ChildLine and Timpson

'Easily replicated' idea has raised £2m for ChildLine in a decade

Most charities would be green with envy over a partnership that could consistently bring in £200,000 a year over a 10-year period.

Yet the formula behind the partnership between the telephone helpline ChildLine and Timpson, the high-street shoe repairer and key cutter, is astoundingly simple. And it could easily be replicated, according to ChildLine.

John Timpson, chair of the family-run business, had the idea for the partnership in 2000. Staff in the company's shops frequently did small jobs for customers - such as punching an extra belt hole - for free. Why not, thought Timpson, ask customers for a £1 donation for ChildLine in return?

The gambit has been an enduring success. Last year it raised £240,000. The partnership last month passed the landmark of £2m over its lifetime. "The reason it's so successful is that there is no barrier to entry," says Adina Watt, corporate fundraising manager at ChildLine. "Every employee can take part."

John Timpson served as a trustee of ChildLine, founded by Esther Rantzen, for four years before the merger with the NSPCC in 2005. "He doesn't just know me as the fundraiser," says Watt. "He knows the volunteer counsellors who talk to the children every day. He understands the value of that."

Watt says the idea could easily be transferred to other companies. ChildLine has benefited from schemes run in restaurants where serving staff ask diners to add a discretionary pound to the bill in aid of the charity.

It seems ChildLine will be able to rely on the annual Timpson cheque for the foreseeable future.

"Why stop a good thing when it's going so well?" says John Timpson. "I think the staff that work in our shops would be pretty irritated if I tried to stop it."

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