'Thou Shalt Not Raise Money Outside Thy Catchment Area’ has long been one of the basics tenets of the sector. And one few have argued with. But, given the challenges of today’s world, should this principle still hold force?
I am not advocating a ‘free for all’ in which everything is fair game. Running an event in another hospice’s area under the guise of being the local service, would not be ethical. But there are some opportunities for hospices to undertake activities outside their own which do not negatively impact on their peers.
Indeed, sometimes restricting yourself to your catchment area is clearly impractical. For example, taking such an approach to on-line retail sales would be as ludicrous as it would be self-defeating.
Increasingly, we are seeing hospices combine an entrepreneurial but ethical approach to this question. One example is St Helena Hospice. Two of their commercial enterprises have proved successful in their ‘home patch’, so they are now looking to expand them
elsewhere. One, Total Clean, provides an office cleaning service and the other Radfield Home Care, offers domiciliary care.
CEO Mark Jarman Howe explains more. "Given the financial and demand pressures that we face we feel we have no choice but to consider opportunities to grow our income generation outside of our core charitable catchment. We have historically had success from doing this collaboratively with other hospices and charities, through our lottery, education and ICS partnerships.
We are now extending out of area activity to commercial ventures. These are designed not to compete with other hospices, but with for-profit providers in markets in which hospices have not tended to operate, using our charitable status as a source of competitive advantage."
A second example is Princess Alice Hospice. Ascertaining that there was little scope for more outlets in their area, they have developed ‘Alice’s Attic’ as a brand to use for shops in nearby high streets. As is often the case in retail, not all of these have proved profitable and there are logistical challenges involved. But some have worked really well and so they remain open to other opportunities.
Finally, on the back of a previous relationship with the people involved, Havens Hospices have been one of the core participants in the Charity Supermarket concept. This has attracted lots of publicity – and customers! - in the last year, with a presence in some of the premier retail locations around the country.
Associate Commercial Director, Tony Bennett said. ‘'Charity Supermarket (CSM) is as profitable for us as one of our more successful traditional stores. As with any new project, much of the work was front-loaded; learning on the job. Both CSM and many of the participating charities work hard to foster a collaborative and collegiate environment, which is central to the concept. We see real potential for continued participation with CSM going forward.'’
Havens are currently exploring what other opportunities there may be for income generation out of area, and are open to partnerships with other charities, including hospices.
All of the above work on the principle that they don’t claim to be the local hospice in their marketing activity. Communication about intentions is also important. Princess Alice wrote to inform their neighbouring hospices about their plans.
Another important point is checking if such activity is allowed under your mems and arts. Some hospices have geographical restrictions that could limit their ability to undertake such activities unless, of course, they change them.
My last article called on people to take heed of the title of Hospice UK’s 2023 conference and to ‘Think Differently’ in view of the challenges facing the sector.
All these initiatives are doing just that.