By the time the partnership of the British Red Cross with Land Rover is over, the London 2012 Olympic Games will have finished. Dwarfing most corporate partnerships in its duration, this five-year relationship began in September 2007 and involves fundraising in 18 countries. Although it has nothing to do with the Olympics, it is linked to an event in which a British team competes with rivals from around the world.
The partnership represents the charitable aspect of the Land Rover G4 Challenge. This is an adventure racing competition and combines off-road driving, kayaking, mountain biking, abseiling, climbing and orienteering. The three-week final takes place in Mongolia next year, and before then 18 countries will hold trials to select a two-person team to represent them.
Previous challenges have taken place at a local level, often accompanied by charitable work such as the clearing of unexploded ordnance or painting of schools. But Land Rover wanted to extend the reach of its activity.
"We aim to make this challenge more global and create more benefits than we've managed to do with the local activity," says Ed Tilston, Land Rover G4 Challenge manager. "To do that we needed an organisation with an international structure that would make it the most efficient partnership possible."
That organisation is the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. Eighteen national societies are involved, one in each of the countries that is taking part in the challenge. The British Red Cross is one of those - it also manages the partnership on behalf of the international federation.
Fundraising has already started in the UK. Earlier this year, Land Rover donated 60 vehicles to the British Red Cross as part of the firm's 60th birthday celebrations. Thirty vehicles will be used in the UK to help with local flooding, off-road emergencies and public events, and the other half will be sent overseas. The gift is worth an estimated £1.5m and is the British Red Cross's largest ever in-kind donation. Land Rover dealerships also organised fundraising events during Red Cross Appeal Week in May.
The effort is continuing in all 18 countries that are sending teams to the challenge final. Land Rover is assisting the Chinese Red Cross in its HIV/Aids work and has also lent vehicles to the Red Cross in Spain. A £100,000 donation has also been made to the Mongolian Red Cross to support the charity's social care programme.
There are still four years of fundraising to go in the UK and elsewhere before the partnership comes to an end after the next challenge. "We wish to have a long-lasting and deeper relationship with the Red Cross," says Mark Foster, head of corporate communications at Land Rover. "We are constantly exploring new avenues that we can go down together."