It’s no secret that corporate philanthropy is changing. Companies from industries as diverse as mining and logistics publish reports describing ambitious goals to contribute not just money, but their employees’ time and skills to the societies in which they operate
As one of the UK’s most recognised charities, it’s no surprise that Macmillan Cancer Support is at the forefront of changes in corporate philanthropy.
It has used its knowledge of the day-to-day stresses of people living with cancer and the experience from ten years of working with npower, one of the UK’s largest energy providers, to forge a new type of corporate philanthropy.
As Alix Wooding, Macmillan’s head of corporate partnerships, says: “This work is changing people’s lives and that goes a lot further than a corporate donation.”
Although “partnership” can be an overused word in the sector, when properly applied it denotes a valuable, long-term relationship between a charity and company sharing expertise, resources and working together ultimately to help improve people’s lives.
Macmillan’s work with npower is a good example of this. It is, says Ms Wooding, something “we are not only immensely proud of, but that we believe should be emulated across the sector”.
What fuels Macmillan’s pride in the work is not just the £10 million value attributed to the partnership, but because their accomplishments have only been possible because each had expertise the other lacked.
This work is changing people’s lives and that goes a lot further than a corporate donation
Central to this is the Fuel Management Programme. People undergoing cancer treatment spend more time at home, often feel the cold more and need to do more washing than they would otherwise. These people are twice as likely to find themselves in fuel poverty than someone not affected by cancer.
If a person living with cancer is struggling to pay their npower bill, Macmillan’s energy advice team will refer them to npower, who then place the household on an affordable payment plan, capping their bills for two years and writing off any debt.
Since 2007, this programme has made a big difference to thousands of people living with cancer. As Ann Starkie, whose husband Bill was diagnosed with cancer, says: “I was referred to the npower support line and I was in tears over the phone. I said, ‘I don’t know how to pay these bills. We’re showering in cold water, we have nothing.’
I can’t explain just how relieved we were when the lady at npower said they could help. They turned our lives around.”
As Paul Massara, chief executive of npower explains, the company couldn’t have helped its customers in this way if it wasn’t for Macmillan’s knowledge of cancer patients. And Macmillan simply wouldn’t have been able to provide this type of support without npower’s commitment to make a real difference to the lives of their most vulnerable customers.
Mr Massara knows the power of working together. “As one of the most trusted charity brands, Macmillan helps npower ensure we’re giving the right support for those customers who need it most,” he says.
And, as Ms Wooding concludes: “With as many as 500,000 people with cancer worried about heating their home after treatment, npower’s support in alleviating this stress has been invaluable.”
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