FUNDRAISING NEWS: Project to explore links to commercial sector

ANNIE KELLY

A new project aims to show voluntary sector organisations how to cash in on the growing and lucrative "charity of the year

market.

Increasing numbers of companies are adopting a charity as a focus for fundraising activities for a year.

BCConnections, a charity that fosters links between voluntary organisations and the business world, launches a research project into such partnerships in May.

The project will analyse the cost-effectiveness of charity of the year schemes and result in a set of guidelines for organisations and businesses that want to forge links.

"There's a feeling in the voluntary sector that charity of the year relationships tend to focus on certain organisations, notably children's and cancer charities,

said Fabia Bates, acting chief executive at BCConnections.

"Our research will look closely at such issues and suggest ways that smaller charities can forge profitable ties with commercial companies,

she said.

Research will include recommendations on how charities should approach companies, and guidelines on how to administer fundraising campaigns.

BCConnections will also publish suggestions on how to make a long-term relationship sustainable.

Research into current levels of activity will be followed by a round of interviews with a cross-section of charities and companies to identify potential issues that could arise from these partnerships.

The research will also explore problems with administering partnerships with business.

Potentially, charity of the year partnerships are extremely lucrative.

Tesco raised more than £2 million for the Alzheimer's Society and Alzheimer's Scotland after adopting them in 2001.

Simon Henderson, head of corporate social responsibility at Centrica, which owns companies such as British Gas and the AA, believes that adopting the Cystic Fibrosis Trust as a key charity has helped foster communities within the workplace.

"We employ more than 30,000 people and working with a charity of the year has proved a good way of generating team building and developing a strong sense of working together for a common cause,

he said.

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