Business partner: NSPCC and Spar

The company's convenience stores give the charity contact with a wide public.

In the world of corporate partnerships, familiarity often breeds longevity. Convenience retailer Spar's relationship with the NSPCC began in 2006. It was due to end this April but, after hitting the £1m fundraising milestone, has been extended for another year. In financial terms, it is Spar's most successful charity partnership to date, superseding previous link-ups with the British Heart Foundation and Macmillan Cancer Support.

Spar might not be the obvious candidate for most desirable corporate partner, but its ubiquitous presence - the UK has more than 2,600 Spar stores - means it possesses an enviable capacity to reach potential donors.

This has not been lost on the NSPCC and its Scottish sister charity, Children First, which has received 15 per cent of the proceeds from this fundraising relationship.

Colin Mackenzie, account manager for the partnership at the NSPCC, says: "Seventy-four per cent of people live within three-quarters of a mile of a Spar, which from our point of view gives us an amazing platform to engage with customers and staff alike and spread our message."

The charity sees the partnership as facilitating contact with a broad range of the public, rather than a particular demographic. "Who doesn't shop in a Spar?" says Mackenzie. "It's a convenience store and, as such, attracts people from all walks of society. We are interested in everybody in terms of engaging them with our cause."

Spreading its message that stopping cruelty to children is everyone's responsibility was as important to the NSPCC as the opportunity to raise funds. This has been boosted by regular fundraising events, whether organised at national level or carried out by individual stores.

"The fundraising programme has been bi-monthly, so there has always been NSPCC branding in stores," says Mackenzie. "And stores have been doing their own fundraising, even down to collection tins on till counters."

Fundraising events have spanned the spectrum from fancy-dress parties to tea parties, the Three Peaks Challenge, sponsored head-shaves and a ball celebrating Spar's 50th anniversary, which raised £114,000 on the night. "It has given us the opportunity to go to town on the partnership," says Kam Nijhar, brand manager at Spar. The company donated £250,000 and the rest has come from staff and customers. "What has worked well in this partnership is that we've had the opportunity to work with national fundraisers, but everybody has got behind it in terms of doing their own independent activities," says Nijhar.

Cause-related marketing has formed an important element of the partnership with companies such as Mars. "Spar was able to open that door for us," says Mackenzie. The aim is to raise an extra £250,000 in the remaining nine months of the relationship.

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