We must appeal to new audiences, says CRUK fundraising chief

Ed Aspel, executive director of fundraising and marketing at the cancer charity, says variety is the key to attracting donors

CRUK fundraisers
CRUK fundraisers

Cancer Research UK needs to appeal to new audiences to continue to grow its fundraising, according to Ed Aspel, the charity’s executive director of fundraising and marketing.

Fundraised income at the charity has fluctuated across the last three years for which accounts are available, rising by 2.8 per cent from £528.9m in 2015/16 to £543.8m in 2016/17, but then falling to £527.1m in 2017/18, an overall drop of 1.6 per cent over the three years.

Third Sector analysis of the top-10 fundraising charities, including CRUK, found that although overall donations had grown in the past three years on average, legacy growth had masked the fact that other forms of donations were stalling.

But for CRUK the story is slightly different. Unlike many other large fundraising charities, CRUK has not seen a continuous rise in legacy giving across all three years. Bequests rose from £177.8m in 2015/17 to £186.6m in 2016/17, but fell to £181.5m the following year.

The charity’s fundraising events, such as Race for Life, have experienced a decline of 24 per cent, from £65m in 2016/17 to £49.2m the next year.

The only form of fundraised income that has risen steadily across all three years has been retail, with the charity’s shops taking £83.9m in 2017/18, which was 10 per cent more than in 2015/16.

Aspel told Third Sector that keeping supporters front and centre of everything the charity does had been vital in maintaining its fundraising income in recent years.

But he added: "We also need to appeal to new audiences, and Stand Up To Cancer, our partnership with Channel 4, is a great example of this."

And, he said, variety was key to attracting donors.

"Not everyone wants to support us in the same way, so we offer a lot of different ways to fundraise, and we listen and adapt to what supporters want," he said.

"For example, we know that some people like to take part in events such as Race for Life or Walk All Over Cancer, and these campaigns continue to fund much of our research. Others prefer to put on their own fundraising events in local communities, so we’re looking at how our shops and local fundraising groups can support these."

Despite the slight dip in legacy income revealed by the most recent accounts, Aspel said, fundraising through legacy donations remained an essential source of funds.

"In February this year we launched a major new campaign that brought supporters and scientists together to encourage people to pledge gifts in their wills that would benefit every generation to come," he said.

Full analysis of trends in legacy and non-legacy giving can be found in the latest edition of Third Sector magazine, out now.

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