Charity at home: good for business?

By Sam Unsworth

The UK is listed as one of the most generous countries in the world, with an incredible £10.3 billion donated to charities in 2018. Despite this, in the last recession an 11 per cent fall in charitable giving was reported, so during these times of economic uncertainty and social instability, and the current industry challenges, I’m led to the question: should charity fundraising be part of a community pharmacy’s plans?

Fundraising has a wonderful history in the UK, with iconic events dominating the workplace calendar year-on-year. Fundraising support shows no signs of slowing down. This year’s London Marathon will break the £1 billion mark since it started, thanks largely to everyday people doing extraordinary things. These kind of people will remain resilient to the changes in society, and continue their personal support for their chosen charities. 

Supporting charity

Community pharmacies can help support charity fundraising with successful campaigns. Take Knights Oakwood Pharmacy’s award-winning ‘Turn it Purple’ campaign in support for Pancreatic Cancer Action (pictured), and the ‘Go Green’ campaign for Pharmacist Support. They demonstrate how a pharmacy team, its customers, and possibly other local business, can come together in a common cause and trigger multiplier effects. This helps build relationships, stimulate conversations and in turn identify business opportunities that aid a sustainable business model.

The benefits build from there, especially when the charitable cause is health-focused. Utilise opportunities to highlight and reinforce healthcare expert status and drive business. Dialogue on fundraising activities brings awareness and the pharmacy team can easily communicate this to customers and signpost the official charity communications. 

Charity fundraising is a chance to inspire and engage your customers. The UK calendar is full of national healthcare events. Identifying several of these is a great way to take an existing theme and hold a charity event in your pharmacy. At Alliance Healthcare our our annual summer effort has evolved into one large event, and in 2018 our football and netball tournament raised over £53,000 for charity, and we’ll be excited to deliver another amazing event for 2019.

Supporting a charity needn’t be a big investment for your business, but the rewards can make it a worthwhile one:

• Internal engagement – your staff will appreciate the extra fun events bring to the workplace, and possibly offer a chance to develop other skills such as communication and event coordination

• Meeting customer demand – your customer satisfaction will rise as they see your pharmacy supporting a good cause, and they will think positively of your team’s efforts

• Improve your brand – your event could generate PR opportunities in store through posters, and online through your website and social media channels. You are helping to build a sustainable community by being a responsible business, so ensure your stakeholders have visibility of your fantastic work.

The current marketplace challenges are very apparent, but it’s essential we all try to remain focused on the reason we are raising funds for charity – whether it is to fight a terrible disease, or support a disadvantaged group in the community.   

And remember that for every cynic, it’s believed that an individual’s charitable donations will go beyond their personal financial situation, so some of your customers and members of your pharmacy team will continue to donate to charity, despite the economic status of the UK. 

I believe the community pharmacy sector will continue to see demand from its stakeholders to support charities and enable fundraising opportunities in its stores, so please let’s continue the amazing work we do.

Sam Unsworth is corporate social responsibility manager, Alliance Healthcare

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