19 Jan 2017

Interview with: Cancer Research UK

Cancer Research 

We wanted to find out more about the life-saving research that Cancer Research UK undertakes and the role fundraising plays in supporting its work to prevent cancer and develop new treatments. So we spoke to Sophie Langman, Head of Corporate Partnerships, who’s been with the charity for the last nine years.

What’s been your most successful fundraising event to date and why?

Our most successful fundraising event is one of the most loved events in the UK – Race for Life. Started in 1994, Race for Life is now one of the largest mass participation fundraising events in the world with nearly 8 million women having taken part. It has also raised over £700m for cancer research since 1994 which is a phenomenal achievement. It’s fantastic to see the huge range of women who take part for their own personal reasons. The events are wonderful to attend and the sheer sense of solidarity and determination that you see at each race is so inspiring.

What changes have you seen over the past years in the fundraising sector?

The last few years have been a tumultuous time for the fundraising sector with added scrutiny being put on charities and their fundraising practices. I’m really proud to say that Cancer Research UK has been at the forefront of putting supporters first and, this year, we were the first charity to move to an opt-in model. We will seek unambiguous and explicit permission to contact all new supporters, and will look to roll out this new opt-in fundraising model to all existing supporters by mid-2017.

Our supporters are at the heart of everything we do and the move to an ‘opt-in’ approach for fundraising communications will give them the opportunity to decide the level of future fundraising communications they want from us. We always want people’s experience of donating to us to be a positive one and this move will help us to build more engaging and involved relationships with our supporters.

Have you noticed any new trends in fundraising in recent years?

We’ve increasingly seen the growing role that digital plays in fundraising, in both engaging supporters and enabling them to donate in an easy, quick, way. From contactless collection tins to virtual reality experiences, the Third Sector has been innovating in this area at a rapid rate over the last few years and with the growth of products such as chatbots. I feel like there is a lot more exciting development to be seen in 2017 and beyond.

What are your current campaigns and fundraising targets?

We run a number of campaigns throughout the year from Football Shirt Friday to Stand up to Cancer. This year’s Stand up to Cancer, culminating in a live fundraiser on Channel 4 in October, raised nearly £16m which was our biggest fundraising total yet.

What impact has BT MyDonate had on your charity? How has it helped your fundraising?

Many people don’t realise that Cancer Research UK receives no government funding for its research. We rely on the generosity of our supporters to fund the vital work that we do and that’s why having a commission free model for MyDonate is so important as it means more funds go straight to Cancer Research.

We also rely on the vital support of the MyDonate software to support Stand up to Cancer. The BT MyDonate Telethon function is used within our Supporter Payments teams to claim credit card payments over the phone throughout the year as well as on the Stand up to Cancer telethon night.

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