February 4th 2022 is World Cancer Day, an opportunity for us all to recognise the importance of cancer charities, raise awareness and funds, and make a difference for those who are working tirelessly to ensure we have the best opportunities for our futures to fight the second-leading cause of death worldwide.
You don’t need us to remind you about the impact that the coronavirus pandemic has had on all of us on a personal and professional level over the last two years - with so many industries hit particularly hard with the fallout of ever-changing government restrictions, and this is extremely true in the charity sector.
With the initial forced closures of trading shops, cancellation of fundraising events of all sizes and scales, and not forgetting the limited supporter fundraising due to over a third of UK workers being placed on furlough  for the 18 months it was running, resulting in reduced incomes and causing personal spending reviews to ensure the essentials could still be bought and so something had to give, which unfortunately and undeniably in most instances was regular charity donations.
But, even with all that was thrown their way, the charity sector had no option but to carry on providing essential services which millions of people rely on, but with just a fraction of the funds they usually receive.
Indeed, one of the UK’s largest Charities, Cancer Research UK, are expecting to see a reduction in fundraising income of £250m from 2020-2023.
Cancer Research’s ambition was to improve cancer survival from 2 in 4, to 3 in 4 people by 2034, potentially saving 3.7 million lives per year, but given this dramatic loss of funding as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, this is now in danger. Cancer is the second-leading cause of death worldwide, and as 1 in 2 of us will get cancer at some point in our lives, we know we can’t afford to be without their vital work.
During the last 12 months alone, Cancer Research estimate that around 46,000 fewer patients started cancer treatment compared to the previous 12 months  - it’s clear to say that we’ll be feeling the impact of this pandemic for a while yet.
So, what do we do? What can we do?
On World Cancer Day, February 4th 2022, it falls to us all to consider what we can do to undo this funding deficit and re-invigorate this vital sector as now, more-than-ever, charities such as Cancer Research UK are in need of our help and support. We feel there’s an opportunity which has been overlooked for too long now which offers a simple solution and really could be a game changer for charity fundraising moving forwards.
Remember these? You find them next to the checkouts in a lot of physical retail stores – a smart way to encourage us to drop any loose change in the pot as we already have our wallets and purses in our hands ready to pay for the goods we’re buying. As the world is becoming increasingly cashless, and more and more consumers are shopping online and sticking with it (whether that’s through choice or being forced to with no physical non-essential retail stores open), what about a digital charity coin pot?
What if all online checkouts had the option for you to donate money to charity right there and then as you’re about to purchase your items? And what would the impact be if all online retailers took their power to support the charity more seriously?
The amount spent in online retail sales increased by over 84% at its peak in November 2020 compared with 2019, and since the pandemic hit, is now responsible for £2,334,200,000 revenue on average per week.0,000 revenue on average per week.
From March 2020, if all online retailers donated just 1% of online revenue to the charity sector, they would have received on average between £15.2m and £33.5m every single week.
With that amount of money, Cancer Research UK’s three year funding deficit would be solved in just over two months.
A boost in funding of this magnitude to the charity sector would drive immeasurable improvements to humanitarian, health, and environmental causes and their ability to improve our world. Particularly when you consider that these statistics are for the UK alone, the effect of adopting this worldwide could completely revolutionise the charity sector.
So, 1%? That’s it? Is it realistic and how could it be done?
We believe it really is as easy as that - here are some simple solutions which businesses can easily implement:
Nectar points, Clubcard, Priory Direct Rewards, and many other loyalty programmes already exist and have done for a long time. Allowing customers to translate the monetary value of their points into charitable donations instead of redeeming them as savings on products is a purely cost neutral exercise for any business. In the first three months of launch, almost ¾ (73%) of our customers have chosen to give their reward points to charity rather than make savings on their order.
The digital charity coin pot; give your customers the option of rounding up their transaction to the nearest whole pound - after all, they have their cards in front of them so it’s minimum hassle and disruption for them. Whilst the maximum charity donation for any one order will be 99p with this mechanism, the money would soon add up if it was offered on every order and by more retailers. Businesses such as Domino’s Pizza are already offering this in support of Teenage Cancer Trust and raised over £1m within 14 months of launching the donation option.
Selling products in conjunction with a charity, or specifying that a percentage of the sales of products will be donated to a charity is another solution to easily raise funds. Priory Elements Planet Friendly Packaging Ranges donate 1% of all proceeds to 1% for the Planet to support environmental charities, M&S give 5% of the sales of their festive sandwiches to Shelter to support their annual winter appeal for combatting homelessness, and Big Wild Thought raise awareness of endangered animals with their apparel, and donate 10% of the sale of each item to a relevant animal charity. Allow your customers to do some good just by purchasing your products.
Using Your Audience:
Online retailers receive millions of visits to their websites and social media channels every month, so what simpler way to provide support to the charity sector than using these to talk to your audience and to raise awareness of causes desperately in need of support? Some businesses have charity partners and their customers won’t even know about them! A lot of the time with charity appeals, they just need access to that large audience to be able to start making a difference.
As mentioned above, even if we just aim for the conservative target of 1% of online sales going to charity, the fundraising potential is colossal. For example, in November 2020 and the lead up to Christmas, online retailers could have collectively donated £32.6 million on average per week to charities. 
We really see this as a no-brainer, a simple and effective opportunity to use the flow of retail to online transactions as a huge force for good. So, businesses, what are you going to do about it? And consumers, how about you?
Consumers, we encourage you to choose responsible retailers, and retailers, take your potential impact and social responsibility seriously.
For the charities and the causes they’re fighting; as Cancer Research UK say: “What will you do? Speak up, stand up, and take action together.”
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Priory Direct Affiliate Team
Chloe Winsper | firstname.lastname@example.org | Lauren Churcher | email@example.com