At Cancer Research UK we have millions of dedicated supporters. Thanks to them, we have funded pioneering research into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer that has helped save millions of lives. Back in the 1970s, just 1 in 4 people with cancer survived for 10 years or more. Thanks to research, today 2 in 4 people survive – and our ambition is to accelerate progress so that within the next 20 years, this figure will reach 3 in 4.
This will only be possible if we can continue to support thousands of scientists, doctors and nurses across the UK – and that relies wholly on the generosity of the public.
And that’s why it’s so important for us to maintain and build the trust of our supporters.
We know that, on the whole, our supporters trust us, because we get great feedback when we engage with them through social media or see them at fundraising events. But we also know that we’re not perfect, and don’t get it right all the time. Which is why we’re always looking for ways to improve, and to make sure that everyone who chooses to support Cancer Research UK has a positive experience.
So from April, we’ve decided to give supporters the chance to ‘opt-in’ to future fundraising communications from us. This means that we’re going to start asking all new supporters to give us permission to contact them before we ask for any further support. And, if they don’t, they won’t receive a fundraising request.
There is no legal requirement for us to do this, but because we understand that the public wants the charities they support to be honest and transparent, we think it is the right thing to do.
Of course, we know that some people will choose not to opt-in for fundraising messages and that’s okay. Anyone who doesn’t want to receive information about fundraising will still get to hear about the progress we’re making against the disease on all fronts, and how their money helps.
For example, just in the past year, we’ve launched the world’s biggest ever clinical trial to find out if aspirin can help stop common cancers returning after treatment. And our scientists recently discovered that some tumours contain the seeds of their own destruction – molecular ‘flags’ that could help target patients’ immune systems to seek out and destroy their cancers. We’ve also protected the next generation from the harm caused by tobacco, by successfully campaigning for plain, standardised cigarette packaging that will help to stop young people from starting smoking.
But as well as hearing about the impact of their funding, we really hope that a significant number of supporters will be open to hearing about new fundraising opportunities too. Each donation is so important, and choosing to opt-in is the best way to hear about all the new and exciting projects we’re working on. Besides, we’re committed to a ‘supporter promise’ which means we will treat your trust with the utmost care. For example, we won’t contact you by phone more than twice in a year.
And if you ever decide you no longer want to hear from us, just let us know and we will respect that.
We will probably lose income in the short term. The truth is that we don’t know exactly how much. But our view is that, by doing this, we’re protecting the future income of Cancer Research UK and safeguarding our ambition to bring forward the day all cancers are cured.
Ed Aspel, Executive Director of Fundraising & Marketing at Cancer Research UK