Delegates to an Institute of Fundraising corporate fundraising event were told that three of the top five charities to benefit from cause-related marketing (CRM) were cancer charities.
These were Cancer Research UK (ranked 1), Breakthrough Breast Cancer (3) and Breast Cancer Care (4), according to Business in the Community.
The other two favourites were Barnardo's and Comic Relief, the latter benefiting from its huge media profile to push it into the top five.
Staff polling by businesses to choose their 'charity of the year' adds to the bias in favour of high-profile charities for the more popular causes, said delegates.
"The staff votes at the big retailers are mums on tills, so what are you going to get - kids and cancer," said one disability charity fundraiser.
And a fundraiser for Samaritans said: "Samaritans sometime finds it hard to win votes as it is a broad-spectrum cause that does not come at the top of everyone's list."
Several disability and mental-health charities last year combined to form the Disability United consortium, which makes joint pitches for corporate partnerships (Third Sector, 5 May).
While some companies restrict their choice of charities to themes to prevent the same causes winning all the time, staff selection is increasingly popular in CRM programmes. Chris Holmes, researcher for Business in the Community, said charities surveyed by the organisation said 20 per cent of their total income came from CRM.
However, that figure only represents those charities that use CRM. Figures from the NCVO for corporate fundraising showed it to be worth 4 per cent of total charity income. Some 47 per cent of CRM partnerships are initiated by businesses.