The Muscular Dystrophy Campaign was selected as the Somerfield Group's Charity of the Year in July 2003. This corporate partnership generated £1.5m for the charity, mostly raised by the company's staff and charity supporters.
The Charity of the Year scheme is managed by the Somerfield supermarkets' staff lottery fund, which is responsible for the charity selection process and for raising donations from employees. The money put into the fund is raised through a £1 monthly donation from 27,000 members and through sponsored events.
Thirty charities took part in last year's Charity of the Year contest.
Brian Benjamin, manager of the staff lottery fund, shortlisted five charities, including the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign.
He then invited each of them to make a presentation in front of staff from all the company's departments. Benjamin said that the choice in favour of the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign was given a real boost when office secretary Lin Smith, whose two sons are affected by the disease and who has been a trustee of the charity for 10 years, lobbied her colleagues during the meeting.
But the final choice was down to a staff vote that took place through one of the company's newsletters. The Muscular Dystrophy Campaign was selected six months before the one-year partnership started, to allow time to plan activities for the charity's tenure.
How it worked
In April, the Somerfield Group invited food industry suppliers, staff and celebrities to a masquerade ball on a P&O cruise liner in support of the charity. Celebrities included former Big Brother contestant 'Nasty' Nick Bateman and Five presenter Tiff Needell. The event, which lasted two days and attracted 1,500 people, raised £1.1m through ticket sales, raffles and auctions.
The next month, during the charity's awareness week 'Muscle for Muscles', more than 500,000 leaflets and posters were distributed in the retailer's 1,300 stores across the country, asking customers to support the event by starting their own fundraising initiative or by making telephone donations.
The two partners also developed two cause-related marketing initiatives that generated £22,000. Somerfield and Kwik Save, which merged in 1998 to form the Somerfield Group, sold Christmas cards, with 50p from each pack going directly to the charity. A similar initiative was run in May with flower bouquets.
Additionally, staff at Somerfield and Kwik Save stores raised £300,000 throughout the year. Events included tombolas, sponsored events such as the 'big car wash' and a raffle with a hot air balloon ride prize that raised £20,000.
The Somerfield Group raised a total of £1.5m. More than 90 per cent was generated through staff fundraising and donations from the company's high-profile guests during its two-day cruise on the English Channel. The group's direct contribution included the £22,000 raised through the sales of Christmas cards and flowers.
The funds were used to relaunch the charity's website this summer, providing more information about developments in research and treatments. The website will continue to run with funding from Somerfield until August 2005.
Almost £245,000 was given to the Joseph Patrick Trust, the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign's welfare fund, to provide equipment and wheelchairs to 150 disabled people through grants over the following year.
The charity was also able to fund eight family care officers and a research assistant post for one year.
Staff were rewarded for their commitment at an award ceremony on 27 October at the Thistle Birmingham City Hotel. Awards included Best Store, won by Somerfield's Buckley branch, which raised £7,019.