Workshop: Case Study - CRUK beats record with Race for Life

Robert Shepherd

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Held annually at venues around the country, Race for Life raises funds for CRUK's medical trials, while promoting general awareness of the charity's work.

The first Race for Life was held in London's Battersea Park in 1994 and involved 680 women. By the event's 10th anniversary in 2003, it had grown to 130 races nationwide involving nearly 600,000 runners.

When promoting the 2003 Race for Life, the charity focused on the event's 10th anniversary.

CRUK held special 'celebration races', each involving up to 10,000 women competitors who were all encouraged to sign up 10 sponsors, donating £10 each.

The charity hoped that events such as these would show supporters how far Race for Life had progressed, and the funds it was now capable of generating.

Objectives The charity wanted to make sure that Race for Life 2003 would attract more participants and raise more money than ever before. It also aimed to recruit 300,000 women and raise £17.5m.

How it worked The charity was keen that women of all ages and abilities took part in Race for Life. By using images of real women competing at previous events in promotional material, CRUK hoped to show that the event was open to everyone.

Another way in which the charity attracted prospective entrants was through sponsor support. Official sponsor Tesco played an important part in recruiting runners. The company persuaded 12,500 of its staff to take part, and displayed promotional material in its stores.

Tesco also provided funding for a television campaign fronted by Prunella Scales and Jane Horrocks, and a series of radio adverts.

The PR campaign for Race for Life aimed to promote the event in women's consumer titles and the women's pages of the national press. Media partnerships were secured with Now, Runner's World and Essentials.

Targeted mail-outs and email were also used. More than 1 million entry packs were sent out, with special mailings sent to those who had competed in previous years. Repeat mailshots and email were used to remind competitors of outstanding sponsorship money and entry fees.

Results Cancer Research met its target of raising £17.5m and brought together more than 300,000 women for the 10th anniversary race. The event's sponsors were pleased with the outcome of the campaign and many are supporting the event again this year.

"The 2003 Race for Life Campaign was an enormous success with all our targets reached or exceeded," said Jo Symington, director of Race for Life.

"Ten years on from the first event, more than 1 million people have taken part, raising over £50m for Cancer Research UK."

The charity is now keen to build on the success of last year's event.

Race for Life 2004 will run from 5 May to 25 July, with 150 races around the country. CRUK aims to attract 325,000 competitors and raise £20m.

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