Macmillan Cancer Relief is testing a hard-hitting email campaign as part of a wider strategy to reposition itself as a support and healthcare provider.
The Cancer Journey provides an interactive, experiential journey from diagnosis to treatment. It is being sent to the charity's 5,000 existing donors.
Peter Cardy, chief executive of Macmillan, said the campaign's aim was threefold: to tell the story of the entire cancer journey; to test a new direct-marketing technology; and to drum home the message that Macmillan provides a healthcare service stretching beyond its nurses.
"Macmillan is a big brand," he said. "Nurses still form a large part of our charitable spend, but not more than half.
"We've extended our activity into information and support - particularly support for carers."
The campaign was created by direct marketing agency Squeeze Digital and uses shadowy purple and black imagery and monologues to convey the turmoil that can follow a cancer diagnosis. Visitors can choose between various options, but all lead to treatment.
Clara Avery, head of direct marketing and trading, said the target profile was currently in the 65-plus market, but added that Macmillan wanted to make it as broad as possible.
The helpline number and links to other information sources are clear throughout. At the end, the viewer can make a £25 donation.
The campaign might be rolled out more widely if the current two-week campaign is successful.