Focus: Campaign of the week - Take a coffee break for Macmillan

Georgina Lock, georgina.lock@haynet.com

We are a nation of gossips and love to get together over a cup of coffee for a chat, according to a survey commissioned by Macmillan Cancer Relief for the World's Biggest Coffee Morning.

This is the message the charity is attaching to its flagship event, which raises awareness and funds for its work helping people living with cancer.

On Friday, thousands of people in homes and offices across the UK will take part in this year's World's Biggest Coffee Morning, which it is hoped will raise £5.8m.

Now in its fifteenth year, the cogs of the coffee morning's campaign wheel have been turning since February, when the charity contacted the 35,000 donors who hosted a coffee morning last year to say thank you and ask them to take part again.

In May, a registration pack and newsletter were sent to 170,000 people, with a letter from actor Martin Clunes asking people to organise parties.

A further mailing went out in August.

Helen Gray, event manager at Macmillan, said the warm supporters, mainly aged over 50, are the main target. The strategy seems to be paying off, with 7,600 more people than last year having registered to hold an event.

When it became apparent that more hosts were opting to use their workplaces as venues, Macmillan hired telephone agency PTF to chase people who had previously held workplace-based events, but not for at least two years.

This also proved effective, with half agreeing to participate again this year. A mass-market campaign was also launched through radio stations including Classic FM and women's magazines.

A poster campaign is being tested throughout certain cities in the UK, to see if registration improves in these areas. Both Viacom and JCDecaux have donated space.

Celebrities including Neil Fox and Emma Forbes are backing the event, and the three main party leaders - Tony Blair, Michael Howard and Charles Kennedy - have pledged support.

A number of companies, including AOL and npower, have sponsored the fundraiser, and the Co-op has provided Fairtrade coffee tokens, which were sent out in the fundraising packs to the coffee morning organisers.

Gray said: " It is massive this year. We are really getting the buzz and the fundraising packs are flying out of the door."

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