One of the bonuses of becoming the Royal Mail's charity of the year is the access it grants to one of the largest workforces in the UK - more than 193,000 people. The publicly owned company did not have a charity of the year before Help the Hospices was taken on in 2005, so the link-up between the two organisations is something of an experiment.
When the partnership began, Help the Hospices had 475 payroll-giving donors at Royal Mail, making it the 14th most popular charity with the company's staff. Now, two years into the three-year relationship, it has 5,780 (an increase of more than 1,100 per cent) and has risen to first place in the league table. Last year, the payroll giving element of the partnership generated £210,000.
According to Maxine Blunden, corporate fundraising manager at the charity, payroll giving has been the most valuable part of the partnership. "It means people stay with you when the partnership has finished," she says.
Help the Hospices was one of 30 charities that applied to become the Royal Mail's first official partner charity. Six well-known charities made it to the final ballot to decide who the partner would be, and Help the Hospices won with more than 50 per cent of the vote. The organisation has the characteristics that many firms look for in a charity partner: a popular cause with national scope that has local reach so staff know where their donations are going.
The relationship was originally meant to last two years. But the mechanics of setting it up proved more onerous than expected, so a one-year extension was agreed to allow the partnership to mature. As well as payroll giving, staff have raised £250,000, triggering a match-funding donation from Royal Mail.