Can­cer Research UK: Slim­ming World Big Clothes Throw partnership 

Exhibited by
Bina de Wilde, Cancer Research UK
August 10, 2016
Medium of Communication
Target Audience
Fundraising/stock generation for Cancer Research UK retail activity
Type of Charity
Country of Origin
United Kingdom
Date of first appearance

SOFII’s view

SOFII loves good partnerships when members of different organisations work together to involve and inspire donors. Cancer Research UK and Slimming World’s scheme to encourage people to donate clothes that no longer fit is a perfect example of two organisations working together to create a very successful campaign.

Summary / objectives

Cancer Research UK and Slimming World have worked together on the annual fundraising campaign the Big Slimming World Clothes Throw since 2013. The aim of the fundraising partnership is for Slimming World members to celebrate their slimming success by donating their ‘before’ clothes to their local Cancer Research UK shop, therefore, generating a high volume of good quality items for Cancer Research UK’s retail chain of more than 580 shops.

The fundraising partnership with Cancer Research UK also works as a vital reminder that keeping a healthy weight could reduce the risk of developing 10 different types of cancer. 


Charitable giving has been at the core of Slimming World (SW) since 1997, when the company registered its own charitable foundation, SMILES (Slimmers Making it a Little Easier for Someone) to support the fundraising efforts of its consultants, members and employees.

SMILES operates centrally from Slimming World’s head office in Derbyshire where fundraising activities are developed, managed and rolled out to its network of 4,500 self-employed consultants. With support and guidance from the head office team, consultants organise the activities for members in their groups.

Cancer Research UK and Slimming World have partnered together on the Big Slimming World Clothes Throw since 2013. The fundraising campaign runs for two weeks every May, and members and consultants are encouraged to donate the clothes they have ‘slimmed out of’. Slimming World groups are sent Cancer Research UK donation bags, members are asked to fill them in, complete a Gift Aid form and either return them to a group or their local Cancer Research UK shop. 

Creator / originator

Cancer Research UK’s donated stock team (stock acquisition) have worked with Johanna Mather and the marketing/PR team since the partnership started in 2013. A wider Race for Life fundraising partnership has raised over £550k and this is managed by Cancer Research UK corporate partnerships team. 

Special characteristics

Right donor, right time

The partnership not only helps members of Slimming World celebrate their slimming success by donating their clothes that no longer fit, it also generates fantastic quality items for Cancer Research UK shops. Many of the donations are barely, if ever, worn and are in a range of sizes, which means there is a high chance they will sell across the Cancer Research UK retail chain. Recently we’ve also encouraged Slimming World members to recognise Cancer Research UK shops as a great place to re-stock their wardrobes when they are ‘in-between’ sizes – encouraging another way for Slimming World to support Cancer Research UK.

Nurtures great relationships at a local level

By encouraging Slimming World members and consultants to drop bags at their local Cancer Research UK shop the partnership has nurtured fantastic local relationships between the two organisations. In many cases this has resulted in Slimming World members going the extra mile to assist the shop or vice versa and there are many examples of them going on to become committed CRUK shop volunteers. Each year we are overwhelmed by the positive feeling and feedback that we get from the managers and volunteers of Cancer Research UK shops, with many of them already looking forward to next year’s campaign.

Adapting and evolving

Although we’ve only just rolled out the fourth Big Slimming World Clothes Throw, we’ve made some real changes to the partnership over the years to make sure it stays fresh and exciting and, therefore, as successful as possible. See below.

We sent out bespoke, co-branded purple donation bags during the 2016 BCT. The larger size and quality of the bags encouraged a higher average bag value and higher return rate. They also allowed us to track Gift Aid sign-up information more accurately, made it easy for shop managers to identify the bags and looked fantastic in PR shots

We listened to Slimming World members’ feedback around the challenges of dropping large volumes of donations to CRUK shops and so in 2015 we joined up with Doddle (national parcel collection and delivery service) to provide Slimming World with more than 25 alternative and convenient drop-off points for their donations 

Influence / impact

Income generated from Slimming World donations is used by CRUK across its research portfolio, helping us to bring forward the day when all cancers are cured.  

The partnership between Slimming World and Cancer Research UK is significant in the way it aligns with and supports both organisations’ strategic aims. The Big Clothes Throw activity raises vital funds while simultaneously undertaking its core work of encouraging its members to adopt a healthier lifestyle by losing weight and being more active. 


To date, this fundraising partnership has generated a phenomenal £5.8 million for Cancer Research UK. In 2016,  the Big Clothes Throw raised a record-breaking £2.1 million, with more than 80,000 bags donated, a huge 11 per cent increase on the number of bags returned in 2015; 228,155 bags have been donated over four years from Slimming World members, consultants and staff. The 2016 Big Slimming World Clothes Throw is the largest discreet stock-generation campaign that Cancer Research UK have partnered on. 

Why do you think this exhibit merits a place on SOFII?:

The Slimming World Big Clothes Throw has generated over £5.8 million (and 228k bags) for Cancer Research UK since 2013 ­ this is with minimal investment and within two-week campaign bursts. The stock generation partnership between Slimming World and Cancer Research UK has been such a huge fundraising success because it  speaks to the right donors, with the right ask, at the right time. The partnership is truly strategic.

The Slimming World Big Clothes Throw is both a celebration of members’ slimming success, as well as a fantastic, fun and easy way for groups to support their local Cancer Research UK shops. Cancer Research UK shop staff and volunteers love collaborating with their local groups on this campaign and are grateful for the fantastic quality stock it generates each year.

Cancer Research UK and Slimming World have worked closely over the years to listen to feedback from CRUK shop staff and volunteers, as well as Slimming World consultants, members and team developers to continue to learn and innovate to keep the fundraising campaign fresh and exciting.

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A Slimming World volunteer surrounded by just some of the 80,000 bags donated during 2016.
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Volunteers get creative with their bags to highlight the important cause their efforts are going to.
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Thumbs up all round for these diligent volunteers.
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The partnership between Cancer Research UK and Swimming World won a prestigious gong at the Business Charity Awards. Ruth Hunt, chief executive of Stonewall, said: ‘It’s a brilliant, mutually beneficial partnership that will have a long-term positive impact.’ Left-to-right: Leigh Greenwood (Slimming World, PR), Silvia Capatorto (formerly of CRUK), host Will Gompertz, Kirsty Simpson (CRUK) and Johanna Mather (Slimming World, Marketing)