Income falls by £17m at Macmillan Cancer Support

A drop in fundraising was the main cause of its income reducing to £235.7m but the charity's services reached 1.9 million people, an increase of 34 per cent

Income at Macmillan Cancer Support fell by more than £17m in 2018, according to its annual report and accounts released today.

But the annual report reveals the charity’s services were able to reach 1.9 million people in 2018, a 34 per cent increase on the number reached the year before.

The charity’s overall income for the year to 31 December 2018 was £235.7m, down from £252.7m the year before, with fundraised income falling from £247.7m to £230.8m, despite the charity’s ambition to grow it by 7 per cent over the year.

But it spent £260.8m, an increase of £4.4m on 2017, including a record £195m on its charitable activities, up £3m on the year before.

Lynda Thomas, the charity’s chief executive, told Third Sector that the greater reach of the charity’s services was the most important thing to come out of the annual report.

But she said: "Obviously we can’t do anything without income."

Thomas said she believed the fall in fundraised income was due to "a combination of factors", including a struggle around event fundraising and a dip in legacy income.

Legacy income fell from £84.5m to £80m in 2018 following two unusually large bequests totalling £13.6m in 2017.

But Thomas said one of the other factors behind the fall in fundraised income, which included a £12m drop in donations to £133m, was a change in the way people wanted to donate to charity.

In the future, she said, the charity planned to look at how it could improve the digital services it offered donors.

"We do need to make sure the customer experience and the customer journey is as good as it can be, along with what sounds like rather dull things such as optimisation," she said.

Thomas added she was confident in the charity’s future fundraising ability.

"Yes there was a dip," she said. "Was it a significant dip and are we projecting a downwards graph? No, we most certainly are not – we’re back on the treadmill."

The charity’s reserves also fell by £30.6m to £9.1m over the course of 2018 as a result of the charity’s deficit for the year, the report reveals.

And during the year, the charity moved to a policy of having a target level of liquidity rather than holding cash reserves – it now plans to retain £100m in investments and cash, which can be liquidated at short notice.

It currently has £180.9m and is planning to draw down the extra money over the next two years.

Thomas said the decision had come about as part of a "grown-up conversation about what level of reserves a charity of our size needs".

She added: "We were carrying significant reserves and a piece of work we did last year showed there was a gap in the number of people getting our services and the number of people being diagnosed who needed our services.

"The board made a decision to invest significant amounts of money to lessen that gap."

The report estimates that today there are 2.5 million people living with cancer in the UK but that number is expected to rise to 4 million in 2030. Thomas said this number was likely to increase to 5.3 million by 2040.

She said innovation would be the key to success and the charity would have to reconsider how it operated to cope with demand.

Read the full interview with Thomas here.

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