The business benefits of charity fundraising

Fundraising for local and national charities and organisations doesn’t just benefit them – it can also have a positive impact on the service you offer your customers

Promoting the work of local and national charities is a great way for pharmacies to involve their communities and raise much-needed funds for good causes. But more than that, it can enable your business to forge relationships with organisations that increase awareness of a variety of health and medical conditions that might affect your customers, which helps add to the service you offer.

Charity support has been common practice for the large multiples for many years now, Boots being a notable example.

Boots currently supports two core charities – Macmillan Cancer Support and BBC Children in Need – and has raised almost £12 million for them so far. “A few years ago, our customers and colleagues voted for Macmillan to be our national charity partner because so many people have been touched by cancer or have had their lives improved through the support of Macmillan,” says a Boots spokesperson.

This partnership has also benefited customers by giving them access to cancer information and support in store, in the community and online. Since September 2012 Boots has trained more than 1,850 of its pharmacists to become Boots Macmillan information pharmacists to support people affected by cancer, as well as their families and carers.

The company also supports its employees in their own personal fundraising achievements by matching their funding up to £500 via its ‘Make the Difference Fund’, typically granting about 500 awards each year. It also enables its staff to donate directly to charity from their salaries via a workplace giving scheme, which now has more than 3,000 employees donating part of their salary in this way.

Fundraising goals

Staff and customers at Superdrug can also pat themselves on the back after raising more than £2 million for Marie Curie since the multiple named the charity as its fundraising partner in 2013. Over the past three years Superdrug staff have undertaken a range of fundraising events such as Marie Curie’s Great Daffodil Appeal, which involved in-store and head office teams having fun dress-up days, holding bake sales and raffles. Customers have also been able to support the charity through buying certain products, such as cleansing wipes and shower gels, sales of which raised extra money for the charity.

According to Meredith Niles, fundraising director at Marie Curie, the £2 million raised is “the equivalent of 100,000 hours of Marie Curie nursing care, helping us ensure people living with a terminal illness and their families make the most of the time they have together”.

The multiple is holding a further drive this summer by encouraging customers to buy three bestselling bronzing products from Bondi Sands, St Tropez and Skinny Tan displaying the Marie Curie daffodil symbol, which Superdrug property director, Nigel Duxbury, hopes will raise another £50,000 for the charity.

These nationwide, high-target campaigns are undoubtedly impressive, but smaller chains and independent pharmacies are also doing great things for local charities and causes close to their heart and relevant to their own customers.

Numark encourages its members to support local charities of their choice. “Recent campaigns have been linked to conditions, with pharmacy owners working with dementia and Alzheimer’s charities as these are such big issues in the UK,” says Mandeep Mudhar, Numark’s director of marketing. “Members drive their own campaigns, but Numark head office is happy to give them marketing support.”

Day Lewis takes a similar approach, and in 2013 established its annual charity fun day in which all its pharmacy, support office and warehouse teams are invited to participate. Teams raise money for a local charity of their choice through fundraising activities, such as cake sales and raffles, and Day Lewis has matched the amount raised. The company has also launched a payroll giving scheme this year for pharmacist charity Pharmacist Support.

Staff at Kamsons Pharmacy in Sussex have also been getting stuck in, with 11 employees taking part in a recent Pretty Muddy 5k Race for Life in Brighton in aid of Cancer Research.

“I wanted to bring staff from different branches together to raise money for charity,” says Emma Beadle, Kamsons’ social media manager, “and Cancer Research is a charity that is close to most people’s hearts. The Mud Run seemed like a fun event to participate in and anybody could get involved, no matter what their fitness level.

“Overall, we raised more than £1,700 for Cancer Research and received a lot of sponsorship from customers, and this has definitely improved the relationship between patients and staff.”

Local charities mean a lot

Naz Meghji, Avicenna’s head of retail, agrees that choosing a charity that means something to both staff and customers is key when it comes to successful fundraising.

“Our pharmacies hold a fundraising day in mid-March each year and tend to choose a local charity in their community,” she says, “which is great, because for me the national charities are usually well supported and it’s the local ones that often struggle to raise the funds they need.”

There are other examples from the organisation. “A great example is one of our pharmacies in Luton where the team chose to raise money for Keech Hospice in 2015. This charity means a lot to them because they have had patients and relatives looked after by them. They raised £600 through a bake sale and other activities, which Avicenna matched.”

In fact, the event went so well that in March this year they decided to have another fundraising day, this time for their local community centre in The Green, Luton. The centre is in a deprived area and focuses on young people and the elderly, providing – among other things – one hot meal a day to local pensioners, and hosting a youth club once a week.

Avicenna head office printed banners for the pharmacy to help promote the event, and staff put up balloons, baked cakes, served Indian food and got all the local traders in their parade of shops to join in and contribute prizes for a draw, with the winner drawn by a representative who attended from the charity.

The event was well attended and on the day the pharmacy team increased the number of services they carried out for patients, such as MURs and health checks, and even identified some potential diabetes or cholesterol patients.

Ms Meghji credits much of the success to pharmacy team member Barbara, who regularly delivers prescriptions to customers in the community centre. “She really rallied the local businesses to stir up interest ahead of the event, which ended up raising more than £500, which Avicenna matched,” she says.

The bigger picture

Avicenna also contributes to good causes on a wider scale, as evidenced at from this year’s conference in Mauritius. A raffle held at the gala dinner – with prizes donated by sponsors – raised £15,000 for the Caritas Mauritius learning centre that helps deprived children and educates mothers on how best to look after their children.

“Salim [Jetha, Avicenna chief executive] visited the project while he was there, and we invited one of the children to sing at the gala dinner, which really inspired people to donate,” says Ms Meghji. “Now we have a long-term relationship with that project and we get reports on how the money is being used, which gives us a real link to the place. In fact, on the back of that, one of our suppliers heard that the centre had a lack of IT provision and has arranged to donate the technology they need. It’s all a springboard for giving, and reminds our members how fortunate we are in the UK.”

Do it together

Ms Meghji says all of Avicenna’s pharmacies are already getting excited about who is going to raise the most money next year, and they enjoy this healthy element of competition because ultimately everyone wins.

“I’m a believer that you only get what you give,” she says. “Successful community pharmacies treat their patients as if they are part of the family. Patients love it, and we are all coming together to give back to the community.”

For anyone thinking of running their own fundraising event, Ms Meghji says, “I’d advise them to pick a local charity that is close to their team’s heart, particularly in the first year, so it has meaning and a personal connection. Raising money doesn’t have to be about shaking a tin and trying get more cash out of your customers.

“You can make cakes or give customers tea and biscuits. Little things make a huge difference and don’t need much effort, and if you get your local shops involved as well, you all benefit from increased footfall.

The key for pulling everyone in is not to do it in isolation. Getting fellow businesses involved gets the whole community together and will give you all a better result.”

Four ways to promote your charity event in the local community

1. Plan well in advance. Allow enough time to create a buzz and give people some notice so they can plan to attend your event
2. Find a sponsor. If appropriate, a sponsor can be a powerful force in helping to promote your event
3. Publicise your event. Posters, fliers and letters should be clear and informative. They shold say what the event is, what it is in aid of and who is running it
4. Keep people updated. Make sure your website and social media accounts are updated regularly, but don’t overlook traditional media. For example, can you encourage press and photographers to attend?

For more advice, visit knowhownonprofit.org

Pick a local charity that is close to the team’s heart, so it has meaning and a personal connection

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