At Work: Partnerships - Business partner

Mathew Little

Breast Cancer Care's relationship with Asda has survived for 10 years.

In a world of quick flings and temporary dalliances, Breast Cancer Care's decade-long corporate partnership with Asda has the durability of a steady and secure marriage.

Back in 1997, it was also something of a novelty - one of the first formal company/charity relationships in the UK. It began when a Breast Cancer Care fundraiser wrote to Archie Norman, then Asda chairman and now a Tory MP, asking for help. The fundraising efforts that ensued have since raised more than £10m, enabling the charity to escape its financial dependence on Macmillan Cancer Support, which was its main funder.

That dependence was transferred for a time to the supermarket chain, which at its most influential was responsible for 80 per cent of Breast Cancer Care's income. That figure has now been reduced significantly.

The charity's coffers have continued to swell because of the relationship - it raised £670,000 in 2001, but by last year this had risen to £3.5m. "When we started the relationship, we had 19 employees," says Murray Lindo, director of fundraising and marketing at Breast Cancer Care. "To be able to plan services and respond to the two million requests for information we now get would be unthinkable without the relationship with Asda. We could never have progressed in the way we have done without it."

The relationship survived Asda's takeover by US giant Wal-Mart. "We've had senior managers wanting to change," says Nick Burr, the supermarket's community director. "But when we ask our colleagues and customers, they always say no."

Last year, more than £900,000 was raised by Asda staff members and £2.6m from product sales, mainly the Tickled Pink clothing range. The target is to raise another £10m through a year-long campaign to mark the partnership's tenth anniversary.

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