Boots Ireland: Selecting the right flagship charity partner


Boots Ireland is a leading pharmacy-led health and beauty retailer and a part of the Retail Pharmacy International Division of Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. (Nasdaq: WBA), the first global pharmacy-led, health and wellbeing enterprise. With 80 stores in the Republic of Ireland, Boots Ireland’s purpose is to help customers look and feel better than they ever thought possible.  Customers are at the heart of the Boots Ireland business which is committed to providing exceptional customer and patient care, be the first choice for pharmacy and healthcare, offer innovative products ‘only at Boots’ such as No7, all delivered with the great value customers love. Established in Ireland since 1996, the Boots brand is at the heart of the communities it serves.


In 2011 Boots began the selection process for a flagship charity partner. They wanted to support a cause that matters to its customers, fits with the Boots brand and ‘care’ proposition, that can use Boots expertise and the services Boots can offer and one that would resonate with employees. Their ‘Employee Forum’, which represents the employee views of all the stores and head office, played a key role in the selection process.   In 2012, Boots Ireland welcomed the Irish Cancer Society as their charity partner. The aim of the partnership with the Irish Cancer Society is to support people living with cancer in Ireland, to increase awareness, promote prevention and raise vital funds to support the Irish Cancer Society Nursing Services.

Benefits for the company 

Boots aims to deliver exceptional customer and patient care. In addition to fundraising and awareness for the Irish Cancer Society, Boots No7 beauty consultants have trained to become Boots Irish Cancer Society No7 Advisors to provide makeover advice and support for women dealing with the effect of cancer treatment. A new Boots Irish Cancer Society Information Pharmacist role is being developed to launch in 2015 across all Boots stores. This new role will enable Boots pharmacists to provide advice on medication and cancer support services to customers and their family’s dealing with cancer.

Carmel O’Brien, Boots Ireland HR Director says “We couldn’t do any of this without all our brilliant Boots colleagues who enthusiastically give their time and energy to make a real difference to the local communities that we serve. I’m very proud of what we have achieved so far and I look forward to continuing this great work now and into the future”.

Benefits for the stakeholders

The partnership benefits the Irish Cancer Society and also people in local communities. To date, the partnership has raised nearly €600,000 funding equal to nearly 2,000 nights of night nursing care. This has only been possible through the generosity of Boots customers and colleagues supporting the many local events in stores and national fundraising campaigns.

The Irish Cancer Society Night Nurses are provided free of charge for up to 10 nights and the support from Boots helps raise awareness of the Night Nursing service through the Annual Night Walk for Night Nurses”, Mary Ferns, Night Nursing Manager.

For each of the Irish Cancer Society’s awareness campaigns, Breast Cancer Awareness in October, Lung Cancer Awareness in January and Sun Smart for skin cancer in May, Boots customers were able to get a range of cancer information and advice in store on signs and symptoms, causes, lifestyle advice, tests and treatment. In 2014 Boots ran a cancer awareness trial in three stores. The Irish Cancer Society provided cancer information and prevention stands which were staffed by Daffodil Nurses and Health promotion advisers. Over 280 customers sought advice in store. Owing to this success, the initiative was repeated in 2015.


The challenge is to keep the initiative alive through fresh ideas, fun activities (e.g. Boots Blue hair day as part of Today FM’s Shave or Dye campaign) and good communication to all stores. Boots developed fundraising guides, a regular communication pack for all colleagues and video clips to capture their stories (Take a look here). Each store has a locally appointed colleague who acts as a CR Champion. This ensures champions across all stores meet regularly to share ideas and best practice, as well as to plan local store events and activity throughout the year.


Set clear criteria for the selection of a charity partner in line with business values and goals.

Engage employees by involving them in the initial selection process and throughout the partnership.

Make the community partnership a part of the whole-company’s agenda through cross-functional consultation and ensure everyone is informed and about what is happening throughout the year.


Boots Corporate Responsibility Manager, Rachel Nolan