Departing CBI chief to join as charity searches for new corporate ambassadors.
Sir Digby Jones, the outgoing director-general of the Confederation of British Industry, will be joining Cancer Research UK as chair of the charity's new 'corporate board' when he leaves his current position at the end of this month.
The corporate board will be made up of 'corporate ambassadors': senior managers from the business sector who will help CRUK expand its network of contacts in the corporate world.
Louise Holland, director of national events and corporate partnerships at CRUK, said that an organisation of its size had real potential to develop its corporate income streams. She is aiming to increase its current corporate income from £6m to £20m a year in three years.
"It's quite ambitious, but that's why we're very excited about the corporate board," she said. "It will take us a while to get started, but we believe we have more potential by engaging the support of Sir Digby."
Holland said that Jones's involvement in last year's Flora London Marathon prompted her to approach him with the idea, although he had been donating fees from speeches to the charity for several years. Jones, whose other main charity is Unicef, has raised £100,000 so far to help fund CRUK's research.
Holland added that she wanted to take a multi-faceted approach. This would, she said, involve extending the involvement of staff working at the corporate ambassadors' companies beyond the routine CSR volunteering, sponsorship and fundraising initiatives, mainly by engaging them in health awareness campaigns.
CRUK said it was too early for it to provide greater detail on how the initiative will work or to outline a timeframe for delivery, but the charity hopes to have a board in place by March next year.
The charity has identified its own list of targets, mainly from the financial, manufacturing and retail sectors, and will compare this list with Jones's own.
Jones said: "I am thrilled to be asked to chair the charity's corporate board. Few people are unaffected by cancer in their lives and the business community will, I know, get even more deeply involved in beating it.
"As I move on from the CBI, I shall be doing many different things, but none will be more important than this."