When I first started working in the charity sector, little did I know that a couple of years down the line, the humble exercise bike would be the solution to a difficult challenge! I have managed the new business team, which sits within the corporate fundraising team, at Breast Cancer Care for two and a half years. I started the job following a 12 month career break travelling around Africa and Asia but I'd previously worked at Save the Children in a similar role so I knew what to expect.
Breast Cancer Care's corporate partners account for around a third of the charity's annual income. My team work with companies and brands to establish mutually beneficial partnerships that help achieve business objectives for companies whilst raising funds and awareness for people affected by breast cancer.
Every year 55,000 women and men are diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK. They may be frightened, confused, lonely and desperately in need of a sympathetic ear as well as full of questions about what's going to happen next, so the work Breast Cancer Care does is really important. We are the only UK-wide charity dedicated to providing services and support for them and their families and friends.
Although some of the sectors which are the most obvious 'fit' with the charity are beauty and fashion, we have always wanted to branch out into areas such as the legal sector. We knew it was a cause which the legal sector could relate to. Our new chair of the board of trustees, Emma Burns, is a Partner at Hugh James and was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1998. Male lawyers have wives, sisters, daughters and mothers who could be diagnosed and need our support too. Plus 400 men are diagnosed with breast cancer each year in the UK.
Unfortunately, there were limited opportunities for Breast Cancer Care to engage with law firms as part of a strategic partnership. The majority of law firms have well established and clearly defined Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policies which focus predominately on issues such as social inclusion, social mobility, and access to finance and justice. Our solution was to create a fundraising model to sit alongside and complement existing CSR policies. We have created an easy to implement annual event which gives the legal sector the opportunity to raise funds for a cause which is relevant to both employees and clients and the broader society in which they operate.
We called the event Tour de Law.
Tour de Law challenges the legal sector to race 1,000km from London to Paris and back on office-based exercise bikes. The cycling challenge takes place over two days in early October as part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
We launched Tour de Law last year and had six firms with over 3,500 employees take part. Each law firm hosted two exercise bikes, provided by Breast Cancer Care, and staff made a donation to sign up for 15-minute cycle slots. This fundraising mechanic worked really well for employees as it doesn't take up too much time, it was affordable and very competitive! We awarded titles not just for the law firm that raced the fastest, but also for the law firm that raised the most money and individual fastest cyclists (our Pink Jersey Riders!) and Partners. We have an engaging website where we publicise results - including leadership boards and live route maps, showing who is winning and who is close on the heels! Results change quickly as our competing firms vie for first place!
This year, we are hosting Tour de Law for the second time. We have 13 law firms signed up and we're hoping to raise over £50,000. We are excited to see who will be crowned our 2013 Tour de Law Campion!
We are also taking the model to other sectors such as accountancy and investment banking. Tour de Law is a brilliant way for our charity to reach a new audience and all the money raised allows Breast Cancer Care to ensure that anyone who needs our support can access our services for free.
If you'd like to get involved go to breastcancercare.org.uk/tourdelaw to find out more.