grocery aid

Founded: 1857

Mission statement: “Making life better for grocery people in need; from factory to store, we help everyone”

Money raised in 2014/15: £4,549,480

Money spent in 2014/15: £3,957,787


GroceryAid was formed in 1857, but it wasn’t until 1965 that it held its first annual lunch. It raised £1,000. On 6 November 2015 it held its 51st annual lunch, which for the past 30 years has had a sporting theme, and raised a whopping £320,000.

The figure is a clear indication of how the charity has grown and developed, though it’s dwarfed by the total raised overall - last year alone it raised £4.5m and spent just shy of £4m on deserving causes, a 3% increase on the previous year.

That money helped 7,800 former employees of the food and drink industry in the UK, either with financial assistance or via the GroceryAid helpline (08088 021122 or email

The helpline was launched in 2010 and is available 24/7, 365 days a year, for anyone who works, or who used to work, in the grocery industry to call and receive free advice on anything from legal issues to personal ones, like family, children and relationships, and career support, such as a ‘back to work’ programme.

In financial terms, GroceryAid can offer eligible people an annual payment of up to £884 following an assessment. It also ensures those people have safe and fully functioning domestic appliances, from washing machines to televisions.

It can also provide one-off emergency grants and ‘voucher hampers’, which are made up of a bundle of coupons, vouchers and gift cards from supermarkets and brands. The GroceryAid website has several examples of life-changing stories from people who have benefitted from the charity.

Industry generosity

“Historically our financial support had been all about those who had retired from our industry,” says GroceryAid director general Gillian Barker.

“However as the economics of the country change we are now seeing many more people of working age experiencing hardship. We continually address these shifts by re-assessing our criteria for assistance and continue to broaden the range of practical and emotional support we offer.

“This can be financial support or via our 24/7 helpline where we offer a broad range of tools from debt advice to relationship counselling to practical support for those who act as carers.

“It is only thanks to the ongoing generosity of our industry that we can continue to offer real help to everyone eligible for our assistance. We are about to make the largest quarterly payment of close to £1m to our beneficiaries.

“We will also be sending them our Christmas card and a wallet of grocery gift cards and coupons that have been supplied by our supporters. Knowing that we can give some help and support at a time when many will be alone, or not able to enjoy the Christmas festivities most of us take for granted, gives all of us at GroceryAid an immense sense of achievement.”


fare share

Founded: 2004

Mission statement: “No good food should be wasted”

Food saved from waste in 2014/15: 7,961 tonnes

Meals provided in 2014/15: 16.6 million


No question, 16.6 million meals fills a lot of hungry stomachs. But FareShare is more than about simply saving food destined for waste and turning it into real meals.

It always aims to supply those meals to places that offer what it describes as “life-changing support” to people, like breakfast clubs for disadvantaged children, homeless hostels, community cafés and domestic violence refuges.

The theory is that by ensuring edible food isn’t wasted, an environmental problem can evolve into a social solution.

And it’s working in practice, too. In the past 12 months, the number of charities and community projects supported with food by FareShare has increased by 48%, on top of growth the previous year of 41%. The upshot: by the end of 2014/15 it had delivered enough food for 15.3 million people to 1,923 charities and community projects, saving them £20m a year. They say if FareShare did not exist, they would all have to stop offering food.

FareShare started life in 1994 as Crisis FareShare, co-founded by homeless charity Crisis and Sainsbury’s. It became an independent charity in 2004 in order to grow and support more people suffering from food poverty, rather than just the homeless.

Along the way, FareShare has forged close links with other supermarkets, including Asda and Tesco, and says it is “developing its relationships” with The Co-op, M&S, Waitrose, Aldi and Lidl.

It is also supported by a host of fmcg brands including Kellogg’s, Nestlé and Coca-Cola. And in June, it hosted the first FareShare Food Surplus Summit, in partnership with the British Retail Consortium, the Food & Drink Federation and the Fresh Produce Consortium.

Massive growth

“2015 has been a second year of massive growth for FareShare,” says CEO Lindsay Boswell.

“Our work starts with more food businesses diverting more of their surpluses through us to more charities. We now help to feed 167,500 every week. The response to our Food Summit in June and the increased awareness of the good that food businesses can do with their surpluses has led to many new food partners and many established ones increasing their support.

“That said no reader of this should regard the situation as ‘job done’ as charities demand is outstripping food growth. So we are really keen to talk to more food businesses up and down the supply chain, local, regional or national to help grow our food volumes even further in 2016.

“One further positive in 2015 has been the increased number of people from the food industry who are volunteering, either individually or as part of an established programme, to help deliver the FareShare mission. To all our partners in all four nations of the UK, thank you.”

Farm Africa

farm africa

Founded: 1985

Mission Statement: “End hunger - grow farming”

Money raised in 2014: £13.8m

Money spent in 2014: £13m


In 1984, a shocking news report from BBC journalist Michael Buerk woke the globe up to the human devastation being wreaked by the Ethiopian famine. That same year, Band Aid (and later Live Aid) continued to open up a wider understanding of the resourcing issues affecting Africa as a whole. A year later, in 1985, Farm Africa was created.

Crucially, it didn’t seek to simply donate money, but believed supporting and developing sustainable small-scale agriculture was the solution to ending hunger and poverty in rural areas of Africa. It also believed that with the right support, Africa could feed itself. Thirty years on it hit record levels of fundraising with £13.8m, up 7% on 2013, and was able to reach 1.4 million people. Some 85% of that money was spent on “charitable activities” and 14% on generating more funds. Just 1% was spent on governance. In 2011, the fmcg industry bonded together as Food for Good to generate money for Farm Africa and has raised more than £1m to date.

With a theme of tough physical challenges, recent projects have included digging a fish farm, building hundreds of beehives and climbing mountains.

“Farm Africa’s aquashops have shown we can make a real difference to farmers’ incomes,” says Josh Meek, programme support officer at Farm Africa. “A total of 56 Aqua Shops now offer services to 8,165 fish farmers. The project has led to a 36% increase in production and a 63% increase in farmer incomes.”

As for the beekeepers, they are now producing an average of 40kg of honey a year. Farmers’ incomes have increased from 309,685 Tsh to 358,316 Tsh - it is estimated that 23% of their household income is directly attributable to activities they are involved in through the Farm Africa project.

One beekeeper, Lucia Chami, has been able to harvest 10 times the average yield of honey. “With the money I pay school fees for my children, I have been able to construct my family house and I have been able to buy a motorcycle that assists me in my work. I have attended various training on beekeeping conducted by Farm Africa and that made me what I am today.”

And let’s not forget consumer-based fundraising

asda staff fundraising

Supermarkets have long been able to mobilise colleagues and customers to generate millions for charity. But the sums are rising.

Tesco donated £55m from its profits plus £37.9m via colleague and customer fundraising-an increase of 412% compared to five years ago. It also works with suppliers to raise money, such as Stourgarden, which has raised £40,000 for Cancer Research UK by donating 2p from every pack of Rosanna onions sold since 2012.

Sainsbury’s is also famous for engaging with customers, raising £95m for Comic Relief since 1999, and has built its Christmas advertising around its charitable partners. After last year’s British Legion epic, this year its Christmas ad featured Mog, and it worked with author Judith Kerr to create a new book to be sold in Sainsbury’s alongside a cuddly Mog. Both sold out. All profits went to Save the Children. In 2014 it raised £52m.

Asda supported a wide range of charities in 2014, raising £24m. It has also raised over £44m for Tickled Pink since 1996 through branded products and customer and colleague participation.

Morrisons’s colleague charity in 2014 was Sue Ryder - it raised £2.2m and £10m for local good causes. And it teamed up with Iceland, Asda and Waitrose in October to donate all funds from the carrier bag charge to establish a Dementia Research Institute at University College London. Iceland has personally pledged £10m.

As for brands, Unilever, whose portfolio includes Persil, Dove and Marmite, donated £8m last year and P&G, whose brands include Fairy, Duracell and Pringles, donated £5.8m. Unilever says 50% of growth in 2014 was attributable to on-pack promos claiming to save the rainforest, provide clean water to developing countries, or educate young women.

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