One reason was that fewer people took part in Race for Life events in the year to March
The annual income of Cancer Research UK, Britain's largest fundraising charity, fell for the first time last year.
The charity’s latest annual report and accounts, filed with the Charity Commission this month, show that its income fell by 6 per cent to £483m in the financial year ending March 2011, after reaching £515m last year.
The drop was "a good outcome in a challenging environment", say the accounts for the charity, which was formed by the merger of The Cancer Research Campaign and the Imperial Cancer Research Fund in 2002.
The report says fundraised income fell from £446m to £433m for two main reasons: 64,000 fewer people took part in the charity’s Race for Life events compared with 2009, and offline sponsorship decreased by 12 per cent to £58m.
Last year’s income of £515m was also boosted by a single legacy worth £10m, the largest ever received by the charity, and a £9m VAT rebate, neither of which were repeated, the report says. Excluding these lump sums, income was down only 3 per cent compared with the previous year, it says.
Michael Pragnell, the charity’s chair, wrote in the report: "The fair economic winds that benefited Cancer Research UK during the past decade have…now changed, and like many others we find ourselves in choppier economic water."
Some sources of funding have grown despite the economic climate. Income from direct giving went up by more than £5m to £100m, with lapse rates remaining stable and the average value of donations increasing, the report says.
Income from the charity’s shops remained almost unchanged at £65m.