• Michael Saunders: donate a drink a month to transform Benevolent

    The Benevolent is making big strides to widen both its awareness as the drinks charity for those in the industry who fall on hard times, but also as a support association for those who have issues with their physical or mental health, championed by its award winning #notalone campaign and its new It Could Be Me initiative. But such efforts take up a lot of its resources which is why The Benevolent’s new chairman, Michael Saunders of Bibendum PLB, has made fundraising a key part of his two year tenure and, in particular, quick, practical and simple steps that everyone and anyone in the trade can do to donate small amounts, like the equivalent of a drink a month. Here he explains why.

    The Benevolent is making big strides to widen both its awareness as the drinks charity for those in the industry who fall on hard times, but also as a support association for those who have issues with their physical or mental health, championed by its award winning #notalone campaign and its new It Could Be Me initiative. But such efforts take up a lot of its resources which is why The Benevolent’s new chairman, Michael Saunders of Bibendum PLB, has made fundraising a key part of his two year tenure and, in particular, quick, practical and simple steps that everyone and anyone in the trade can do to donate small amounts, like the equivalent of a drink a month. Here he explains why.

    mm By March 21, 2019

    There any many ways the industry already supports The Benevolent, be it through corporate partnerships, or personal money raising efforts, but it is also the smaller, quicker, more practical ways of raising money that it also wants to encourage in order to tap into wider donations from as many as people as possible.

    The UK is world renown for being a giving nation, always quick to support international fundraising efforts through major campaigns such as Children in Need and last week’s Comic Relief. Those initiatives have been able to really capture the country’s imagination not only through the good work and causes that any money then goes to, but how easy they make it for people to donate. Be it by texting a number on your phone or simply a couple of clicks through to a website. Job done. Money donated and a win, win all round. 

    That is very much the approach that The Benevolent also now wants to foster and promote across all areas of the drinks industry with its new ‘It Could Be Me’ campaign. 

    The #NotAlone campaign to support mental illness has already had a big impact

     

    The charity has generated a great deal of positive press and awards for the work it is doing to help an even wider reach of people with its work. Particularly around initiatives  such as its #notalone campaign to both help those struggling with mental illness, but to help make people more aware of how widespread mental illness in the workplace.  The It Could Be Me campaign takes that work onto another level by encouraging more people in the drinks industry to support it by signing up to more regular contributions, be it every month, quarter or whatever suits. 

    To help promote the initiative it has created a whole range of support materials, from banner ads, email mailers, posters and support booklets that set out the simple steps any business or individual can take.

    A little bit of regular money every month, can make a huge difference particularly when you consider:

    • Average costs of professional carer is £13 per hour to assist a patient with degenerative disease.
    • £20 will help pay someone’s electricity bill for a week
    • One counselling session with one of The Benevolent’s counsellors costs £80 per hour. The Benevolent is already funding several packs of 5 counselling sessions to some members of the trade who can’t afford private therapy.
    • £100 will help a trade colleague affected by motor neurone disease make vital adaptations to their home.

    Spare a drink a month

    It is an initiative that the Benevolent’s new chairman, Michael Saunders, has really taken to his heart and sees it is a central plank of his two years in the role as he set out to great effect at this month’s Benevolent Ball at London’s National History Museum. He again reiterated his appeal for everyone in the trade to spare a drink a month for The Benevolent, be it £5 or £10 or more. If only 10% of the 600,000 people that are said to work across the drinks industry donated £5 a month it would raise a phenomenal £3.6 million per year for the charity.

    “This,” he says, “would completely TRANSFORM our charity and work. And I mean REALLY transform.”

    You can do so through the following link: https://www.thebenevolent.org.uk/donate

    Here Saunders explains in more detail in his commitment to the charity and what difference he hopes to make.

    Tell us about your own personal conviction to do what you can to help The Benevolent? 

    I was flattered to be asked to Chair this wonderful charity last summer. The time between then and taking on the role from Tom (Yusef) allowed me to think about both what the charity does and how I can help during my two years. This led me to think that as some who has loved working in the industry for over 35 years, I hadn’t either focussed on colleagues in the industry who may need support; or given enough back specifically to our industry, despite being involved in many causes over the years.

    What do you hope to be able to achieve during your two years as chairman?

    Simple. Two things became immediately apparent to me. First, given the increased level of demand (not least due to the wonderful #notalone campaign), we were living beyond our means and delving into our reserves. So we MUST raise more money. Second, and this correlates, there simply isn’t enough awareness of The Benevolent in our trade. Sounds crazy, but it’s what I hear time and again. I hope to change the dial on both those areas and articles like this in the business press can really help me on both!

    The Benevolent’s new It Could Be Me campaign is an initiative The Buyer is very happy to support through our own donations and running the supporting banners

    You have had the idea for people to pledge the equivalent of a drink a month – talk us through that. 

    The Benevolent has had fantastic support from companies over the years (we are still hoping for many more). But not enough emphasis on, or success with, personal giving. So I wanted to appeal to the generosity of people who work in the industry in a way that is simple and part of day to day life. And with a simple tag line that all will remember. As so many of us were in ProWein this week, how many drinks were bought for each other. I only ask not that we are back for one or two more for The Benevolent!

    Where did that idea come from?  

    Standing at a bar. It struck me as obvious.

    What sort of donations are you looking for?

    I have been so happy with the donations that have started to come through. When I emailed everyone at Bibendum PLB, the immediate sign up by many was humbling. So really I plead for what people feel able to give. £5, £10, £20 or more per month. It will all help significantly.

    Can you explain what impact a donation of £5 or £10 a month can have for the charity? 

    Really it depends on the success of the campaign (which will run for my two year tenure). In my mind, I have set an absurd target (sales people who have worked with me over the years may smile at that!). The impact, though, is this:

    • we will have a regular and reliable income that we can plan with. The one off fundraising is crucial, hugely appreciated and needed, but can be sporadic.
    • speaking to the Benevolent team, they can get so frustrated that they can’t always support the cases that arrive on their desks. More money = more support for more people.

    For those that don’t know The Benevolent can you quickly sum up what it does? 

    The Benevolent supports people who have worked in our industry who, for one reason or another, have fallen on hard times. We are there to support these people with counselling from professionals; and either regular or one off financial grants.

    What are the other main steps that the Benevolent is taking this year?

    We want to consolidate the great progress made over the last year, whilst hopefully expanding the number of people we are supporting. The Benevolent team does an amazing job given its size – and I really hope that we can increase its impact.

    There is a big focus on mental health…what impact is that having? 

    Joe Fattorini has spoken of his own personal reasons why the #notalone campaign is so important to everyone in the industry

    For those of us who were lucky enough to be at the Benevolent Ball last week and hearing Joe Fattorini’s very brave speech probably summed it all up. To have someone as successful as Joe acknowledge the need of, and the huge benefit of, having The Benevolent help him at a time of need just says it all. We also need to be aware that we are in the business of alcohol. That comes with its particular problems for some. I come from a family that has been afflicted by alcoholism and as part of my time chairing The Benevolent, I hope to get our industry more open – thinking and discussing how we need to support colleagues who have to deal with this horrible disease.

    Anything else you would like to say about your role and The Benevolent? 

    I am so impressed with the dedication of The Benevolent team. I hope that with my input and work, we can deliver even more support for our great industry. I am planning to call on many people to help with this – and to those of you who I have tapped up already, thank you. The response has been uniformly fantastic. Be warned, there are many more of you on my list!

    • To sign up to the It Could Be Me campaign and to help make a personal contribution click here.  
    • If you would like more information about the #notalone campaign then click here.
    • You can peak to a professional counsellor on The Benevolent’s confidential helpline 0800 915 4610, 8am-8pm, seven days a week.
    • If you would like to talk to anyone about how you or your business can get involved in work the Benevolent is doing then contact Alessandra Brugola on Alessandra.Brugola@thebenevolent.org.uk. 

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