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Mar 15, 2017

Good deeds indeed

by Jackie Marshall - Senior Account Director

Good deeds indeed

Visiting my local Waitrose recently I was given a plastic coin at the checkout to vote for one of three local charities. Being a regular visitor to the store I knew this was not a recent initiative, but it did get me thinking about how other retailers were making a difference to their own communities or charitable causes. The more I looked into it, the more impressed I was at the scale of the schemes in place. I even spotted a look-a-like idea in Tesco – albeit with red and blue discs, not green!

At the moment, pop in to any Sainsbury’s and you could not fail to notice the highly visible campaign that’s raising money for Comic Relief. The grocer’s Red Nose Day initiative, supported by a significant media budget and a wealth of in-store POS, raised an incredible £12.4m two years ago and seems on track to do even better in 2017.

Other major retailers have chosen similar national charity partners in the past but there are three areas that always seem to resonate with me, as both a mum and a marketer, when it comes to such partnerships.

Let’s start with kids as I was particularly impressed with Tesco’s idea of providing fresh fruit for children as they accompany their parents around the store, along with the ‘Farm to Fork’ Schools Trail project.

Waitrose too have reached almost 250,000 school children with their ‘Grow and Sell’ scheme whilst Sainsbury’s have constantly invested in a programme to promote activity amongst youngsters. The retailer’s Active Kids and Active Kids Paralympian Challenge schemes have donated millions of pounds worth of sporting equipment to clubs, schools and groups nationwide.

The New Policy Institute published a report in 2016 highlighting that 21% of the UK population are living in poverty, so it is encouraging to see the steps being made towards supporting food sharing and distribution; my second focus.

All major food retailers are running initiatives in conjunction with organisations such as FareShare, Neighbourly and the Trussell Trust. Across the trade, schemes include re-distributing surplus food from stores, food collection baskets and even running household budgeting and basic cookery courses with local charities… great ideas with even greater benefits.

My final charitable passion, linked to local causes, is another area taken to heart by the retail sector as supermarkets realise the benefits of supporting the communities they serve.

Through it’s Community Matters boxes in store, Waitrose has donated £14m to local charities since the scheme started in 2008 and the Co-Op too has played its part via their own membership scheme. Every time you shop, 1% of your spend on own brand products and services goes to the Co-Op Local Community Fund which, along with money raised from carrier bag sales, has helped support over 4,000 local causes.

The schemes mentioned only really just scratch the surface of all the good work being done across the retail trade but having spent time looking into this in more depth, I’m left with a warm feeling about our society.

Despite many negative headlines and highlighted challenges within the food industry, there is a huge amount of goodwill, time, effort and resource being put towards supporting the things that we care about most, and long may it continue.

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