Cater's Choice

There are obviously too many of them, but charity 'weeks' and 'days' can work by providing a focus for communications and fundraising - perhaps almost as much in-house, by energising everyone, as for the public or media.

Two upcoming occasions caught my eye. The 10th annual Gut Week began on Monday and runs to 20 July. And, yes, it is all about increasing public awareness of digestive health.

But there is a commercial feel to its "good health begins on the inside" style of marketing, and its publicity admits: "Gut Week is an annual campaign organised by Yakult in conjunction with digestive health charities Core and the Gut Trust." Like the make-up ads that mention the British Skin Foundation, this is at best commercially-led cause-related marketing or, at worst, a cynical use of implied charity endorsement to flog more of one brand among many similar products.

And in promoting good diet and exercise to combat the effects of stress, its bumf avoids tackling any causes and focuses on symptoms, and even has one expert advising "try the effect of a regular probiotic". Its press pack images include a lyrical shot of apples and green vegetables, topped with a Yakult.

In marked contrast, with not a commercial sponsor in sight, 24 July marks the third annual Samaritans 24:7 day, established to highlight its round-the-clock availability and encourage new volunteers through scores of local events across the country during July, from sponsored fasting, balloon races and sleepovers to eBay auctions.

The 24:7 sticks in the mind and offers a high-quality message, while Samaritans does not dilute its sky-high credibility by letting a company organise its annual fundraiser. The media pack contains the astonishing fact that only £1,500 - a reachable target for many sponsored events or collective efforts - "will keep Samaritans running for one hour". More details: www.gutweek.org.uk or www.samaritans247.org.

  - Contact Nick Cater at catercharity@yahoo.co.uk.

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