Business partner: The MND Association and the Midlands Co-operative Society

The charity that supports people with motor neurone disease linked up with a regional consumer cooperative

The MND Association and the Midlands Co-operative Society
The MND Association and the Midlands Co-operative Society

The Motor Neurone Disease Association is a national charity, but its headquarters are in Northampton, so there is a central England flavour to many of its partnerships.

The charity has previously worked with the eastern region of the chain store Wilkinson, Northamptonshire County Cricket Club and Arden Fine Foods, based in Coventry. Its corporate partnership with the Midlands Co-operative Society, which ran from 2010 to 2012, was its largest ever. "We are not based in London, so we tend to get support from companies outside the capital," says Ben Sharpe, its senior corporate fundraiser. "People often see us as a local charity."

The partnership with the Midlands raised £465,000 over two and half years. The society employs 7,000 people and, although it is one of a number of retail cooperative societies in the national Co-operative Group, it operates independently.

A considerable effort was put into making the partnership successful because it was the MND Association's biggest-ever corporate catch. The charity visited every supermarket, travel store and funeral home that the Midlands runs - 475 in total - in order to thank them for fundraising.

The partnership has become the template the charity uses to approach new business relationships. "The key is letting people know what their money is doing," says Sharpe.

Joy Welsh, public relations officer at Midlands, says: "Because we were the main corporate partner, we were kept well informed of everything that happened. That's how it differed from some of the more national charities."

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