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Partnership in a pandemic: how Credit Suisse delivered an incredible Charity of the Year partnership despite lockdown

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by Cancer Research UK | Philanthropy and partnerships

20 May 2021

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Collage of Credit Suisse's fundraising endeavours

In January 2020, we were thrilled to launch our partnership with Credit Suisse, the global investment bank, as their UK Charity of the Year. We couldn’t have imagined that a few months into the initiative, COVID-19 would result in a national lockdown that would drastically change the fundraising landscape. However, despite the constraints the pandemic placed on them, employees at Credit Suisse have raised nearly £2m through an innovative series of staff fundraising events and generous corporate donations. As a celebration of their amazing fundraising, and as a thank you for extending the partnership to December 2021, we explore how Credit Suisse adapted its plans to run an extraordinary Charity of the Year partnership during a pandemic.  

The Credit Suisse UK Charity of the Year programme began in 2008 and has raised over £14m for good causes. Staff can nominate charities close to their hearts and then vote on a shortlist of charities they would like to support that year. Whilst the bank supports several charities through grants and skills-based volunteering, their Charity of the Year stands to benefit from Credit Suisse’s fundraising activities.  

Their sustained commitment to fundraising has seen Credit Suisse build a stellar calendar of tried and tested fundraising activities. Sadly, this all had to be put hold in 2020, but Credit Suisse employees didn’t let that stop them. Jog LEJOG – a running challenge from Land’s End to John O’Groats – became a successful virtual event which, without the need for travel, was a more inclusive opportunity for colleagues. They were even able to include colleagues from across Europe, showing that no matter where you’re based, you can come together to fundraise and stay active. Similarly, the All Staff Quiz became a virtual comedy evening with a twist – with staff donating to vote for which senior member of staff would be put in the spotlight for a ribbing from well-known comedians.  

Going above and beyond 

At the outset of the partnership, before COVID-19 hit, Credit Suisse’s aim was to raise £800k to fully fund a research project into how immunotherapy could become a viable treatment option for more people with cancer. Thanks to their innovation and perseverance, Credit Suisse employees smashed their target – raising a staggering £1.85m in hugely challenging circumstances. This means that they not only fully funded the original research project but donated to CRUK’s Nurse Helpline too, which saw an increase in calls from people worried about cancer diagnosis and treatment at the start of the pandemic. They have also agreed to extend the partnership to December 2021 and fund our Health Facilitator Programme, in which teams of experts work with health professionals in deprived areas of the UK to prevent and diagnose cancers sooner. 

“Credit Suisse has truly demonstrated incredible support for our partnership when we needed them the most.” 

And Credit Suisse did more than just fundraising. Together we set ourselves some strategic objectives for the partnership, including promoting a healthy lifestyle to staff. Over the past year, we’ve worked closely with them to raise awareness among staff of the small lifestyle changes that can help reduce their cancer risk.  

“Credit Suisse has truly demonstrated incredible support for our partnership when we needed them most. It was a difficult year for us, but Credit Suisse employees stepped up to support us with this challenge and we have been absolutely blown away by their efforts” says Caro Evans, Director of Partnerships at Cancer Research UK. “We are thrilled to continue our partnership in 2021. This is such an exciting opportunity to fund more of our vital work. We could not be more thankful and we look forward to seeing what the partnership has in store for the future.” 

Rising to the challenge 

Like many businesses, Credit Suisse has had to overcome challenges as a result of the pandemic – not least remote working. Remote working became the norm across the country but as a new of working for staff at the bank, was quite an adjustment. Utilising tech innovations and an agile approach to working, their employees have risen to the challenge with enthusiasm and dedication, just as they did with their fundraising. Their Charity of the Year committee and various staff across the organisation suggested innovative ways to engage with our work, and we’re thrilled to see their passion and commitment being recognised by being shortlisted for Best Corporate Partnership in the Banks and Financial Services Category at the Business Charity Awards.   

Edward Bowers is senior partnership relations executive at Cancer Research UK

Find out more about partnerships at Cancer Research UK