Marie Curie Cancer Care is pleased with the "natural link" between its work and that of the Garden Centre Group. "Gardens are very important to our patients and their families, and they bring real spiritual benefits," says Jane Collins, chief executive of the charity.
As well as providing home care to people with terminal illnesses, Marie Curie runs nine hospices that rely on volunteer gardeners. "Some corporate partnerships are great for us to be associated with, but this one fits like a glove on the hand," says Collins.
The sustainability consultancy Good Values brought the charity and the Garden Centre Group together. Marie Curie emerged victorious from a vote by 5,000 employees to become the group's principal charity partner. The Garden Centre Group was acquired by the private equity group Terra Firma in 2012, and since then it has also raised £300,000 for the children's charity NSPCC.
The two-year partnership with Marie Curie has a target of £500,000, but the two organisations hope they will raise as much as £1m. A significant proportion - about £300,000 - will come from fees paid for the use of the group's 80 children's play areas and will be split between Marie Curie and the children's charity the NSPCC. "That is committed money, a stable source of income," says Stephen Murphy, the group's chairman.
There is a series of "co-marketing" promotions that began in March with a cause-related marketing deal on daffodil sales. Collins says the charity will be boosted by the "ripple effect" of exposure to the 30 million people who visit the group's garden centres each year.