As a long-term supporter of DEBRA and knowing how tight resources are at its head office, I decided to spend a day with them for my Jellybean 12 Days of Giving charity contribution. I was happy to stuff envelopes, cart boxes, make the tea or clean the toilets, but they decided to take advantage of my marketing expertise and set up a series of meetings covering a comprehensive range of topics. (Maybe they have tried my tea in the past!). The small and very stretched team are dedicated to the cause and a true inspiration, they made me feel so welcome and had put together a full-on day which proved to be one of the most rewarding and stimulating I have ever experienced.

DEBRA is the national charity supporting those directly affected by and working with EB. Epidermolysis Bullosa is a potentially fatal skin condition that causes constant pain due to unstoppable internal and external blistering. Excessive blistering creates scar tissue that can cause fingers and toes to fuse together and can lead to an aggressive form of skin cancer. DEBRA funds pioneering research for symptom alleviation and ultimately a cure (we pray) and provides care and support to the extensive EB community. Imagine spending every day of your life in constant pain, imagine not being able to hug your child in case you tear their skin, imagine your child not being able to do simple things like kick a football or climb a tree. For more information visit and I am sure it will tear at your heart strings too.

It is DEBRA’s 40th anniversary and I was delighted to be able to attend a series of meetings and provide some strategic guidance and fresh ideas to help them maximise their fundraising activity in 2019. We covered a wide range of topics ranging from new ways of engaging corporate supporters, commercialising retail activities and creating a business network to improving user experience for families using the specially adapted holiday homes. We talked about improving their use of social media and their website and the potential of setting up an online EB community with live webinars, advice and research updates as well as a media ambassador scheme. It is estimated that there are 5,000 people suffering from EB in the UK and only about 2,000 of those are aware of and interact with DEBRA. We need to reach out more to this potential community and to educate, schools, healthcare professionals and the public.

We discussed branding, messaging and broader marketing activity and we brainstormed how to make new and existing events more successful including a landmark celebrity chefs ball next year. We talked about how to improve media contacts and press relations and have a plan for that too. I’m not giving any of our ideas away here though, suffice it to say that the amazing team at DEBRA will pull out all the stops to make next year the best yet.

I was delighted the following morning to receive this message from
Lucie Robson “The 12 Days of Giving initiative by Jellybean is an inspired idea. Fiona thank you very much indeed on behalf of the whole team at DEBRA for donating a day of your time, expertise and advice from both a corporate and a personal perspective as a long-term supporter of DEBRA. We all came away from our various conversations with fresh ideas on a number of key areas.”

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