Life as a fundraiser by Sharon Cottam

Life as a fundraiser – My letter to you

What job involves auctioning off a photo opportunity with celebrity DIY expert, Tommy Walsh, rebranding London’s iconic Pearly Queen with pin badges for a Jubilee celebration, a head to toe 1990s fancy dress event, having a Christmas dinner in July and loads more in-between? It’s my job! I’m a Fundraising Manager at Macmillan Cancer Support. Poundland colleagues and customers have got behind all of these events to raise money for people affected by cancer since we started working together in partnership back in 2009 and I just love it.

So this week, we are celebrating the seventh year of our charity partnership and the £1.3million that you have helped Poundland to raise so far for people affected by cancer. By donating a pound, you’re a vital part of Team Macmillan too, helping us to ensure that no one has to face cancer alone.

Inspiration in-store

Yesterday I spent a day with the team in the Bilston store near Walsall, thanking everyone who has supported Macmillan and hopefully inspiring them for their next fundraising event too – Go Mad, Go Green on Friday 28th August. I had so many customers tell me how Macmillan has supported them or their loved ones, and it makes me very proud indeed to have helped Poundland reach £1.3million to help people affected by cancer. I watched how incredibly busy the staff in store were to make sure customers had everything they needed, but somehow still manage to find the time to raise money for Macmillan. But I did have to laugh at what’s honestly one of the most frequently asked questions which is, “How much is that?” It made me smile every time.


We strip for Macmillan

So, seven years of memories to draw upon, but which are my favourites? Well the launch of the partnership back in 2009 will always be very special to me. The ‘We Strip For Macmillan’ football kit fundraiser and keepy-uppie competition that raised £23,000 was a brilliant start. Raising £180,000 in our first year, £80,000 more than we had expected, was the icing on the cake. That’s down to you, and the totals just kept on rising!

Racing across the finish line

One thing I have realised over the years is that everyone at Poundland loves a fundraising challenge, whether it’s a cake baking competition, an egg and spoon race, taking part in the London Marathon, cycling from one end of the country to the other, or even who can put up a tent the quickest! One of the best moments was as I waited at the bottom of Mount Snowdon on a Sunday afternoon and saw a big group from Poundland running down the last few steps of the mountain to make sure they met their challenge of climbing the National Three Peaks in 24 hours. That raised another £20,000 for people affected by cancer. They were exhausted but exhilarated – what an incredible achievement.

Poundland 3 Peaks - Snowdon (5)

Mac-millions of pounds

Fast forward to 2014 and we celebrated our ‘Mac-million pound’ milestone with a road show at the top ten fundraising stores who between them had raised thousands of pounds for people affected by cancer. I went on a tour of the country, giving me a chance to thank all of the staff for their support and chat to customers who shared their stories and even gave pounds to our giant 6ft collecting tin – testament to how generous you are, even when our partnership had already raised so much.

Walsall Poundland £1million celebration for Macmillan (1)

The laughs and the tears

Well I can tell you there have been plenty of those along the way – from listening to and supporting colleagues and customers going through their own emotional journey, to seeing myself appear in a photograph on ‘Celebrity Juice’. Yes really!

Thank you. 

So what I would like to finish by saying is that without your support, we would never have reached this total. This amount could fund around 24 Macmillan nurses for an entire year, which is an amazing achievement and it helps Macmillan ensure that no one faces cancer alone.

Thank you all from the bottom of my heart. You are just brilliant and it makes me realise that I have the best job in the world.

Together, we are changing lives with every pound. Thank you.

Sharon Cottam

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