Poppies for the fallen

January 01, 1970

Money raised through the Poppy Appeal goes directly to support the welfare work provided by The Royal British Legion (you can read stories behind the Poppy Appeal here). In 2013, the Poppy Appeal raised £39million and so an ambitious target of £40million was set for the 2014 appeal. The charity is confident of smashing 2013's total. Our research reveals how well they did…

Tower of London installation

A major contributor towards raising awareness for the appeal was the poppy memorial - Blood Swept Lands And Seas Of Red - at the Tower of London. The installation was created by artist Paul Cummins to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War.

tower of london

Although the first ceramic flower was placed in the moat in July, a quick analysis of media reporting for 'Blood Swept Lands And Seas Of Red' shows that media coverage was quite slow with only a few UK publications picking up on the Royal British Legion press release on 17 July. However, as the buzz and public interest began to increase, so too did media reporting with an upward spike in coverage during October to November.

blood swept lands and seas

The success of the event and the surrounding publicity ensured that the installation was well attended with the Evening Standard reporting that 'More than five million people have visited the Blood Swept Lands And Seas Of Red memorial since the first ceramic flower was placed in the moat in July.'[1]  As a result, each of the 888,246 ceramic poppies – representing every British and colonial death in the Great War – were all sold at £25 with potential to raise more than £22million to support the work of carefully selected service charities in the UK.

However, it didn't take long for journalists to uncover that only a third of the money raised from the sale of the ceramic poppies is expected to go to good causes. A Daily Mail article revealed that 'calculations based on provisional official estimates show that of the £25 from each poppy, £8.75 is earmarked for charity, £4.17 goes to the taxman for VAT, leaving the majority of the money - £12.08 - to cover 'costs'.''[2]

Potential total sales of £22.2million reduced to £7,772,152

Chancellor to waive £1million VAT on Tower of London poppies

Good news for the installation campaign came from HM Treasury with an announcement on Gov.UK[3] that the chancellor would waive £1million VAT on the Tower of London poppies. Using some of the LIBOR fines collected from the banks, the government will donate an amount equivalent to the expected net VAT receipts from the sale of the poppies which is anticipated to be around £1million.

VAT refund expected to be around £1million

One million more poppies sold than last year; Royal British Legion is on target to see 45 million poppies sold

A final look at a story in the Independent confirmed that the charity was on target to sell more than 45 million poppies and hopeful of making its fundraising total of £40million. Head of Remembrance for the British Legion, Stephen Clarke, said: "This year it feels like there are more poppies out in the streets and a lot of different styles of poppy, because remembrance is very personal."[4]

As the 2014 Poppy Appeal runs from October 2014 to September 2015, there are still many more months to go before the final total can be announced. However, adding together the expected sums from the sale of the ceramic poppies and the VAT waiver, the total is already heading towards £10million and that's not including the donations raised by lapel poppies.  Bearing in mind the 2013 poppy appeal raised £39million without the installation and the VAT tax relief, the £40million target is looking very achievable indeed.

Related blogs – using media reporting for research

End notes

We used Nexis® and Nexis Analyser to research media coverage of the Poppy Appeal. Nexis aggregates information from over 36,000 international news and business sources, as well as thousands of business-relevant websites, blogs and forums. Nexis Analyser not only converts research into charts for easy analysis, but also screens information for ongoing monitoring.


(1) The Evening Standard (London). November 12, 2014. Wednesday Edition 1; National Edition

(2) MailOnline. September 13, 2014. Saturday 9:29 AM GMT

(3) https://www.gov.uk/government/news/chancellor-to-waive-1-million-vat-on-tower-of-london-poppies