So, we’ve all heard the phrase, and it’s been attributed to the Bible, Charles Dickens and a physician from the 1600s. No matter, the idea is that we should look after our nearest and dearest before considering the welfare of others. Essentially, if you want to make the world a better place, start in your own back yard.

But what about businesses? Should they be concerned about being a good corporate citizen? Or should they focus their energies on the bottom line?

In 2013 a Foresters survey of 1,100 reported that given a choice between two companies offering the same price for products and services, a huge 82% would make a purchasing decision based on whether a company engaged with charities and its local community. It demonstrates that increasingly savvy consumers have an expectation that the companies they buy from are making an effort to support good causes.

The mutual benefits of a charity partnership are wide ranging, and at The Tonic’s Nottingham PR agency, we’ve supported Vision Express as it has established a Charitable Foundation, engaging six eye health-related organisations across the UK and Ireland.

One partner, the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust (CHECT) helps families affected by a rare and life-threatening condition called retinoblastoma. Its campaign called #HaveyouCHECT, which educates the public on how a smartphone can help detect the condition, attracted national attention during May’s World Retinoblastoma Week.

The Tonic was proud to support this via a targeted media relations programme for Vision Express, with eye cancer survivors visiting stores to rally their fundraising efforts. The activity generated more than 50 pieces of coverage to date, with a reach of more than 20 million.

For businesses considering a charitable partnership as part of a CSR strategy, The Tonic’s checklist is:

Shared goals: Ensuring synergy between both parties from the outset and a clear understanding of each other’s objectives is important. The importance of an eye test was crucial common ground for Vision Express and CHECT.
Fundraising: Managing a fundraising strategy that delivers and has company-wide buy in. The total raised for CHECT in 2014 by Vision Express topped £160,000.
Raising awareness: Aligning key messages and working collaboratively on business and consumer PR opportunities can reap huge benefits, which delivered almost 200 pieces of coverage in 2014, reached more than 10 million consumers.
Educating staff: Vision Express was the first optician to roll out a protocol nationwide, to ensure urgent referrals for children showing symptoms of retinoblastoma. CHECT’s latest research shows 100% of opticians are now taking the crucial right steps to help in a speedy diagnosis. The partnership is actually making a different, at a grassroots level.
Staff engagement and team building: An ambassador programme has been positively received by CHECT members, who are passionate about helping support the partnership, whilst Vision Express has seen a significant rise in staff satisfaction and engagement, as they work together for a worthy cause.

On a personal level we’ve enjoyed working with CHECT, and made our own donation to the campaign. If you wish to do the same, visit:

For more information on CHECT’s #HaveyouCHECT campaign, click here.

Details of the Vision Express Charitable Foundation are available here.

Pictured is eye cancer survivor Luke Jones (right), when he visited the Oswestry Vision Express store with brother Ben (left), representing CHECT.