2013: The Jennifer Trust becomes SMA Support UK

In 2013, the Jennifer Trust was one of many small charities operating in a crowded market and fighting for a limited amount of funds.

Like many other charities, it closely reviewed how to best present itself to those who might need to use its services and to those who might provide support and funding. The main reason to change the name was to give greater prominence to the condition, Spinal Muscular Atrophy. This was felt to be particularly important so that individuals and families faced with a new diagnosis of the condition could more easily find the help they sought. It was also important for the fundraising team, who needed a name which at first glance gave as much information about the charity to potential donors as possible.

Finding a new name

The Trustees and staff members worked for more than a year with two experts in branding and communications who gave their time and effort for free. They looked at a whole range of names to find one which would do three things:

  • display the name of the condition clearly;
  • describe the work done by the Jennifer Trust; and 
  • give a better sense of the warmth and connection currently transmitted in the name 'The Jennifer Trust'.  

Everyone agreed that the primary focus of the work was support; offered to individuals and families, the health and social care communities through information and support services and also to the research community through funding and collaboration. All of this was offered across the whole of the UK.  

When the best two names which fulfilled these goals were agreed, members (people who have signed up as voting members of the organisation) were consulted as well as a cross section of other people. When asked to vote, the overwhelming majority choosing 'Spinal Muscular Atrophy 
Support UK' which was also the preferred choice of the staff and trustees.  

It was agreed that the existing 'Help for Today, Hope for Tomorrow' strap-line should remain as it complemented the name very effectively. 

The new look

Once the name was agreed, the volunteer consultants found designers to come up with a variety of logos to consider. Again, Trustees and staff were consulted and finally agreed on the logo you see here. The curves represented supportive hands or arms - the ‘help for today’; the unfurling frond represented the new work and research - the ‘hope for tomorrow’.

It was felt to be a warm and welcoming image for all those whose lives are affected by SMA, whatever, their specific diagnosis, their age or their connection. But it was also strong and distinctive, and in combination with the new name and the continuation of the previous strapline, it was felt it would ensure the charity would make a visible and lasting impression.


Remembering where we came from

The Trustees and staff were clear throughout the process, and this was reinforced from the feedback provided during the voting process, that despite a change of name they wanted to ensure that they did not forget Jennifer and the commitment of her mother Anita Macaulay who started the Jennifer Trust. Those closest to Anita told the trustees that they were sure she would have supported the change of name. Her son, Stuart, wrote:

"...I came to the conclusion that this was a question of reaching out; that JTSMA could reach more families and obtain more funding under a different name. I remembered how important the charity’s support-role was to my Mum and why she set the charity up: because there was no support group for her to turn to. I thought of the people who might not be reached by the charity under its current name, and how the charity could gain more money to provide more support to those it is already in contact with and increase awareness of the charity... I have no doubt my Mum would have supported the change of name in the charity."

At the time, the Chairman of Trustees, Jonathan Griffith, said:

"The decision to change the name of the Jennifer Trust which is so well respected, and we are all so fond of and familiar with was never going to be easy. Nevertheless, I believe we need to put ourselves in the best position to raise awareness and support those impacted by the Spinal Muscular Atrophy condition. Our new name Spinal Muscular Atrophy Support UK I believe will allow us to do just that, and expand and build on all the excellent and successful work we have achieved over the past 28 years."