The Co-operative Group is fast becoming a very attractive prize. With its March 2009 takeover of Somerfield, the Co-op is now the UK's fifth-largest food retailer.
This position, augmented by a merger with the Britannia Building Society and its presence in banking, insurance, funerals and travel, makes it a very lucrative catch.
Fundraising through the Co-op's charity of the year partnerships has grown exponentially, despite the financial crisis and spluttering consumer spending.
In 2005, the group raised £1m for the homelessness charity Shelter. In 2007, £2.9m was raised for the Children's Society and Diabetes UK. In 2009 - charity of the year partnerships happen in alternate years - the RNID received £3.7m.
The target for the 2011 partnership with Mencap and its sister charity Enable Scotland has been set as high as £5m by Peter Marks, chief executive of the Co-operative Group, which is the same as Tesco's target for its 2011 partnership with the Alzheimer's Society.
"Our official target is to get more than we did last time round, which was £3.7m," says Sarah Klueter, senior community investment manager at the Co-op. "Our chief executive has said £5m, but our focus is to beat £3.7m."
From April, using funds raised by the partnership, Mencap and Enable Scotland will launch Inspire Me - a three-year project that aims to recruit 20,000 young people with learning disabilities.
The charities will provide workshops and support so the young people can achieve their aims, such as going into further education, getting jobs or living independently.