As part of my Social Media MA I am undertaking a community project working with the St Ann’s Hospice – looking at their social media activities and delivery.

For those unfamiliar with their work St Ann’s are the largest hospice in Greater Manchester – helping those with progressive and life-threatening diseases as well as supporting their families and carers.

The most startling aspect of St Ann’s Hospice is how they are funded. Although the NHS contributes in the region of 35% towards annual running costs this still leaves £6 million (or £16,000 every day) to be found by donations from the generous general public. The monies come from a mix of contributions, legacies, the hospice lottery, fundraising and trading activities.

With such high income targets to meet the hospice are continually looking to increase donations. One of the methods that they have recently used to increase engagement involves using social media.

St Ann’s Hospice have already been successful utilising the power of social media and the Manchester digital community as is evident by their success in being the nominated charity for the 2009 Manchester Twestival. The event raised over £1,000 for this more than worthy cause.

Here is an short overview of the social media activities of St Ann’s Hospice;

Twitter – The hospice tweet via two accounts @stannshospice AKA Catherine Williams the organisation’s Director of Fundraising and Communications. Whilst @midnightwalk is a event specific Twitter feed for the Manchester Midnight Walk.

Facebook – There are also fan pages for the Manchester Midnight Walk and St Ann’s Hospice. It was interesting to see on the St Ann’s Hospice page messages from family members of patients praising the work of the hospice, describing their own personal experiences and how they have been touched by St Ann’s.

PicasaSt Ann’s Hospice public gallery, a visual archive of many of St Ann’s Hospice events.

YouTube – The hospice’s channel features a mixture of live event footage as well as patient stories.

I am excited to get started on this project and over the coming months I hope to blog about my work and progress at St Ann’s – detailing some of the achievements and challenges that are faced in using social media for charitable causes.

Image c/o principia aesthetica licensed under Creative Commons.