Business partner: Oxfam and PizzaExpress

By Mathew Little, Third Sector, 6 September 2011

Oxfam and PizzaExpress

Oxfam and PizzaExpress

The partnership has been about more than just giving the charity money

Oxfam had great success with last year's campaign with the restaurant chain Pizza Express. The campaign, which aimed to raise money to provide goats for families in developing countries, won awards - including Third Sector's Business Charity Award for cause-related marketing - and raised £285,000, eclipsing its target by £135,000.

But one of the main participants says the success was not down to philanthropy alone.

"Corporate philanthropy is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, but you have to go into any relationship not expecting it," says Chris Ashworth, corporate partnerships manager at Oxfam. Ashworth says businesses are not naturally altruistic, so a commitment to 'reciprocation' and tangible benefits is vital.

"A business exists to make money - to throw cash at a charity makes no sense to its shareholders," he says.

The reciprocation in this campaign came through adding to Pizza Express's and Oxfam's audiences. As a result of the six-week campaign, which included a limited edition goat-themed T-shirt created by the fashion designer Zandra Rhodes, YouTube videos and 9,000 Oxfam wristbands, the restaurant chain's customer database increased by 76,000.

But while reciprocation is the key, says Ashworth, the charity shouldn't be a service provider to the company.

"With many partnerships, there is a tendency for the charity to serve the corporate partner," he says. But in the Pizza Express partnership, a relationship between the two organisations was built first, and then the campaign was conceived. "Both partners were respected as equals," says Ashworth.

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