In purely financial terms, Procter & Gamble's recent support for In Kind Direct - an annual grant of £25,000 for two years - is not ground-breaking. But the effect on the charity has been palpable.
The funding allowed In Kind Direct, which sells goods such as office supplies and clothing donated by companies to charities at reduced prices, to develop an online catalogue. This, an addition to its long- standing printed version, has made its service far more accessible.
"In the past, when we just had a paper catalogue, it would have to be passed around, or one person would have to do all the work for different parts of the charity," says chief executive Robin Boles. "Now it's there for anyone in the charity to see and each person can have their own account."
Crucially, the move online has also allowed In Kind Direct to drop its registration fee, which had deterred some smaller charities from joining. The result has been a surge in membership. Since the introduction of free registration, traffic to the website has grown by 60 per cent and the number of sign-ups has risen from 1,372 at the end of 2007 to 1,903 at the start of April - an increase of nearly 40 per cent.
But the grant is not the only way in which Procter & Gamble assists In Kind Direct. The company made its first donation of goods to the charity in April 2002 and has since become its largest donor, contributing a range of products, from washing powder to nappies. "They have seen that they can have an impact on communities by donating products," says Boles.
The relationship makes sense for other corporate social responsibility reasons as well. "For us, it's a very green way of donating products that are perfectly sound without landfilling, which is not environmentally friendly and not the route we want to take," says Janette Butler, community matters manager at Procter & Gamble.
A further link between the two organisations comes in the form of Allison Kirkby, former finance director of Procter & Gamble UK and Ireland and now managing director of the Procter & Gamble brand Wella. Kirkby has served as chairman of the charity's finance committee for the past three years. "She is a very strategically minded person, not just a bean counter," says Boles. "She has really helped us to develop strategically."
The second batch of funding from Procter & Gamble will be used to develop In Kind Direct's main website. "At the moment, it's purely an information website, but there is so much more we can do," says Boles.
The partnership is likely to survive beyond the duration of the current grant. "It's an ongoing relationship and, as projects come up, we'll look at them to see if they are right for the company," says Butler.