughout the rebranding process and beyond.”

Richard Robinson, CEO, Hourglass

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