Marie Curie is Homebase's first charity partner since it was sold by Sainsbury's in 2000. Five charities pitched for the privilege and Marie Curie emerged victorious, with 39 per cent of staff voting for it.Lorna Liggett, community affairs manager at Homebase, admits that a staff vote increases the likelihood that familiar names will be chosen, but she says Homebase's parent company, Home Retail Group, believes it is important for staff to feel involved in the choice.
"We feel it's really important to get the employee buy-in and for them to really feel empowered as to who the charitable partner is," she says.
According to Celia Gomez, corporate development executive at Marie Curie, the fact that the charity has a network of community fundraisers who can be matched up with local Homebase stores was a big factor in its selection. Staff know that money raised will stay in the local area and that they will have opportunities to volunteer.
The partnership aims to raise £500,000 over two years. Staff have a target of raising £300,000, and the rest will come from cause-related marketing schemes. Homebase stores will sell potted daffodils - Marie Curie's flower symbol - for £1.99, with 10p from each sale going to the charity.
The staff of the two companies that make up the Home Retail Group - Argos and Homebase - clearly have similar taste in charities. Argos has also chosen an organisation that provides home care for sick and terminally ill people; it has selected Help the Hospices.
"It's not planned that way," says Liggett. "But both businesses are about the home, and that is one of the reasons there has been synergy between charity partners."