The Co-op’s new Christmas ad is all about kindness. The message behind Sainsbury’s Calamitous Christmas ad is one of sharing. Yet if these ads strike you as in any way cynical, the credentials of the UK supermarkets when it comes to kindness, sharing and giving are in fact highly credible, and the industry deserves a lot more credit than it receives.
Only this week I attended a Leadership Symposium at Wembley Stadium that raised £60,000 for Grocery Aid. That’s on top of the £320,000 raised at the Sporting Heroes luncheon last month. And in total, the grocery industry has raised over £4.5m for this charity in the last year to support industry colleagues who have fallen upon hard times.
The sums raised for such industry charities are dwarfed, however, by the huge sums supermarkets donate through their mobilisation of colleagues and customers. Tesco donated almost £37.9m last year in this way. And gave a further £55m donation from its profits. It’s not alone in giving. Sainsbury’s raised £52m in 2014. Asda £24m. Morrisons £12m. Then there’s the millions fmcg suppliers raise through generous donations, as well as cause-related marketing programs that have funded charity programmes here and across the world.
And, of course, individual donors from the grocery sector are some of the most generous sponsors of all, with the Sainsbury family still topping The Sunday Times Giving List in 2015.
Sadly, establishing the total contribution our industry makes to good causes has proved an impossible task in this special charity issue. Nor is it possible to say exactly how charities have benefited from the grocery industry’s benevolence. Though company accounts sometimes detail donations, there is no known database or auditing process that can provide up-to-date league tables or charity-based breakdowns of business donations on a meaningful level. Which is a shame. Maybe one of the other big four (the accountants) could step up to the plate.
OK, so the sums are dwarfed by the £30bn Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg announced this week he will give away. But the £95m Sainsbury’s has raised for Comic Relief since 1999 and the £44m Asda has delivered for Tickled Pink since 1996, for example, represent a very meaningful legacy and at the same time are just the tip of the iceberg.
Anyway, we think the industry deserves some credit for its charitable deeds. And in the absence of hard data to tell the full story we would welcome more details of you or your company’s contributions to charity.